It’s been a tough weekend for restaurants in Australia with critics in Adelaide and Perth chewing up and spitting out two establishments in stinging critiques.
First up, The Australian’s respected national critic, John Lethlean, delivered a brutal take down of the Hill of Grace restaurant at the Adelaide Oval. For the first time, Lethlean awarded no stars out of five, saying it “occupies some kind of sad, ill-informed contemporary fine dining void” and warned that the Henschke family “should have a good hard think” about lending the name of their iconic wine to a place Lethlean says is “like the function room your sister was married in 16 years ago”.
In response, Andrew Daniels, CEO of the Stadium Management Authority, says they’re talking to the lawyers about launching defamation action over the review, in which a sauce was described as “brown, mucoid gloop”.
Meanwhile, in Perth, West End Deli has bitten back hard against a pair of former reality TV stars who reviewed them in The Sunday Times on the weekend, giving the place 9 out of 20.
Chloe James and Kelly Ramsay appeared on “My Kitchen Rules” in 2014, and became the series villains before losing in the grand final.
The review for the Times’ weekend magazine TSM, “Hipster deli should stick to brekkie”, was written by Ramsay and quotes James as saying “Shall we head to the Leedy for dinner, take 2?” after they left the restaurant.
But the owner of the restaurant has accused the pair of inventing the quote, because James did not even eat there.
In a detailed Facebook post responding to the review, the West End Deli claims Ramsay dined there in October 2015 with her fiancé and not her MKR co-reviewer, accusing her of fabrication, and saying there were “several inconsistencies” in the review.
Here’s part of their response:
The scathing review reads ‘On the walk home, Chloe sighed, “Shall we head to Leedi for dinner, take 2?”‘
Not only was this a cheap shot but it’s a fabrication. We would love to know how Chloe can fairly put her name to a review of a restaurant and food that she has not actually experienced?
West End Deli also claims Ramsay’s credit card was declined after the $260 meal and they had to chase her for several weeks for payment.
She was obviously quite embarrassed and promised to come back the next day and settle the $260 bill. That’s the last we heard of Kelly for close to 7 weeks. We rang, left voicemails and text Kelly numerous times but were ignored completely until late December. It was only when Chloe emailed in December that the bill was begrudgingly settled. We can’t help but feel that Kelly was looking for a free meal to enjoy with her fiancé when she dined with us in October.
When they became aware of the impending review, they said they raised their concerns about it with the magazine’s editor.
While the West End Deli’s post has received massive support, with more than 20,000 likes, 5000 shares and 2000 comments, neither the duo nor The Sunday Times have responded to the restaurant’s claims, but early this morning Perth Now published the controversial review online. [EDITOR’S NOTE: The review appears to have been taken down from News.com.au websites some time after 9.30am on Tuesday.]
James cancelled an FM radio appearance on Monday, saying STM had asked them not to speak to the media until a statement in response to the West End Deli’s claims was issued.
But the incident has sparked a debate over professional versus amateur critics, with veteran Perth critic and West Australian Good Food Guide editor Rob Broadfield weighing in to say “Wannabe restaurant reviewers… are a train smash waiting to happen”.
Here is West End Deli’s full response to the review:
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