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Watchdog won't swallow food critic complaint

A COMPLAINT by a restaurant that it had been unfairly and inaccurately reviewed has not been upheld because it was just too hard to swallow.

The storm on a dinner plate was the first of its kind after a restaurant complained to the Press Ombudsman that they had been unfairly reviewed by a food critic.

But Ombudsman John Horgan said he was left without much choice except to find in favour of the critic as all the evidence -- the food -- had been eaten. Mr Horgan found in favour of 'Evening Herald' columnist and food critic Leslie Williams.

He said it would have been impossible to verify the claims made by Bijou in Rathgar, Dublin, as the meals had been consumed by the critic and a companion.

The Dublin restaurant had lodged the complaint over a review published in June which it claimed was "unfair" and "inaccurate" due in part to what it claimed were "conflicting personal interests" by Mr Williams that had not been disclosed to the editor.

Mr Williams denied he had a connection with a nearby retail premises, which was upheld by the ombudsman.

Mr Horgan said there was "insufficient evidence to uphold such a serious allegation" and "the question of what, if anything, should have been disclosed to the editor of the publication did not require a determination".


In his review, Mr Williams complained of being served only three prawns in his prawn cocktail. The restaurant was adamant he had been given four. However, he did write favourably about the "crunchy and tasty" green beans, the beer-battered haddock and the rib-eye steak enjoyed by his companion.

Mr Williams consumed the food and therein lay the difficulty for the restaurant.

"The impossibility of deciding on issues of truth or accuracy in a dispute about two conflicting descriptions of, and opinions about, a meal which has already been consumed may readily be imagined," Mr Horgan noted.

The 'Evening Herald' backed up its columnist and even offered to send another critic to same restaurant to write another review but the offer was declined.

Irish Independent