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When restaurateurs attack critics...

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When restaurateurs attack critics...

Paul Leschen | Dec 31, 2002 02:03 PM

I'd like some input on the subject from the chow community at large.

Recently, I reviewed a very old Greek restaurant in Portland, Oregon for an alternative weekly. I had anticipated that the restaurant would be charming, friendly, and have solid, reliable Greek food.

So, yada yada yada, I found the food lacking, i.e., not made with love or soul (or high quality ingredients), and the atmosphere wasn't so charming either, not that I care too much about that stuff.

I simply couldn't write a "charming old place, fine member of the restaurant community" review. I had to tell it like I saw it, which was that this place, like many other old-time Greek places, has grown stale. I mentioned that the hummus had an off taste, the lentil soup was thin and tasted canned, and the side of vegetables had been cooked to death in a tomato sauce that I think I recognized from the Greek diners of my youth.

Then, for the second time in one year, a Portland restaurant owner launched a vicious attack on a local reviewer; the first time it was in the form of a full page ad (this was in a rival publication); this time it was a letter to the editor of my paper.

My question: is it cool for a restaurant owner or a representative from a restaurant organization to write that a reviewer "knows nothing about a particular cuisine" (I believe that I know enough to tell whether I've just eaten -good- food or -bad- food, and I've lived--and eaten--in Astoria, Queens, the largest Greek neighborhood in the country) and that a review is written "in poor taste", and then to proceed to try to convince all of us that "there is no such thing as modern Greek cuisine; Greek food tastes the same today as it did years ago"?

I think it stinks more than a plate of supermarket hummus and a slice of microwaved spanikopita. Perhaps the goal of these two incidents is to have Portland restaurant critics thinking twice before writing an honest review.

Am I overreacting?

-Paul

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