There’s no such thing as bad publicity, they say, but that theory gets stretched to the limit when it comes to restaurants. Critics at the top of their game like the late, great AA Gill in the Sunday Times or The Observer’s Jay Rayner wield great power, admittedly not enough to make or break a restaurant but sufficient to have a significant impact on the bottom line, positively or negatively.
Earlier this month Jay Rayner paid a visit to one of the temples of French gastronomy – the three-Michelin-starred Le Cinq at the Hotel George V in Paris. His review is well worth a read:
Chapeau, as they say. It’s quite the achievement to deliver Jay Rayner’s worst restaurant experience in his 18 years on the job. And his memorable description of one spoon-fed creation as a ‘Barbie-sized silicon breast implant’ that tasted like ‘eating a condom that’s been left lying about in a dusty greengrocer’s’ is a classic of the genre.
But one can’t help but sympathize just a little with the poor restaurant. Comparing Le Cinq’s gloriously shot food porn with his own sneakily taken iPhone snaps is a bit of a low blow. And describing the colour scheme as ‘taupe, biscuit and fuck-you’ is another cheap shot, indicative of where the review is headed. But any meal for two that comes in north of £500 is, we suppose, there to be shot at. And Mr Rayner is a sniper extraordinaire.