It’s not everyday you see a retraction for a restaurant review. In general, even those over-the-top reviews in which the reviewer generates an operatic level of flowery adjectives to denounce a restaurant’s food and atmosphere are generally considered protected speech, opinion being safer from libel lawsuits than reported articles.
But if you’re a journalist, conflicts of interest will get you every time. And that’s apparently what happened to Washington Post restaurant critic Tom Sietsema. When he reviewed the DC restaurant Commissary, he did not disclose to the reader (nor probably his editor) that he had had a previous relationship with one of the owners. That probably would have been fine if he hadn’t gone medieval on the restaurant’s ass, noting of the pizza, “Domino’s tastes like haute cuisine compared with the flavorless pie I encountered, its cardboard crust slathered with what smacked of canned tomato paste.” Ouch.
The Commissary’s parent company, EatWellDC squawked at the bad review (at the bottom of the link above), and, according to the Washington City Paper’s City Desk blog, the Post issued not a correction, but an actual retraction, a hugely embarrassing mea culpa in the journalism biz.