Monday, June 18, 2007

What's A Reviewer To Do?

I find this story pretty interesting. A restaurant reviewer ripped into a new restaurant, the restaurant went out of business. The owners blamed it on the negative review and have sued for defamation.

Makes me wonder if the review had been favourable and the restaurant had gone on to great success, would the owners have also attributed its success to the review? Paid the reviewer a slice of their takings?

I'd also be interested in finding out if the review was justified. It's savage, but he did go to the restaurant twice to give it a second chance, and I find it hard to believe that a writer with such a high profile would risk his credibility by giving a great restaurant such a bad review. I know food critics can get a bit carried away sometimes, but they're not fiction writers.

Do theatre reviewers have to worry about being taken to court if they dislike a performance? If so, I could be in the poo when Drum hits the streets tomorrow. Saw a performance on Saturday that made me quite cranky.


Mel said...

It's just like you said, if Matt Evans had given the restaurant a favorable review they wouldn't have shared anything with him - they would just go on with it. However, he is just doing his job, which is, to eat and write what he thinks. He is responsible for what he has written however I don't think it's fair or legal for the restaurant owners to lump him with the responsibility of making or breaking their restaurant. He didn't write lies, it was simply his opinion on what he experienced. I am sure he'll come out victorious.

Kathryn said...

I honestly don't see how the hell they could sue someone over that review. He did say that the place was still getting on its feet. But really, it is no excuse to have such shit food for a high-scale place. It is especially important to have the good stuff dished out in the beginning stages, one would think. They sunk themselves, I reckon, and blaming someone else for their mistakes isn't right. The reviewer will definitely be the one going "nah-nah-na-na-nah!" and sticking his tongue out in the end.

Quick said...

Hmm. Kind of an update... I was curious to hear from someone who had also eaten there and as it turns out the head chef of the place I work out ate there the week before the review came out. He says it was fine, and he's a food perfectionist. Says it wasn't great but certainly didn't deserve such a savaging.

He's of the opinion that getting a restaurant up at all is hard enough and that if it's really bad there's no need for a reviewer to say anything because a poor restaurant will eventually sink itself.

I'm not sure I agree with that. I read a restaurant review (or any review) because I want to know whether I should spend the time and money going to this particular place or performance, or whether to give it a miss.

I really don't know what happened in this case, whether there was a personal gripe or whatever, but it's really called into question what the role of the reviewer is and how accountable they should be.