Bad reviews can be so good

Bad reviews can be so good

There’s nothing quite so fun as a review for a bad movie or restaurant. When it’s done with the proverbial British acid wit, it’s even better.

The restaurant critic for London’s Observer reviewed the new restaurant “Suka”, an expensive Malaysian-themed establishment just opened in that city. The beginning of the review tells you that you’re in for a good ride.

It takes a special kind of incompetence to create a restaurant with dysfunctional tables. At Suka, a new hipper-than-thou joint in London’s Sanderson Hotel, which does to the noble culinary traditions of Malaysia what the Romans did to the Sabine women, they have managed it.

A classical reference in the initial put-down. Excellent. It goes in that vein.

Most of the seating is at long, wide, refectory-style tables that are so high you have to sit around them on tall bar stools. It means the waiters can only reach one diner at a time, and if you are seated against the dividing wall, as we were, waiters have to walk 15ft down one side, across the end and back up again, to get from one guest to the other. Any attempt at conversation - ‘God I hate this place. How can they live with themselves,’ etc - kept being interrupted by waiters trudging off into the distance and back again to deliver cutlery, water or the bad news that dinner wasn’t over yet.

It goes on and on from there, sparing no words to express his disdain for the overpriced “concept” restaurant.

The owner of the restaurant is Jeffrey Chodorow, a New York restaurateur, whose Japanese steakhouse in that city received a poor review from New York Times critic Frank Bruni. Chodorow didn’t take the no-stars review sitting down, taking out a full-page ad in the same newspaper, striking bad at Bruni, his review, and all restaurant reviewers.

Perhaps the Observer can expect to make another big ad sale very soon.

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