For people who care about their food

Albion, Kuala Lumpur (revisited March 2011)

31 Jalan Berangan
50200 Kuala Lumpur
Open until midnight
Closed Mondays

I visited Albion in May last year and loved it. So much so, I reviewed it as being “probably the best place to eat in KL”. I was rather surprised to see some negative reviews on Trip Advisor and indeed one adverse comment on my original review of Albion here on Not Delia so I wondered if the place could really have changed so much. Time for a revisit to find out for myself.

We went back again recently and everything at Albion was superb – just as it was before.

I wonder why some others are making unpleasant comments about the place. I can think of at least three possible reasons for this:

  • they have a personal grudge against the owners
  • they are competitors and envious of Albion’s success
  • they don’t know anything about food

I have usually found Trip Advisor to be a good source of information and recommendations. That’s why it’s disappointing to see it spoiled by people using it in an attempt to sabotage a competitor or for some other personal reason. It makes the reviews less credible.

Sure, everyone is entitled to their opinions and I too write negative comments about some places. However, if the owner or manager subsequently contacts me in an attempt to ascertain the exact nature of the problem in an attempt to put things right, then I will jump at the chance to discuss the issues. As far as I’m aware, in every case of these negative views about Albion the disgruntled “customer” has refused to be identified or to specify what problems they encountered at the restaurant. This is a real shame because it can lead to the undeserved lowering of Albion’s reputation, as well as reducing the usefulness of Trip Advisor’s information.

Let’s see how Albion fared on our revisit.

Crabcakes with apple and mint aïoli and a salad garnishLast time we had slow roasted pork belly and steak and Guinness pudding. We decided to try something different so we would have a broader experience of the Albion menu. This time we made our notes by dictating into Mr ND’s mobile phone. Our intention was to make them into an article later but, just for a change, I think it might be better just to let you eavesdrop into our conversation instead.

[Transcript starts]
Mr ND: We’re at the Albion in KL again and we’ve just had – well, first of all to drink we’ve had Fuller’s London Porter, which was… sublime, absolutely lovely, full of chocolatey flavour, not too heavy.

ND: Yes, it was very astute of James to recommend this to us when I was dithering about what to drink. An excellent choice and totally appropriate.

Then we had a shared starter of crabcakes. They were absolutely superb. They arrived hot, nicely shaped, lovely taste. They came with an apple and mint aïoli which seemed like a strange thing to serve with crabcakes, but in fact the whole thing went really well together. There was a little bit of salad garnish on the top with a nice citric kind of dressing, and – really, yeah, as good crabcakes as I’ve ever had anywhere, I would give them top marks, I would definitely have that again and would recommend that to other people.

Mr ND: So would I, they were light and crisp and melt-in-the-mouth.

Seabass with colcannon mash and vanilla jusND: I had the pan-fried seabass with colcannon mash and vanilla jus. It came topped with some slivers of crispy things and we didn’t know what they were, they weren’t on the menu, but we pretty much figured out that they were very upmarket, very very thin slices of what’s otherwise known as onion rings! The mash was terrific but seemed to me I needed a bib so as not to spill it down my front but was really really good. The fish was superb – no smell, and the frying had been done perfectly to make the outside including the skin very crispy. Very fresh, very nicely cooked, absolutely perfect. I could smell the vanilla jus even before I started to eat the meal and it was curious and yet I do like trying new things – I’m just not really sure if I like vanilla jus with my fish. Mr ND said that he thought the sweetness of it kind of rounded off the meal a bit.

Mr ND: Yeah, I thought the vanilla did kind of round off the fish a bit. It was all lovely, I agree with everything that you’ve said – it wasn’t so much the sweetness of the vanilla, just a generally, overall, this adds an extra dimension to it.

ND (archly): The vanillaeyness?

Mr ND: Yes, exactly. Well said.

Spice-coated pork tenderloin with bacon cabbage and pumpkin pureéAs far as my own went, the spice-coated pork tenderloin with bacon cabbage and pumpkin purée – bloody lovely. The pork was moist, beautifully tender, cut very, very easily.

And portion sizes of both were very nicely judged, I think. There’s enough on the plate so that you’ll be satisfied if you’ve got a normal-sized appetite without having to order any side dishes like chips or mash or whatever. But if you do happen to want any of those things, you can order them off the side menu and they’ll go with what you’ve already got. You can order a single portion and you won’t be daunted by the size of what appears in front of you, particularly because they’ve got nice big plates so that they can present everything so beautifully, but there’s space on those big plates for side orders of chips or rosemary potatoes and all that stuff.

Still Mr ND (he doesn’t half talk a lot): Anyway, ND’s sticking with London Porter – except that now she’s moved on to Hoegaarden; I’ve had a London Pride and I’m completing the set by having an ESB now.
[Transcript ends]

Once again, everything was excellent. After the meal James came out for a chat with us and he was as good company as ever. The ambience, staff, presentation, quality of food, menu of food and drink, personality of the proprietor, everything really, was superb. What’s not to like about this place? I’m still happy to recommend Albion as being probably the best place to eat in KL.

Rating: 4½ out of 5 (again)

16 Responses to “Albion, Kuala Lumpur (revisited March 2011)”

  1. Sphingx

    It’s nice you bothered to write a review in defense of your favourite restaurant and your friend the restaurant owner, but honestly, blindly accusing negative reviewers of being competitor plants and/or trying to discredit the reviewers as not knowing what they are talking about because they disagree with your opinion, isn’t that a little puerile? You don’t even know who those people are. Speculating about them without proper info is a rather knee-jerk reaction, isn’t it?

    “As far as I’m aware, in every case of these negative views about Albion the disgruntled “customer” has refused to be identified or to specify what problems they encountered at the restaurant. This is a real shame because it can lead to the undeserved lowering of Albion’s reputation, as well as reducing the usefulness of Trip Advisor’s information.”

    No offense intended, but you might want to increase the sample pool size of your data (one) before you post unfounded statements like that. I can tell you now this statement is provably untrue.

    I am one of the people who left a negative review on tripadvisor, and I stand by what I said fully. In fact, after the unprofessional treatment we received from the owners of Albion, I think I was far too kind in my review, actually.

    I went to Albion fully intending to have a lovely night out with my family, and I ended up totally mortified at having made such a bad choice. Details in my TA review. I will not repeat myself here.

    The main factor in me making my choice? Tripadvisor. It convinced me that Albion was a fantastic, professional restaurant and boy did it let me down badly.

    I had no grudge against the owners when I went to that restaurant. In fact I really really wanted to like that place (I miss British food) but my actual experience with the place and the glowing reviews did not match up at all (understatement). I come from a family of foodies so I felt inclined to provide some balance because in my opinion, there is no way can Albion be the #1 restaurant in KL when there are so many other better places out there.

    There used to be this practice in writing called “checking your sources”. If you had bothered to check your sources about your earlier statement, you would have realized that the reviewers in question can be PMed through TripAdvisor for more details on their experience. Myself included. Did you even try PMing the persons in question for more details? Because I certainly did not get any questions from you checking up on the story.

    Anyway, after I posted my review, I received a rather passive aggressive “apology” from the owners (sent through the TA PM system) trying to argue some points and insinuate several others. This really annoyed me, so in response I spelled out very clearly and bluntly what was wrong with with their service that night, so there was no question of where they went wrong, and definitely none of that “disgruntled “customer” has refused to be identified or to specify what problems they encountered at the restaurant” BS.

    I’m sure Albion might be a good restaurant at times the times you visited it, but on the night I went, they really mucked up their service beyond the standards expected of any decent restaurant. I’m afraid your pleasant experiences do not change the fact that it happened, and I gave them a negative review for it.

    They really should get over it. Maybe start learning from the feedback and improving on their consistency, and spend less time on PR. Definitely less time complaining to their friendly customers about actually getting negative reviews (oh noes it’s the end of the world) and their injured pride at being knocked off from the #1 spot.

    Anyone can have a bad night. It happens and is perfectly forgivable. But the deciding factor really lies how they handled the complaints afterwards and I’m sorry to say in my case Albion really failed there and deserved the negative review they got. Good restaurants don’t try and argue with the customer after they’ve made a mistake. Good restaurants definitely do NOT send the same place of overcooked food that was sent back to the kitchen back to the table with the insistence it was correctly cooked!

    One more thing I will say. If only one person like me posts a bad review, you can probably chalk it up to me being a difficult customer and whatnot. But if other people besides me have been reviewing negatively as well, then maybe, just maybe, they might really have some problems that need addressing. And the sooner they realize this, the better.

    Honestly, in my opinion the owners actually seemed like ok people if not for their inability to take a negative review and the subsequent blow to the ego.

    Anyway, my two cents. You have my info, feel free to ask more questions if you’re still convinced these negative reviews had no basis in fact and I am in fact, some eeeeeeeeevil restaurant bogeyman. And while I do not mince my words here, I have no grudge against you, I’ll happily answer your questions.

  2. Not Delia

    Not Delia is a personal blog. I speak as I find. If I like something, I say so. Similarly if I don’t like something, I say that too. People can choose whether or not to trust my opinions. They are, after all, just that – my opinions.

    It’s stretching things a little to say that James, the owner, is my friend. Sure, I really like the guy but I have only met him twice. Both times Dave and I paid for our own meals at Albion, so I assure you that there were no incentives or inducements to persuade me to write a positive review about Albion on the Not Delia blog.

    As for your comment, “You don’t even know who those people are.” This is absolutely true – as I said myself in the article above. I have no idea who these people are because TripAdvisor hides them behind anonymity. Unfortunately, as with any website open to public comment (including this one) there’s always the possibility of rival establishments trashing each other through fake reviews. There are several reports from reliable news sources to attest that TripAdvisor has been plagued by this for many years.

    With hindsight, it would probably have been better to write a separate article with my criticism of this damaging practice, rather than lumping it in with the re-review of Albion. But the criticism is still one that’s worth making – if these fake reviews continue, how can we believe the reviews of people who have genuinely had a bad experience?

    As for asking you questions, I must admit I’m curious to know what you thought of other KL restaurants I’ve reviewed if you’ve been to them.

  3. Francis

    I live near Albion. And I think Albion had bad reviews because it lost some old staff. Now the owners are training other servers. The new staff are also ok I think. Albion reserves no. 1 for 2010. But it’s too early to decide whether it deserves no. 1 for 2011 or not. I mean anybody has the right to give any kind of reviews. it’s good to give positive comments. So I think the above person who gave bad reviews might be right. sometimes even a good soccer player has a bad day, doesn’t he? Albion might be bad at that time because they were busy. Albion can also learn from these complaints to improve more. But in my view I don’t quite like that person who gave complaints on tripadvisor with no name. Why? What is he afraid of? If he really is giving opinions constructively why can’t he even mention his name? What? He is afraid of someone who likes Albion to kill him? Or is he afraid because he might be accused? If he is right no one can accuse him. May be he was right. But why is he hiding? Why can’t he show up? Albion might be thanking him for reviews. But what if he was wrong? It affects Albion’s reputation. Doesn’t he know this? Doesn’t he know how important this is?

    There are so many things to consider:1 did he book before he came? 2 did he bring the exact number of people for the reservation or did he bring more? 3 did he know that just ordering ice water every now and then without drinking any other drinks would be inappropriate in a good restaurant? did he know that changing the food menu ( i mean pork belly with no caramelized apples but french beans instead etc.) would be long? etc . 4 did he know good table manners?

    I think dinners should be aware of table manners. esp in british restaurants. if you eat foods with your hands like wild people from the jungle you would be looked down. Using unneccessary amount of tissues is bad. This is just an example. There are some customers who think “Customers are always right.” Then will you just be smiling if your customer shit on your head? Does that customer really know what it really mean by ‘ customers are always right?’ May be that customer is right or wrong by giving such reviews. But he should give the owners some info or address to contact him. That is comments. That is reviews. I think that is what this review box is for.thank you.

  4. Sphingx

    The internet doesn’t exist in a vacuum. Even if this is a personal blog, it does not mean that posting false information is any more acceptable. The laws of libel still apply. At the very least, you’re going to be put into a position where someone calls you out on it like I did.

    I do notice you quickly removed the portion of the text containing your un-verified statements after I pointed it out. Sneaky. I should point out reputable bloggers generally do not do ‘ninja edits” and pretend what they wrote wrong never happened, but instead post corrections with apologies for their failure to get their facts right when the make mistakes.

    Good thing I quoted it for posterity otherwise my comment would have made no sense once you went back and changed it.

    Like I said before, it’s not about not making mistakes. Everyone makes mistakes. It’s about how you handle them after they have been pointed out. This also applies to blogging. When you fail to do this, your veracity is impacted, and so does the value of your opinion to people. True it’s not illegal to edit your post, but honestly, how can I, as a reader, trust you after you do something borderline unethical like this?

    Something to think about for your future blogging practices.

    Putting that aside, let’s move on to discussing Tripadvisor. I feel inclined to point out there is a “owner’s response” section on Tripadvisor, and the owners of Albion can chose to reply to the review openly if they want, and if there is no reply from the reviewer, let the readers come to their own conclusion. They can also send PMs to the reviewers (which they did).

    It is true that there is the potential, just as everything else, for people to make use of the TA system to try and engage in a bit of sabotage, but I should also point out the inverse is true as well. Unsavoury (pun not intended) restaurants can also manipulate the TA ranking system by registering false accounts and posting false positive reviews, or offer incentives (free dessert, discounts) to the customer to leave good reviews. Such practices are just as damaging. How can we believe a good reviewer’s experience amongst all the fake, gushing reviews? The anonymity works both ways, it’s a double-edged sword, really.

    BTW, just so we get this clear, I’m not saying Albion does this (although I do note they have an abnormally high rate of reviewing for a single new restaurant) and I did notice at least one review voiced their suspicion of it. Personally, I will give them the benefit of the doubt and say most of their reviews are probably genuine, although reading between the lines, I can also tell that the owner does hint or talk about his TA reviews when he chats to his customers, and whether it is his intention or not, that plants the idea of leaving a good review in their heads later. At times I wonder if this practice is tantamount to fishing for reviews, but I suppose one can say it is just his PR technique.

    As for reviewing on food blogs… Generally, I am leery of the practice of restaurants inviting food bloggers/critics to “try out their food” in return for a review, the goodwill of which affects how unbiased the reviewer will actually be. In addition, these critics and food bloggers are often given special treatment by the owners of the establishment, which means their experience will not be reflective of the real experience of the common consumer.

    Lastly, you state you are not a friend of the owner’s as you have only met him a few times. I am sure you meant it. It has to be said though, that from the point of view of a reader, you’re already referring to him by his first name, which tends to indicate you are already on friendly terms, and this will indirectly have an effect on your impartiality whether you realize it or not. Doubly so if you know the owner reads your blog. Make of that what you will.

    As for my opinion on restaurants, I have other reviews on TA as well. Maybe when I feel like it I’ll add more, but I tend to do long in-depth reviews, those take time. No offense, but if I’m going to be posting reviews of another restaurant, I won’t be doing it on the comments section of another blog. I might as well start my own food blog.

  5. Mr Not Delia

    I do notice you quickly removed the portion of the text containing your un-verified statements after I pointed it out. Sneaky. I should point out reputable bloggers generally do not do ‘ninja edits” and pretend what they wrote wrong never happened, but instead post corrections with apologies for their failure to get their facts right when the make mistakes.

    Good thing I quoted it for posterity otherwise my comment would have made no sense once you went back and changed it.

    Like I said before, it’s not about not making mistakes. Everyone makes mistakes. It’s about how you handle them after they have been pointed out. This also applies to blogging. When you fail to do this, your veracity is impacted, and so does the value of your opinion to people. True it’s not illegal to edit your post, but honestly, how can I, as a reader, trust you after you do something borderline unethical like this?

    Something to think about for your future blogging practices.

    This post has not been edited since 8 April, when it was published. A quick comparison with the cached version on Google will confirm this. Before accusing others of making libellous comments, I suggest you put your own house in order.

  6. Not Delia

    I’m all confused now. Sphingx, on the one hand you say that I have no idea who these people are (true) and then on the other you say that I have libelled them. How can I have libelled someone who is anonymous? It’s not possible.

    You wrote:

    “I do notice you quickly removed the portion of the text containing your un-verified statements after I pointed it out. Sneaky. I should point out reputable bloggers generally do not do ‘ninja edits” and pretend what they wrote wrong never happened, but instead post corrections with apologies for their failure to get their facts right when the make mistakes.”

    This is untrue and I resent your false accusations. I don’t do “ninja edits” (nice phrase, by the way). If I have done wrong – which does happen sometimes – I hold my hand up, admit to it, apologise, and move on. I guess it won’t surprise you to know that I have other websites and am fairly active on the internet in general. I have a good reputation as a straightforward and reputable person.

    You can call me out about my integrity and ethics but you’re not doing yourself any favours. People who know me will believe me before they’ll believe some anonymous person called Sphingx.

    As for referring to the owner of Albion by his first name, what do you want me to do? Call him Mr Grierson? He introduced himself as James so I call him James. What else am I supposed to call him? I have met him twice.

    Thank you for your advice about how to blog but, given that I make my entire income online, I don’t really think I need it. Not Delia is just a hobby blog. If you think you can do better with your own food blog then go for it. Good luck.

  7. Kendal Cottages

    Could it not just be that those people happened not to have a good experience, ND?

    Nobody’s perfect… mistakes do happen and all that. Perhaps these people have just been unlucky.

    I notice on Tripadvisor that 91% still recommend the place and it is ranked as #4 of 774 restaurants in Kuala Lumpur, so it is still faring very well overall.

  8. Not Delia

    Sure, restaurants have bad days and also people have different expectations. I’m not saying that a bad review of something I liked is inherently wrong.

    However, there have been cases of sabotage on review websites, where anonymous people attempt to spoil their competitors’ reputations, so it’s very hard to know what to believe sometimes especially if the source is anonymous.

    Additionally, as you can easily imagine given how I travel around, I get to meet a lot of hoteliers, chefs, and restaurant owners. Some have expressed concern, particularly over the issue of being asked for money to be included in various Top Lists. It’s not for me to say who accused whom, but it makes me very wary of some “reviews” and Top Lists.

    Not Delia, does sometimes receive freebies, but if it’s a freebie I never give it a score. I say it was a freebie. I post a positive article if I liked it and tend to “lose” it if I don’t rather than slate the company who gave me the freebie.

    It would be nice to think or hope that people would just tell the truth about what they liked or didn’t. But, hey, it’s the internet and you can never know exactly who or what you’re dealing with.

    And don’t forget that the negative comments on ND about Albion have come from the same person who has falsely accused me of editing posts, and insinuated that I’m not a reputable blogger. In other words, a person who didn’t get their facts right before making accusations.

  9. Mr Not Delia

    a person who didn’t get their facts right before making accusations

    At the very least!

    I would like Sphingx to let us know what prompted him to make the accusation in the first place. After all, if it hadn’t been for the fact that Google had cached the page when we published it, we’d have been hard pushed (without getting an independent third party in to check our server) to prove that we hadn’t done the “ninja edit” he accused us of. Was he perhaps aware of this?

  10. Sphingx

    @Not Delia,

    I’ve said before I stand by what I say. In this case you are right about the missing text. I misread that portion when I replied and thought it was missing and was consequently annoyed, because this is not the first time a blogger has done that to me. I do apologize openly for the error and consequent insinuation. I will happily admit that you do have integrity on that aspect.

    Now that we’ve settled that important point, I must also point out it does not change the rest of my argument.

    Your quote, repeated:
    “As far as I’m aware, in every case of these negative views about Albion the disgruntled “customer” has refused to be identified or to specify what problems they encountered at the restaurant. This is a real shame because it can lead to the undeserved lowering of Albion’s reputation, as well as reducing the usefulness of Trip Advisor’s information.”

    The fact remains that in this case you did not appear check your sources before making that statement that “most of the negative reviews refused to be identified or provide further clarification”. And this was the point that I was calling you out on, which you didn’t quite respond to yet.

    I would like to hear to what extent you have actually tried to verify that remark you made. How many bad reviews did you check before making that statement? I only see one sample on your blog, which is I’m sorry to say, a far cry from “every case”.

    BTW, ND, if you would like to descend into Ad Hominem arguments to refute this point (that is, use my error regarding the quote to imply my pointing out your earlier is therefore also null and void) , then I’m afraid logic does not work that way and it would be pointless trying to attempt a rational debate upon that fallacy.

    Also, there’s a difference between someone who uses a pseudonym and someone who is anonymous. Anonymous = No name or identifiable detail given. Pseudonym = A pen name, or a consistent handle used in place of a real name (such as most of the people on TA who have registered accounts under netnames or your own pseudonym of “Not Delia” and mine of “Sphingx”).

    It is perfectly possible to libel people who are using pseudonyms.

    On top of that, whether I am anonymous or not should be irrelevant, because it should be my arguments that you should be looking at. If they do not hold water, you should be able to easily refute them regardless of who I am.

    In the end, 2 + 2 = 4 no matter whether it’s a named blogger or an anonymous commenter who says it.

    Lastly, there also seems to be some confusion about the implication of the first name thing. Let me try and explain it in terms that are simpler to understand.

    You can address James by James when you talk to him in person. There is nothing wrong with that.

    However, in reviews, people do not use first names for a reason. I’m sure you will have noticed that published reviews do not normally use first names. They use last names. Examples? Movie review: Tim Burton will be referred to as “Burton”, not Tim. Book Review: JK Rowling generally will be referred to as Rowling and not JK or Joanne. Restaurant reviews will call Gordon Ramsay “Ramsay” and not Gordon. Why?

    From the point of view of the reader reading the review, if you are using the first name, it implies familiarity with the reviewer, which immediately gives the reader the feeling that the writer is at the very least, on friendly terms with the owner, if not a friend. Most reviewers are aware of this, and will use neutral terms such as “the owner” or “the director” or the last name to avoid the association.

    Does it make sense now?

    BTW, you do have my email in every comment I post, you know? At any point in this you could have just shot me a mail asking me to respond instead of multiple comments on your blog that pretty much say the same thing. It’s probably more effective. Just saying.

    Oh, If you’re wondering why it took me so long to answer, well, I don’t read your blog every day. No offense 😉

    @Francis,

    Thanks for your clarification. This shed some light on matters. That would explain some of the neglect to our table that we experienced.

    That night we went, the staff were honestly extremely green and didn’t seem to know what to do. I would say definitely way below par in terms of service.

    The rest of your comment was a bit rambling, but I gather you were trying to ask if the demands of the customers were reasonable? Yes they were. Made reservations beforehand. Exact number. Were at first quite cordial and looking for decent service, decent food. That’s about it. Unfortunately Albion stumbled on both that night through lack of attention and it all went downhill from there.

    As for why some people prefer to remain anonymous online. There is such a thing as privacy and identity theft, among other things. People are dangerously too free with their details nowadays, and honestly it is a very dangerous thing to do so. Read up on this topic, it will really make a person rethink how much information they reveal about themselves.

    If the owners want to get in touch with the reviewers on TA, they still can. That’s what PMs are for.

    @Kendall,

    In my original review I did give Albion the benefit of the doubt and actually did mention they probably had a bad day and needed to up their consistency. However, their method of handling complaints and critical response after that was less than satisfactory and the real bone of contention.

    I’m pretty sure they’ve improved their complaint handling procedure since then, though. It would be impossible for them to not have to, considering the response they got to due to a lapse of that.

  11. Not Delia

    @Sphingx

    At any point in this you could have just shot me a mail asking me to respond instead of multiple comments on your blog that pretty much say the same thing. It’s probably more effective. Just saying.

    As I said earlier, I make my income on the internet. Of course I’m aware that people commenting on this blog necessarily have to give an email address. I don’t consider that I have the right to email people as I feel like it just because their use of one of my sites forces them to give me their email address; it’s a violation of their right to privacy and is too close to spam in my book.

    if you would like to descend into Ad Hominem arguments to refute this point (that is, use my error regarding the quote to imply my pointing out your earlier is therefore also null and void)

    I have enough of an education to understand that ad hominem arguments have no bearing in disputations based on pure logic. But I question whether this has ever been such a discussion or ever could have been.

    (I have no idea why you seem to have taken it upon yourself to ‘educate’ me and teach me how to write a hobby blog. I might be offended by your strange patronising attitude, if I didn’t find it so bizarre and mildly amusing.)

    Without all parties giving full and frank disclosure of all the germane facts and of any interests they may have in the matter, it’s impossible to have pure logic untrammelled by emotions and hidden agenda. And given that the major theme of the opening of my post was to complain about the misuse of the Web by people writing with hidden agenda, that was never likely to happen, was it?

    In any case, I maintain that it was valid for Dave (Mr ND) to ask you to clarify what your motive was for making your accusation against Not Delia’s integrity, which he did directly and without any bearing on the substance of the argument. Thank you for your clarification and your apology, which I’m glad to accept.

    As regards your original accusation of libel, I’m presuming you’re referring to this particular passage in the original post:

    I can think of at least three possible reasons for this:

    * they have a personal grudge against the owners
    * they are competitors and envious of Albion’s success
    * they don’t know anything about food

    There is of course the possibility that the reviewer genuinely had a bad experience, a possibility that I admit a little further down the page (“Sure, everyone is entitled to their opinions and I too write negative comments about some places.”). And I’m willing to admit that the sentence beginning “As far as I’m aware…”, though true, implies misleadingly that I was aware of the situation in every case. I freely admit that I wasn’t. (I’d previously overlooked that it was possible to PM people on TA – though frankly if you’re posting a review for corrupt purposes anyway, positive or negative, then you’re hardly likely to be any more truthful just because someone starts PMing you, so I don’t know what useful purpose that would have served.)

    You’ve asserted that your bad review was made in good faith, that you complained setting out exactly what went wrong and that the response you received was unsatisfactory. But the existence of a good-faith bad review doesn’t do anything to prove or disprove the existence of other bad-faith reviews.

    Your comments about the reasons for privacy are perfectly valid. But privacy and anonymity aren’t synonymous, as I’m sure you’re aware. And I stand by what I said – anonymous reviews ultimately degrade the value of resources such as TripAdvisor.

  12. Mr Not Delia

    Regarding use of first names: this is a question of style/tone and medium, surely? Neither Kay (ND) nor I would take issue with your point if we were talking of the print media or even the more serious broadcast media. But the standards and conventions used by those media haven’t universally been adopted on the Web. Since this is Kay’s personal blog, she has the freedom to set whatever tone she chooses.

    So much for the substance. Without prejudice to the quality of your arguments, I think you’re doing yourself no favours with the patronising tone you’ve adopted. Both of us have postgraduate degrees (as have others who have commented on this blog, to our certain knowledge) as well as several years’ experience of making a living through our writing, and would consider ourselves as being capable of understanding a point reasonably made.

    Talking down to the rest of us is likely to serve no purpose other than to alienate – which is a pity, because some of the points you’ve made are valid but risk getting lost in your attempts to assert your superiority. If your arguments are superior, you shouldn’t need to tell us that you are.

  13. Mr Not Delia

    In my original review I did give Albion the benefit of the doubt and actually did mention they probably had a bad day and needed to up their consistency.

    Given the overall tone of your review, sphingx, I think you’re pushing the limits of credibility to say that you gave them the benefit of the doubt. As far as I can see, the title (“Mortifyingly Disappointing, doesn’t deserve the hype.”) sets the tone for the whole review. The only thing I can find that might come anywhere near backing up your “benefit of the doubt” assertion to Kendal Cottages is this:

    It is possible that they just had an off day and their normal service is much better.

    You admit the possibility that they just had an off day. In the context of the rest of the review, that’s no more than a grudging admission and certainly not an assertion that that’s all it probably was.

    You certainly did point out the need for them to up their consistency, though:

    you won’t be missing much by giving this a miss until it gets more experience under its belt

    You said before that you stood by what you say. Not on this occasion, it seems.

  14. Sphingx

    @ ND

    “(I’d previously overlooked that it was possible to PM people on TA – though frankly if you’re posting a review for corrupt purposes anyway, positive or negative, then you’re hardly likely to be any more truthful just because someone starts PMing you, so I don’t know what useful purpose that would have served.)”

    Ah, but the lack of information says more than the presence of it.

    1. If you PM the reviewer and they don’t respond, more likely to be a fake. 2. If you PM the reviewer and they are dodgy on the specifics, more likely to be a fake.
    3. If you PM the reviewer and they respond with genuine, realistic details… probably the real deal.

    For for the record, I have actually done this before to verify if a review on TA is genuine or not. I can vouch for the fact it works, and I’ve gotten a lot of interesting extra information on the restaurant that wasn’t in the review that way too. It’s worth it to do the research.

    “But the existence of a good-faith bad review doesn’t do anything to prove or disprove the existence of other bad-faith reviews.”

    And I have never said it disproves their existence completely either.

    The reason why I even brought my review up was just to disprove your “every case of these negative views about Albion the disgruntled “customer” has refused to be identified or to specify what problems they encountered at the restaurant” assertion.

    This was also what I meant by the libel part, because it was proven to be untrue in my case, (and of a few others. I bothered to check, you see). It also does raise the likelihood that some of the other negatives are genuine and now you know how to verify it.

    Fortunately, you’ve conceded that original statement was not based off any real research, so I accept your correction. That was the main point I wanted to make and I am satisfied on that point.

    “Your comments about the reasons for privacy are perfectly valid. But privacy and anonymity aren’t synonymous, as I’m sure you’re aware. And I stand by what I said – anonymous reviews ultimately degrade the value of resources such as TripAdvisor.”

    It is indisputable that the false anonymous positive reviews and negative ones do degrade TA, since they can be used to artificially inflate or deflate ratings.

    But welcome to the Internet. This is all part and parcel of a user-submitted system and the online world in general. Because people no longer need to pass the established tests and standards to write a blog or review online, we as readers also need to do some work to verify the information is true. Otherwise we would all depend on established food critics and Michelin stars like we used to do.

    That does not mean all of those user-submitted reviews are worthless however. It just means we just can’t trust ratings and need to exercise some judgement by examining the content of the review instead 😉

    Hence my point about 2+2=4 being the same no matter who says it. While you can say that you can’t make coldly logical arguments without being influenced by personal motivations or whatever, but you CAN get an impartial third party to judge them without those emotions in play. So it doesn’t matter if party A and party B have motivations, in the end if we can’t trust party A and B to be completely impartial, we have to rely on the cold logical arguments presented to us the reader (impartial party C) and make judgments accordingly.

    Anyway, if that was the original point of your post, I would have agreed with you 100%. But this was tacked on on the back of your review, making it sound like a very weak justification and as though you were trying very hard to defend Albion and excuse that all the negative reviews were anonymous ones.

    Honestly, if the review had just been a review of your experiences without trying to touch on the motivations of other reviewers, and the bit about anonymous reviewers and their impact were in a separate article, I doubt I would have cared to object and this whole sally and forth-ing would never have happened.

    But you already know this, and have stated it wasn’t your intention, so I won’t kick the dead horse and let it be.

    From my point of view, I did think that when I provided you with my real email details, you would understand that it is done with trust to assure you that I am indeed, not some anonymous sock puppet and that you would actually use it. Why else, if your blog requires it for posting at all? If I didn’t want to be contacted I would have put something like donot@spamme.com or something.

    I do understand your stand on this, however, and it’s nice that you’re no longer trying to call me an anonymous poster now.

    I’m glad we find each other’s posts “mildly amusing”. I have to confess I enjoy your ‘impassioned’ comments in this as well, they are more interesting than your usual blog posts actually. Comments make a blog more lively, and I do value a blog by their comments as much as their posts.

    Let’s see, what else? If my tone comes across as patronizing, as Mr. ND has said, I will admit this original post infuriated me and I fully intended to mirror the “I’m superior” tone that was being exuded in it. Actually it was what prompted me to reply in the first place. Normally I wouldn’t care what someone’s blog says but yours was an exception.

    When someone writes trying to say that negative reviewers “don’t know anything about food”, tell me if that’s not them acting all patronizing and superior as well.

    Also, (this is to Mr. ND) having post a graduate degree doesn’t change anything. It’s just waving around e-peens and honestly I’d prefer to avoid that kind of tasteless approach to argument where I say stuff like “what kind of stupid postgraduate doesn’t know the difference between “anonymous and pseudonym” and then the other replies with something equally juvenile like “you’re anonymous so what you say has no value!” and I reply with something even worse and then this escalates into an all-out flame war with all valid points lost in the fire storm. In that case, no one wins except for the audience who will no doubt find this bickering hilarious.

    In any case the “they started it first” argument isn’t really a good way to handle things, and neither is the “I’m a highly-educated pro who makes my $$ from a food blog and writing so I know what I’m talking about” (which is still an Ad Hominem argument. Even if you know what it is doesn’t mean you don’t fall into the trap of using it.).

    Overall, there is indeed no point in trying to talk each other down. So I’ll agree to drop the tone on the condition you guys do too.

    @ Mr. Not Delia,

    “Regarding use of first names: this is a question of style/tone and medium, surely?”

    Well, this topic was brought up in response to an earlier statement saying it was a stretch that ND considers the owner a friend.

    A review is a review, whether on a blog or in print. You can say that it’s a blog so it doesn’t adhere to print standards, but that doesn’t mean the selection of name choices don’t have the same impact. If you use first names, it’s leaving the implication that you know the person well and are likely friends, and the reader will definitely think so. And that is the point I was trying to make.

    “You admit the possibility that they just had an off day. In the context of the rest of the review, that’s no more than a grudging admission and certainly not an assertion that that’s all it probably was.”

    OK, that’s just petty nitpicking now. If it’s not the exactly the way you would write it, shame, but that’s all they’re getting given how unpleasant the entire experience was.

    If I didn’t give them the benefit of doubt, the review would have sounded something like “how can this sad excuse of a restaurant possibly get hyped this much when it sucks so much and all those good reviews must be fake and written by the management”, as some of the other reviews might have sounded like.

    Also , “Mortifyingly disappointing, doesn’t deserve the hype” does indeed accurately sum up what I felt about the place. I’m not going to lie about that. I went to Albion in a good happy mood and left in a very disappointed and unhappy one. If going to their restaurant put me in the mindset in which I wrote the review, it’s an accurate reflection, no?

    “You said before that you stood by what you say. Not on this occasion, it seems.”

    Actually, if you’d hadn’t omitted the VERY important parts of that paragraph and presented what I said out of context, you would have ironically demonstrated that I do, in fact, stand behind my words as I have always done.

    Here’s the whole thing in context:

    “There are other better and more consistent restaurants in the Bukit Bintang area, you won’t be missing much by giving this a miss until it gets more experience under its belt and smooths out the kinks.”

    It should have been obvious, especially to one such ‘highly educated’ as yourself, that the meaning of that paragraph means “their service is inconsistent compared to others in the BB area, probably because of their lack of experience, give them a miss until they have had more time to get more experience and up their consistency.”

    I’ll give you the ‘benefit of doubt’ and say you didn’t deliberately omit the very important front and back section on purpose to try and portray me in a bad light. Nope. No way you would stoop to something low like that. I’m sure. 😉

    Anyway, now that ND’s conceded the main beef I had with the review, I’m satisfied. We’re all free to recommend whatever restaurants we want, just as I am free to point things out in the comments section when they’re not exactly true, that’s all.

    Have a nice day.

  15. Mr Not Delia

    I’ll give you the ‘benefit of doubt’ and say you didn’t deliberately omit the very important front and back section on purpose to try and portray me in a bad light. Nope. No way you would stoop to something low like that. I’m sure. 😉

    I don’t agree that I did present what you said out of context. Quite the opposite, in fact; I deliberately included the words “until it gets more experience under its belt”. And I don’t see that the presence of the words “There are other better and more consistent restaurants in the Bukit Bintang area” and “and smooths out the kinks” in any way softens your criticism. The second phrase is a tautology (“gets more experience under its belt”), and given that your views on the restaurant are clear, the first is a platitude. So I don’t think I’ve done you any injustice by omitting them.

    To me, giving someone the benefit of the doubt is to adopt an interpretation of events that’s favourable to that person rather than less favourable interpretations. (I can see from your use of the term @4 that you understand – although you do rather undermine the benefit you give by preceding and following it with several unfavourable innuendoes. Another fallacy.) Advising people to give them a miss, even if temporarily, suggests that you are assuming that your bad experience wasn’t just an isolated one. So I’m simply pointing out something that isn’t exactly true, as you’ve done yourself. But you’ve chosen to trivialise the point and to defend yourself by talking about what you might have written but didn’t. Yet another fallacy, in other words.

    Anyway, I’m happy to let others judge for themselves on the basis of the full context of your review.

    On the subject of selective quoting, though:

    The reason why I even brought my review up was just to disprove your “every case of these negative views about Albion the disgruntled “customer” has refused to be identified or to specify what problems they encountered at the restaurant” assertion.

    You’ve omitted the words “As far as I’m aware”. Although you’ve quoted it in full above, large parts of your argument – including your comments about libel – appear to have been based on the truncated rendering you’ve given here. Something of a “straw man” argument, in other words – and another fallacy.

    When someone writes trying to say that negative reviewers “don’t know anything about food”, tell me if that’s not them acting all patronizing and superior as well.

    Another selective quotation. This was one of at least three possible reasons cited. And if you’re really keen not to kick dead horses, why keep doing it?

    In any case the “they started it first” argument isn’t really a good way to handle things, and neither is the “I’m a highly-educated pro who makes my $$ from a food blog and writing so I know what I’m talking about” (which is still an Ad Hominem argument. Even if you know what it is doesn’t mean you don’t fall into the trap of using it.).

    If the ad hominem argument had been used to attempt to invalidate your logic, I’d agree. But it was never used in that way by either of us. (And suggesting that it was is further selective quoting on your part.) It was used to render harmless your attempts to lend spurious authority to your own arguments and undermine the weight of ours by talking down to us, which is itself an ad hominem tactic.

    Overall, there is indeed no point in trying to talk each other down. So I’ll agree to drop the tone on the condition you guys do too.

    I’d have found this offer far more gracious if you hadn’t spoilt the effect by retaining so much of the tone – laced, this time, with liberal doses of sarcasm – in the posting you made it in.

  16. Not Delia

    What are you trying to achieve with all this, Sphingx? I’m trying to figure out the point of it all and where it’s going.

    First, you show up and suggest I’m puerile for trying to discredit people who disagree with me. Fair enough, that’s just your opinion, as my original blog posting was mine. Both points of view are based on opinion, not fact. Comments are an invitation to discuss things. I’m happy with that. I remove spam but don’t remove anything just because I don’t agree with it. Nor do I try to discredit people who hold different opinions from mine. You have had free rein to make your points here.

    Even if I had tried to discredit anyone, then how can it be libel when I don’t even know who they are? “They” are an anonymous group. Yes, I know your pseudonym and your email address, but I still have no idea of who you are. All I know is that you use an internet handle @ a popular webmail service provider. There is no clue as to who you are.

    Then you appeared to suffer from premature exasperation when you went off at half-cock and wrongly accused me of removing my allegedly libellous statements. The issue of the “missing content” is now resolved, but not the fact that you accused me of libel.

    To win damages for defamation you would need to prove how, and how much, you lost financially by this alleged hurt to your reputation. Remember that libel is a civil matter, not a crime.

    Thank you for explaining, somewhat patronisingly again, that there is a difference between anonymity and using a pseudonym. I am perfectly well aware of that. And, yes, I do use a pen name for my blog. But I’m not anonymous. People either know who I am or can figure it out pretty quickly. To save you the effort, I’m Kay McMahon, also the owner of the company British Expat Ltd, which publishes the Not Delia blog on my behalf. We are changing the balance a bit here, yes? Allegedly I have libelled an anonymous person and allegedly you have libelled the owner of a well established and respected company. Rest assured, I won’t be pressing charges – it’s all too trivial.

    As for TripAdvisor, I use it occasionally and have been a member there (not using the name Not Delia) for several years, but have only posted six reviews. I prefer to review and discuss places on my own websites. I don’t have a great enthusiasm for TA and haven’t bothered to find out about all its functions.

    The thing that really baffles me about you, Sphingx, is this insistence you have of talking down to people as though they are very small and very stupid. You explain how to write a blog, you explain how to refer to people one is writing about, you explain how to behave in a reputable manner, you explain simple Latin terms to us (perhaps you think it makes you look clever), and you even offer at one stage to “try and explain it in terms that are simpler to understand”. Then you took umbrage and got all sarky, when it was pointed out that several of the people commenting are well educated. Sorry that we’ve not been impressed by your seeming desperation to show off the superiority you appear to think you have.

    You really are a most unusual person. You probably ought to start a blog yourself if you don’t already have one. I’m sure there are lots of people who might benefit from your teaching them some of the basics. Since you like to give so much advice, please let me try to repay the favour. You’ll find that people are a lot more receptive to your views if you don’t present them in a patronising and superior manner.

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