Given I haven't posted for over a month I didn't intend to start with a rant but having been blackballed from the Raeburn Fine Wines tasting today I think the matter deserves an airing.
The problem appears to be a somewhat critical review I wrote of Hedone six months ago - the restaurant where the tasting was taking place. Having been urged to come along (and even bring a chef friend) I suddenly got a frantic email this morning asking me "not to attend today under any circumstances" as my presence "would probably result in a disagreement in public, which he [the presumably mortally wounded chef] and we would prefer to avoid."
There are several issues here:
* I would have been there to taste wine not to review the restaurant so it doesn't really matter what I thought of the food and the ambience.
* Why should the fact I've written a critical review result in a 'public disagreement'? I certainly wouldn't have mentioned it.
* In any case why should he care? I'm not a restaurant critic and there are plenty of critics and bloggers who think his restaurant is the bees knees. (And a few who agree with me.)
* Isn't this a bit of a slippery slope? If only people who write glowing reviews - of restaurants or wines - are allowed to tastings that seems to me a pretty unhealthy state of affairs. Granted if I incessantly went to Hedone and banged on about how awful it was the chef might reasonably ask me to leave. But just the one visit when I was by no means critical of all the food and said I should probably go back and eat there again? A bit extreme, surely?
OK. Let's look at it from Mikael's point of view. Some customer comes in, writes an unfavourable review and it's up there on the internet in perpetuity. He obviously cares passionately about what he does. But if it rankles that much (and I'm still at a loss to see why) why not simply get in touch and say 'you ought to take another look at what we do'.
Should I have turned up anyway? Well there's an argument for that but at the end of the day a restaurant is someone's private property. You can't insist on being admitted and Chiswick is a fair way to go on the off-chance.
The outcome is I've missed what by all accounts sounds a fascinating tasting featuring exactly the sort of wines that interest me most. I'm sure I'll write about them in the future - assuming I'm ever allowed to taste them. In the meantime I suggest both Raeburn and Hedone devote a little more attention to PR.