Restaurant Criticism

Michael Dowe - 2 Daggers

Australian Restaurant Critics: Michael Dowe

Michael Dowe is always alert to the most subtle of food nuances.
Photograph ©Tony Knox 1991

Right hand man to Leo Schofield on Good Living in The Sydney Morning Herald and assistant editor of The Sydney Morning Herald Good Food Guide says: "every critic wants to proselytise, you don't do it for the money - who's making a good living out of it?" Which is why he is, in real life, a major importer of coir and seagrass matting. He frequently travels to Asia; hence his speciality - Asian, particularly Chinese, restaurants. Michael's other role is to act as a counter to Leo's mercurial mood changes.

"Like all critics, I have prejudices and I have to state those prejudices - if you are served a fish you don't particularly enjoy but that is the only fish on offer than you should state your prejudice against that particular fish. I think as a critic - you have to see more in the experience than most people do because you have to talk about it."

What do you feel is the most important element in the dining experience?

"I think that no matter how fine the food is if the front of house is surly, off hand then the diner is going to have a bad time. If the food is only mediocre and the front of house is good then they are going to walk out having had a good time because every meal is not a Last Supper. So I think the front of house is probably of paramount importance."

How influential is he?

"Leo reviews the action more than I do and is more into social commentary - Leo is read more for entertainment ..."

What excites you?

"The gestalt of the evening - great evening, great service, good company and you walk out feeling on top of the world." From new or old places: "From tried and true favourites. The problem in restaurant reviewing is that you can't keep on returning to the places you naturally would return to".


June 1991

Update November 1996

Michael has returned to his coir business and retired from restaurant reviewing.

Mietta O'Donnell & Tony Knox©Mietta's 1996