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3.8 out of 5 stars68
3.8 out of 5 stars
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on 2 September 2012
I enjoy watching Giles Coren and Sue Perkins on the box, and Giles' book about eating out is both funny and informative. There are tips on how not to end up with the table by the loo or the swing doors of the kitchen, and why you should tip more than you think you should - except on those occasions when you shouldn't... The pieces concerning Japanese food culture are well worth reading before you visit Japan, if that's on your 'to do' list, and when it comes to culinary knives with which to prepare food, if you want to buy one you'd better know exactly what it's for. Never mess with a Samurai, that's all I'll say. Combined with the Coren acerbic wit (which must in part be hereditary, surely), reading this book is as pleasurable as eating a well-prepared and served meal.
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on 26 March 2013
I enjoyed the book. Maybe not all, some of it was a rant of Giles' rather strange, personal hang-ups.

The beginning was interesting with its insight into the way he and sister, Victoria, were brought up with a charismatic and irascible father, Giles Coren. There are lots of humorous allusions, some wonderful descriptions of meals and various food he enjoys and dislikes. Lots of suggestions about what you should do when visiting restaurants and how to ensure you are remembered and given the best of everything available in the kitchen. As he said, when advising you to make a friend of a restaurant, 'Friends don't give you the old whiffy bit of fish from the fridge. They don't leave you waiting for an hour for your dinner. They don't overcharge you...'

I enjoyed reading the book because I am a foodie and I have always been a fan of the Corens. Most of the book was interesting, some of it was amusing and I have picked up some tips. If you eat out and get pleasure from menus, buy it.

Twitter link @GensPlace
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on 3 July 2013
Giles Coren's life has been more privileged than most. Son of a famous father and sent to posh schools and Oxford, he ends up as restaurant critic of the Times, paying more for a meal than some families' monthly food bills. Yet even if you live on benefits in a bedsit and your idea of posh nosh is pie and chips with cheap cider, that's not going to stop you liking this book. Perhaps, like some of the food he eats, it will be an acquired taste, particularly as he tends to rant and his views can be quite right-wing. Here's a sample: "I hate people who witter on about how different Indian food is from what we think it is.....I hate them, the bargain-hunting, just-back-from-Goa b*@%ds with their sandals and henna tattoos.....I don't have any colonial guilt. I am a Hungaro-Pole....so I am not going to turn vegetarian and pretend I like Bollywood movies just because you lot wanted a continent to shoot tigers in."
It's not all like that and to be fair, this is a preface to a visit to Southall at the invitation of a Sikh couple, where he does find there is some enjoyable Indian food to be had. And the opening chapter is a fond-memories-of-childhood one which is gentle, touching and while humorous, also sad because his father basically smoked himself to death.
What is refreshing about Coren's no-holds-barred prose is that it cuts through the pretentiousness of eating out, so that you can ask for what you want in a restaurant, be it some Michelin-starred affair or the local Italian, without being either overawed or boorish. He once was a waiter himself so he gives useful advice from that side of the counter.
He can also debunk some of the health fascists; his chapter on salt was great fun to read. But this isn't just a book which does what it says on the cover; even if you never eat out, it is still a hilarious read.
One reviewer complained that this book reproduces many of his Times articles. I don't buy that paper often enough to comment (although I did recognise the salt article) but I'd say they are well worth reading twice anyway, so unless you've kept a Giles Coren scrapbook, I'd recommend this.
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on 30 June 2012
Love this book. I'm not a reader of Giles' column but saw this book plugged ferociously on Twitter. It's one of the few books that make me laugh out loud. I considered him to be the Charlie Brooker of food critiques. Buy it for a laugh!
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on 16 September 2014
I loved the beginning of Corens book , the memoirs of growing up in Cricklewood , Chinese with his family , his first visit to pizza express , his bachelor days in the dome in hampstead , terrible meals while abroad . God I love this book , I raved about it all weekend . But then I read the final chapters , no , the editor was obvisious too good a pal . Suddenly the wit had gone only to be replaced by a smug complacency ; I work on tv , I have lots of silly chums who are famous , I will write absolute rubbish just to fill up the pages in this book . Am afraid that this just spoil my impressions of this book . By the way its not really a book about how or why or where to dine and I do remember that information being the stuff they printed in magazines to advertise this book .
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on 1 June 2012
I don't read Giles Coren's reviews in The Times as they are behind a paywall. Pity because he is a really great writer. But it also means that I don't mind if he has copy and pasted chunks from them into this book. The added family memoir sections are also immensely touching (but then again I'm a sucker for well written sentimentality and nostalgia) - but it's a book ultimately to read for his views and rants on our cuisine. He does three things very, very well: makes you laugh, makes you hungry and makes you want to go out and eat (especially for Chinese). And for that I think he is the God of Food.
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on 23 May 2012
The only concerning thing is that he appears to be mellowing in his old age, or at least trying to.

A compendium of typically easy to read, wittily written pieces about Coren's opinions on pretty much every major global cuisine. Plenty of crude views interspersed with almost uncharacteristic sentimentality about his family and particularly his father.

Very good read, enjoyable and not short of interesting opinions on the UK restaurant scene over the last 40 years.
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VINE VOICEon 13 November 2012
As a fan of Giles, from his writing for the Times to his TV work, I knew I would enjoy this book. And I did, the writing is witty and insightful and full of beautifully crafted sentences that make you laugh out loud, or nod furiously in agreement. His decription of seeing a glimpse of Mount Fuji is poetically wonderful, his rant about the snivelling legal bean counters at the newspaper is hilarious and his description of his last Chinese meal with his dad makes your heart ache a little for him.

So, just as expected,an entertaining book from a skilled writer. However, I also learned, surprisingly, how to eat out! How to get a better table, why bread is a bad idea, why I should drink tap water, how to talk to a waiter about wine..loads of good stuff.

Buy the book. You can learn, and you can laugh.
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on 9 May 2013
His table manners are appalling but he's a good writer (ok, he's not as funny as his dad, but who is) His heart's in the right place (the chapter on how posh restuarants can treat "ordinary" people is brilliant) and his philosophy of food and life in general is spot on. You get the feeling that restaurant criticism is something to hang his hat on rather than a calling but he's less arsey than Jay Rayner and better for it. I enjoyed the book and promptly gave it to someone else. Like a brilliantly made fish-finger sandwich, it's great but it's only a fish-finer sandwich.
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on 22 May 2012
Really good. Excellent writing. Witty, snappy, amusing, like his weekly reviews but with much more meat. Coren has a wonderful style and this comes thoroughly recommended.
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