Bust Up At The Berkeley

What a hoo-ha. In the blue corner, food bloggers The Critical Couple, taking the blows over their review of their disappointing experience at Marcus Wareing at The Berkeley; in the red corner, ladle swinging, Marcus himself who took such umbrage at the blog post he rang them personally to rant about it and – according to Mrs CC – made some rather personal comments, unbecoming to a supposedly professional chef.

Let the record show that The Critical Couple had previously been to his restaurant no less than six times , twice blogging their experience incredibly enthusiastically. This latest visit – a celebration birthday dinner, a fact completely ignored by the staff and their CRM system – cost them £600, no small amount. Their main gripes were the service – a new maitre d’ and poor customer relations – and the fact that neither Wareing nor his head chef were in the kitchen, a fact they feel showed in some under-par dishes in their (obligatory on a Saturday night) Tasting Menu.

What’s interesting is Wareing’s attitude towards dissemination of information. He clearly felt that his paying guests did not have the right to publish a critical blog post, although it was also clearly fine for them to previously publish two rave reviews. The whole nasty saga seems to revolve around this: would he have felt the same if they had told their – let’s suppose – extremely large circle of friends and acquaintances of their bad experience verbally, rather than writing it down? Does he in fact consider it libellous – despite this being their subjective viewpoint of their experience?

Once you’ve written down a review of your experience, you are apparently deemed fair game for the chef to hunt you down and harangue you until you capitulate or not, never mind that you are a regular who has spent perhaps thousands of pounds at your establishment and perhaps has earned the right to review the experience for better or worse – and that’s the question.

What exactly does earn a customer the right to critically review and post said review through whichever chosen medium? Is it the simple matter of handing over cash? Or being a regular? Does Wareing have a case and if you dish it out, you should be prepared to have said dish thrown right back at you?

  • Peter

    as usual an interesting article

  • The Fine Diner

    At the end of the day running a restaurant is just like any business – customers pay you money for a product or service. If they provide you feedback, good or bad, they are letting you know their opinions, which surely has to be taken maturely whatever it is. Yes we all like praise, but we have to be able to take the criticism too, after all this is a chance to put something right. And what if people didn’t say anything at all, how would we know what we were serving was any good or not? I think every customer should be allowed to voice their opinions wherever they wish, whether that’s down the pub, to friends or family, or even on the internet. I guess Mr Wareing was just having a bad day, and I’m sure he regretted it afterwards. That said, you’d think he’d be more humble about the whole situation when you consider how much the couple spent in his restaurant!

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