The best restauraunt in London
December 6, 2017 8:19 AM   Subscribe

Eggs a la Peds? no problem! How to get to #1 on Tripadvisor while actually not serving actual food.
posted by pjern (99 comments total) 41 users marked this as a favorite
 
This is the best thread I've seen today. Would definitely post again. ★★★★★
posted by leotrotsky at 8:33 AM on December 6 [6 favorites]


This is effing incredible.
posted by Stonestock Relentless at 8:39 AM on December 6


I’ve wasted my life.
posted by aramaic at 8:42 AM on December 6 [8 favorites]


And in LA, Nathan Fielder puts his fist through a wall.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 8:44 AM on December 6 [18 favorites]


Is this the new Brexit thread? I thought this were some kind of metaphor.
posted by runcifex at 8:44 AM on December 6 [5 favorites]


Has anyone confirmed this actually happened?
posted by gwint at 8:46 AM on December 6 [18 favorites]


I have a lot of thoughts about review sites, shaped principally by growing up in a family restaurant headed up by my dad who hated yelp with a passion (from the original old days when they were a tiny startup).

While I know that fake reviews definitely exist (and in the case of the article fake restaurants also) the thing that bothers me the most about the entire enterprise of crowd-sourcing reviews is the genuine(ly) bad taste displayed by real reviewers. Sure, huge numbers of reviews tend to smooth the effects of individual tastes somewhat, but reading tripadvisor and yelp reviews is just too much a window into the vacuous clichéd "tastes" of a typical person.

Of all the surprising parts of the article, Im frankly surprised that they got to #1 without paying TA some sort of fee/commission or advertising contract.
posted by Exceptional_Hubris at 8:46 AM on December 6 [6 favorites]


This sponge covered in paint, with quenelles of shaving foam.

I knew this is where molecular gastronomy would eventually take us.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 8:49 AM on December 6 [17 favorites]


It's an egg resting on my foot.

I love this so, so much. Everything about it. Even though it comes really close to tickling all the cringe-y parts of my brain that make it impossible to watch squirm-comedy.
posted by uncleozzy at 8:49 AM on December 6 [17 favorites]


Has anyone confirmed this actually happened?

That would be deception inception!
posted by AFABulous at 8:50 AM on December 6 [7 favorites]


...Then people who want to work at The Shed get in touch, in significant numbers. Then I get an email from the council, which wants to relocate us to a site in Bromley they’re developing...

Take the site and the staff, and it could have become real...
posted by Segundus at 8:51 AM on December 6 [3 favorites]


I was with him up until the point where he accepted actual customers. It doesn't matter that he didn't charge them -- if I'm traveling to London from California, yes I'm going to be furious when someone pulls a stunt like that on me. At the very least, it means I've wasted a couple hours and the opportunity to dine at an genuinely high quality restaurant in London.

So I found that part needlessly cruel. He's already made his point; why inflict this on completely innocent third parties?
posted by mikeand1 at 8:52 AM on December 6 [18 favorites]


Hmm. Though I want to believe, this tickled my "too good to be true" suspicions. But, google cache shows a real Trip Advisor site from Dec 4, showing the restaurant ranked "#263 of 18,188 Restaurants in London." (I haven't found an independent cache from the fortnight after Nov 1 when they claim to have been ranked #1, but haven't found refutation of it either.) Seems like it's probably a real thing. Neat!

I leave the Shed's phone at a friend's house over a long weekend, and when I get it back it has 116 missed calls.

What? A friend's house? Why would you do that? Why would you tell us about it? I am confused.

Also, Trip Advisor is almost always the flaming garbage can among travel information search results. So, cheers!
posted by eotvos at 8:52 AM on December 6 [2 favorites]


Yeah, imagine spending your carefully planned loved one's birthday eating mac and cheese in someone's backyard when you'd expected a gastronomic experience. I would be livid. I'd probably hit someone.
posted by AFABulous at 8:54 AM on December 6 [5 favorites]


I'm a bit surprised he never got a call from a health inspector.
posted by adamrice at 8:54 AM on December 6


◉◉◉◉◉ A Great Lunchtime Read

My wife and I don't usually read VICE articles, but we heard some good things about "I Made My Shed the Top Rated Restaurant On TripAdvisor" through the website MetaFilter and decided to check it out. We were pleasantly surprised!

The article opens with some background about fake reviews and quickly dives into the main course: the story of how the author created a popular fake restaurant on TripAdvisor. The writing was light, but substantial. I won't spoil the ending for readers, but I will say that we left satisfied... and hungry for more!
posted by saturday_morning at 8:57 AM on December 6 [45 favorites]


There was a great article about a crazy famous hyper-local restaurant in ... rural New York maybe? The claim was all food came from forest around restaurant.

They couldn't find any evidence that they'd actually taken a real reservation.

Here it is! Restaurant is called Damon Baehrel
posted by leotrotsky at 8:57 AM on December 6 [15 favorites]


Yeah, I should amend my "everything about it." The second half isn't great. I mean, I do think the story of having been part of this stupid prank is something of value, but no, I would not be happy about it. At all.

But then there are people who wanted to return, allegedly, so they feel as though they've gotten some kind of value from the evening.
posted by uncleozzy at 8:59 AM on December 6 [1 favorite]


I’ve wasted my life.

Sad you haven't scammed your way to the top of the online restaurant review community? There's probably still time to bullshit your way into Paris Fashion Week (another article by Oobah Butler, who that time picked up knock-off Georgio Peviani jeans and became Georgio Peviani, the face to a faceless (even website-less!) company/person).
posted by filthy light thief at 9:02 AM on December 6 [3 favorites]


There was a great article about a crazy famous hyper-local restaurant in ... rural New York maybe? The claim was all food came from forest around restaurant.

Previously on metafilter.

posted by Exceptional_Hubris at 9:03 AM on December 6 [3 favorites]


> Has anyone confirmed this actually happened?

Wayback Machine shows it as #1 on the 5th November and has it at #3 on the 3rd and 4th.
posted by giraffeneckbattle at 9:03 AM on December 6 [5 favorites]


Yeah, imagine spending your carefully planned loved one's birthday eating mac and cheese in someone's backyard when you'd expected a gastronomic experience. I would be livid. I'd probably hit someone.

I dunno, if you were expecting a nice meal, maybe. But at the point where what you're expecting is a "gastronomic experience" then let's not pretend the quality of the food or the setting have anything to do with it.
posted by kafziel at 9:05 AM on December 6 [4 favorites]


The reviews on Trip Advisor are pretty vital when looking for a hotel a long way from home. We are planning a trip to Laos in March and here are the criteria we use. First, eliminate any sites clearly posting fake or friendly reviews. Poor grammar and effusive praise are red flags. Second, consider the nature of customers complaints. Snowflakes complaining about the quality of the coffee at breakfast or a stray hair found under the sink can be safely discounted. Third, it's good if management responds to complaints, generally the more savagely the better. Last, quiet, clean and safe are basically the only things you are looking for, you are just trying to ensure the property isn't next door to a 24-hour slaughterhouse. If most reviewers say the property is quiet clean and safe, you are good to go if the pictures turn your crank.
posted by Keith Talent at 9:08 AM on December 6 [3 favorites]


a stray hair found under the sink

I forget where we were going, but one hotel review I read had a complaint about, and photograph of, a pile of toenails found on the bathroom counter. Pile. Toenails.
posted by uncleozzy at 9:14 AM on December 6 [3 favorites]


Yeah, imagine spending your carefully planned loved one's birthday eating mac and cheese in someone's backyard when you'd expected a gastronomic experience. I would be livid. I'd probably hit someone.

pretty sure we'd both chuckle at this completely ridiculous experience enabled by our own blind faith in crowdsourcing. see, it's good to chuckle at absurd things - like how I chuckled at y'all equating cruelty to a place not appropriately matching your expectations of bougieness

I wiggle my monocle at you good Costco-shopping sirs
posted by runt at 9:21 AM on December 6 [18 favorites]


And in Toronto, Robert Maxwell puts his fist through a wall.
posted by ejs at 9:25 AM on December 6 [2 favorites]


Was thinking as I read the top of the piece that this is British food we're talking about, and so not actually ever serving anything would probably indeed be the best way to get to the top of the charts. There would be nowhere to go from there but down. I was thinking it was kind of brilliant.

The part where they actually served meals quite vindicated that idea, I think.
posted by Naberius at 9:26 AM on December 6 [2 favorites]


I've gotten scammed by fake TripAdvisor reviews at least once. For a mediocre Italian restaurant in Paris. Reviews looked great, it was nearby on a rainy night. "Best Italian meal we had on our whole trip to Europe!" kind of stuff. And we went to be greeted by the owner's small children running around the restaurant, undercooked not-fresh-pasta, and canned sauce. In and out in 45 minutes and charged about 2x what it was worth.

There hadn't been a review of the place in several weeks. So I wrote a negative review which got listed. Within two days there were 5 positive reviews offsetting mine. I looked back and the pattern was the same; after any negative review was a bunch of positive ones that read like shills. I finally realized this restaurant may not be good at Italian cooking, but it sure was good at gaming TripAdvisor.

Their page still shows 4.5 stars.
posted by Nelson at 9:27 AM on December 6 [14 favorites]


I mean... did anyone "have a stunt pulled on them" really? The experience was pretty much as described. The Shed claimed to have no set menu; it claimed to serve 'moods,' and the listed sample menus were intended to reflect type of experience a diner might have, but not to indicate what, precisely, would be served on a given night. The reviews were fake... but at a lot of restaurants, a lot of the reviews are fake.
posted by halation at 9:28 AM on December 6 [7 favorites]


did people not realize that crowdsourced reviews are a complete joke written by people who are absurd representations of class and privilege?

like, there's a Korean BBQ place in a really expensive, heavily-gentrified part of Atlanta that has 4+ stars, hundreds of reviews, and is listed at two dollar signs. it's the closest Korean place to me so I took my partner and her sister there

we ended up being charged $120 for two plates of bulgogi, salads, kimchi pancakes, and banchan. the plates had about 12 slices of meat, each. meanwhile, Korean restaurants on the working class / Asian-American corridor of Atlanta (BuHi) charge a quarter that much for more food that tastes, at worst, the same, and get marked down to 3 stars because it doesn't have upcycled wood panels and those fashionable ceilings that show you all the guts of the building and make it really hard to hear anything

for anybody who isn't a middle-class white person, Yelp/TripAdvisor/etc, are like Whose Line except the points matter and the jokes are testaments to mediocrity and superficiality. it might as well be the demographic of reddit users reviewing 'literature'
posted by runt at 9:37 AM on December 6 [12 favorites]


I mean... did anyone "have a stunt pulled on them" really?

How about the fact that it wasn’t actually a restaurant?
posted by ejs at 9:38 AM on December 6 [5 favorites]


I don't understand how people can find it hilarious and defensible to screw with innocent strangers like this, who for all the writer knows may have been saving up for ages to be able to afford travel abroad.

Seeing that it's the same asshole who pulled other asshole pranks under the name of journalism before, can we at least get a tag for him or something so that I will know what's at the link and not give him ~clicks~ or whatever?
posted by inconstant at 9:45 AM on December 6 [9 favorites]


it wasn’t actually a restaurant

it called itself an 'appointment-only restaurant' on its website, and it served people a meal when they arrived for their bookings. it provided the service it purported to provide.

to screw with innocent strangers like this, who for all the writer knows may have been saving up for ages to be able to afford travel abroad

i don't know whether guests were vetted or not, but only one table appears to have traveled, and they were planning to be in town anyway. nobody's life got ruined. and it's not like The Crushing Of Innocent Travelers' Foodie Hopes And Instagram Dreams doesn't happen at 'real' restaurants too.
posted by halation at 9:59 AM on December 6 [7 favorites]


Lovely, detailed report. Only thing missing is the opportunity to witness the hundreds of people bragging to their officemates that they'd already been to The Shed At Dulwich weeks before and it was impressive, their way with food, but ultimately it wasn't all that.
posted by ardgedee at 10:00 AM on December 6 [6 favorites]


They didn't charge anyone for a meal. He invited people come over to his house and served them dinner for free. Any idea that he somehow ripped someone off is misguided as far as I can tell.

I thought the whole story was going to be fake.

The people who went didn't seem upset and have a great story to tell.
posted by bongo_x at 10:01 AM on December 6 [1 favorite]


I think the main problem, as others have pointed out, would be people who base entire trips around eating, and made a plan to attend a #1 restaurant (including forgoing other plans, and booking travel arrangements) and then ate frozen food in a guy's yard. I'd imagine some people are OK with that experience, but for others it's a huge waste of time, money, and energy for a prank on a website.
posted by codacorolla at 10:08 AM on December 6 [5 favorites]


As a retail shop owner who gets actual reviews for my business, I kind of hate the whole process. It's really nice when people are inspired to give us good ratings! But then there are the horror stories people write about how nasty we are, typically written by someone who I had to ask not to photograph a published knitting pattern (against copyright law and incredibly rude to me and to the designer) or they didn't get the special discount they wanted. Sometimes they just hit us on a bad day, and I'm willing to own that. But the people most motivated to give reviews tend to be the unhappy ones.

I won't write fake reviews, and I also can't support Yelp in any way. They called soliciting me to advertise on the Yelp pages of other local yarn shops in the area. I think that's kind of rotten. We're all competing with each other in a way, but we try to be neighborly with each other.

When the internet first appeared, I thought it was pretty cool that regular people could publish anything they wanted, that the old gatekeepers of opinion no longer held sway. But of course it turns out that having NO gatekeepers (or having new ones with no standards) is just as bad as having the old prejudiced problematic gatekeepers.

Any prank that encourages people to read reviews with a large grain of salt is working for the cause of good, in my opinion.
posted by rikschell at 10:08 AM on December 6 [7 favorites]


The people who went didn't seem upset
I'll grant he tries his damndest to minimize it, but reread the article.
posted by inconstant at 10:13 AM on December 6 [1 favorite]


people who base entire trips around eating

there is only one type of person who would shell out that much capital just to go to an exclusive restaurant and really, these kinds of people could do worse redistributing their wealth into the accounts of all the folks who provided them the services to get them to this dude's backyard
posted by runt at 10:13 AM on December 6 [6 favorites]


Also, "it didn't literally ruin their ENTIRE TRIP nobody is even HURT" is a shitty way to excuse assholery. If I walk up to you and spit on your shoes, it's an asshole move regardless of whether your shoes are fancy patent leather or beat-up sneakers.
posted by inconstant at 10:15 AM on December 6 [1 favorite]


there is only one type of person who would shell out that much capital just to go to an exclusive restaurant

Yeah, me! I always chuckle at these Metafilter Brigade discussions that go to "people who are rich enough to do X deserve to get screwed". I mean I get it, I want to stick it to The Man too. But sometimes I am The Man. (Also lighten up a bit, I hope you also get to enjoy a fine meal occasionally.)

But rest assured dear reader that anyone who is serious enough about restaurants to make a trip just to dine isn't going to be chasing Tripadvisor reviews. If you're serious about fine dining there are much more reliable places to find top quality restaurants.
posted by Nelson at 10:20 AM on December 6 [11 favorites]


I think it's safe to speculate that most people who plan a trip around a meal put a hell of a lot more effort into it than a quick skim of TripAdvisor. And that the ones who don't have probably been burned by restaurant operators far more cynical than this.
posted by ardgedee at 10:26 AM on December 6 [1 favorite]


I want to open an exclusive cat cafe in my apartment.
posted by AFABulous at 10:26 AM on December 6 [14 favorites]


If I walk up to you and spit on your shoes, it's an asshole move regardless of whether your shoes are fancy patent leather or beat-up sneakers.

This seems more akin to spitting on someone's shoes after they ask you to give their shoes the rare, exclusive restorative polishing treatment enhanced with ultralocal and sustainable biological extracts that you've been advertising. (And then buffing the spit off after, and not charging anything.)

anyone who is serious enough about restaurants to make a trip just to dine isn't going to be chasing Tripadvisor reviews

Definitely. Although it does seem that the people who turned up may have done this. One of the tables was apparently upset to learn that the restaurant was not the "top veggie restaurant in London," which was... confusing. Maybe some other site aggregates and reposts Trip Advisor rankings? But even then, they must not have looked at the restaurant's website. Because the menu posted on the restaurant's website definitely was not vegetarian.
posted by halation at 10:32 AM on December 6 [4 favorites]


If this article turns out to be fake, I think it might disappear into a black hole of meta.
posted by holborne at 10:38 AM on December 6


I don't understand how people can find it hilarious and defensible to screw with innocent strangers like this, who for all the writer knows may have been saving up for ages to be able to afford travel abroad.

The meal was free. They will have a story to tell about their trip for the rest of their lives (especially if they find this article). At most, they lost a few hours in a very random and memorable way, which for me, is what travel should be about.

I guess, I personally would be delighted if it happened to me, though it is unlikely to, because I would have assumed I couldn't afford to eat at an exclusive restaurant.

Nothing stopped any of those folks from finding a real restaurant and eating there with the money they didn't spend at this place.
posted by emjaybee at 10:39 AM on December 6 [5 favorites]


I think it would have been great if he had at least tried to make good food for the one night he “opened.” Like, that would be a cool end to the story (especially if he succeeded). But instead he just said fuck it and bought some frozen crap.
posted by Weeping_angel at 10:43 AM on December 6 [3 favorites]


Yeah this made me think of Damon Baehrel as well. Also, I don't know who Shaun Williamson is but it made me think of this.
posted by Navelgazer at 10:51 AM on December 6 [1 favorite]


These hoity-toity places are ridiculous. I remember when we'd get two sponges smothered with paint and a whole bowl of shaving cream for a dollar.
posted by Splunge at 10:51 AM on December 6 [15 favorites]


I'm not a fan of pranks. I am not a fan of being pranked. Chalk it up to being an only child and/or truly terrible snowflakey person. Whatever. I would not, like, say it ruined my entire vacation or anything but I'd not be all ho-ho-ho you sure got me! (I mean, I also wouldn't eat at a restaurant that claimed to serve moods, but humanity is a great big rainbow) This would have been just an effective dig at Yelp/Trip Advisor without actually accepting reservations.

(I use Trip Advisor just to describe the basic layout and amenities of properties. Hotels can sometimes be pretty coy about the exact nature of, say, their fitness center. In cities with a kajillion comparable hotels, I want to know if one has a particularly tricked out pool area or a fitness center with severely limited hours.)
posted by soren_lorensen at 11:09 AM on December 6 [7 favorites]


Oh man, if this happened to me it would be the centerpiece story when asked about my trip to London. (The thing that makes it fun and not malicious is they didn't charge the people who weren't in on the joke.)
posted by lovecrafty at 11:18 AM on December 6 [4 favorites]


Shaun Williamson is generally known as "Barry from Eastenders" (classic death scene here) , and now does a decent line in sending himself up.

One of my favourite TripAdvisor pages is for Monkey Forest, where you can see a variety of different complaints about it being a forest full of monkeys.
posted by threetwentytwo at 11:31 AM on December 6 [1 favorite]


I think the main problem, as others have pointed out, would be people who base entire trips around eating, and made a plan to attend a #1 restaurant (including forgoing other plans, and booking travel arrangements) and then ate frozen food in a guy's yard. I'd imagine some people are OK with that experience, but for others it's a huge waste of time, money, and energy for a prank on a website.

On the other hand, planning an entire trip around eating, with plans specifically to attend a #1 restaurant specifically and only because it's the #1 restaurant, is about as bougie as shit gets, so ... fucking whatever?

Not every desired experience deserves validation.
posted by kafziel at 11:44 AM on December 6 [9 favorites]


Yes, everyone had a meal for free, from an place that would have gotten an F from the Restaurant Health Inspector, had one ever been called to inspect it. Thanks?
posted by ejs at 11:56 AM on December 6 [3 favorites]


I worked at Chowhound in 2008 when someone faked a couple of Italian restaurants reviews in order to get a Wine Spectator Award of Excellence. It was meant to call out the laxity of the wine award program, but it made us look bad, too, because we'd allowed these fake reviews of a fake restaurant.

But, well, you know what? Restaurants come and go and even companies like Google with all the resources they throw at correct information can't keep an up-to-date accurate list of every restaurant in the world. We threw many dollars at trying to do that for US-only data and it was a giant clusterfuck because even companies who are in the business of providing that data are bad at it, so we stopped even having restaurant listings and went back to just letting people talk about restaurants as part of the broader conversation.

We were pretty good (not perfect) at spotting fake reviews of real restaurants, but a journalist attempting to create a fake restaurant out of thin air just isn't going to trip the usual sorts of alarm bells. There's a base level of good faith that you have to assume for any kind of user submission-based site to work.
posted by jacquilynne at 12:02 PM on December 6 [5 favorites]


and it's not like The Crushing Of Innocent Travelers' Foodie Hopes And Instagram Dreams doesn't happen at 'real' restaurants too.

Seems the French are going in for tiny portions these days. I was at a conference where I felt like a big fat pig going back again and again to the buffet table.
posted by infini at 12:06 PM on December 6


Yeah, I guess it'd be a lot harder to spot the fake reviews for a place that doesn't have any real reviews...
posted by reprise the theme song and roll the credits at 12:08 PM on December 6


On the other hand, planning an entire trip around eating, with plans specifically to attend a #1 restaurant specifically and only because it's the #1 restaurant, is about as bougie as shit gets, so ... fucking whatever?

Despite posting that, I sort of agree. I'm not crying any tears for these people. But the idea that there's no harm done isn't correct, even if the scale or importance of that harm is debatable.
posted by codacorolla at 12:16 PM on December 6 [1 favorite]




Seems the French are going in for tiny portions these days

I know, they served me a single egg and told me it was un oeuf, can you believe that?
posted by uncleozzy at 12:24 PM on December 6 [10 favorites]


foot book and foot egg should do a buddy cop comedy
posted by poffin boffin at 12:29 PM on December 6 [1 favorite]


oh man that's not even a link to the foot book thread and now i have to find it.
posted by poffin boffin at 12:32 PM on December 6 [1 favorite]


Don't read TripAdvisor for reviews, use it to check out traveler photos.
posted by jeff-o-matic at 12:41 PM on December 6 [2 favorites]


The best line in the whole article is this very subtle one in the fake review:

"Our waiter was so attentive, nothing was too much for him."
posted by chavenet at 12:49 PM on December 6


I loved this article.

Though, on the whole "was this unfair to the diners who showed up" debate....I've always found it interesting that people who drop disposable income on restaurant meals for special occasions are often judged more harshly than people who drop equivalent amounts of money on other forms of entertainment.

In my experience, the amount of money I tend to spend on a special occasion meal at a well-known restaurant usually is about equivalent to what I'd spend to see a show on Broadway or to see a popular band, or to get decent seats at a sports game. Since food is my thing and Broadway, concerts, and sports aren't, that's where my entertainment dollar (when I have it) tends to go. But I wouldn't consider someone to be a decadent 0.1% for spending some cash to go see a show or to attend a sports game.

For example, one could easily say, to paraphrase Kafziel above: "planning an entire trip around Broadway shows, with plans specifically to attend a #1 show specifically and only because it's the #1 show is about as bougie as shit gets, so ... fucking whatever?"

I'm not saying that people who are really into food are being unfairly maligned. I am all in favor of mocking those hilariously horrible people who leave pretentious Yelp and TripAdvisor reviews. I do think it's interesting that spending $150 (or whatever) on a meal is sometimes seen as more decadent and grotesque than spending $150 on concert tickets or sports tickets, and I do wonder why that is.
posted by faineg at 12:54 PM on December 6 [12 favorites]


defensible to screw with innocent strangers like this, who for all the writer knows may have been saving up for ages to be able to afford travel abroad.

I am not rich by any means, nor a "foodie" - but if this happened to me - as a guest, I would have a wonderful and hilarious story to tell for the rest of my life. Boo-friggin-hoo.

Laugh a little people - he didn't even charge them for being pretentious idiots, desperate to get into the latest "hot spot", immediately posting their reviews and photographing their food.
posted by jkaczor at 1:00 PM on December 6 [1 favorite]


Yes, everyone had a meal for free, from an place that would have gotten an F from the Restaurant Health Inspector, had one ever been called to inspect it. Thanks?

Actually - considering he purchased frozen/pre-made meals, and had a professional chef prepare them - he did nothing a million other restaurateurs don't when they order from Sysco in North America.

He would have passed with flying colours.

He even hired "actors" - there are certain cities on the West Coast, where they do not hire waitstaff, but instead "models who serve"... So, again... Real techniques.

Think of it as a pop-up restaurant - people were fed, they weren't even charged...
posted by jkaczor at 1:09 PM on December 6 [3 favorites]


Not to belabor my point (ok to belabor it a little): would you assume someone is a pretentious idiot if they wanted to go to a popular Broadway show or a concert for a cool band, and then posted their impressions of it on social media afterwards? Maybe you would! Suppose my point is that I'm not sure why "nice restaurants" are often seen as more pretentious and wanker-y than many other forms of entertainment.

I totally get the food-blogger annoyance, and people who use flash and DLSRs when taking food photos at restaurants where there are other people should be shot into the sun, but...1. most people taking photos of food probably are just Instagramming it for the very mild amusement of themselves and their friends, not making some horrendously overwrought food blog post about the unctuous mouthfeel of the egg-on-foot and 2. let people enjoy things, has not this year shown us there are things so much more horrendous than youths photographing their avocado toast
posted by faineg at 1:26 PM on December 6 [2 favorites]


Come for the food, the assholery is free!

SO IS THE FOOD
posted by Sys Rq at 1:35 PM on December 6 [5 favorites]


Wow, I have cousins who live on Friern Road. I'm going to send them this article and see if they know anything about the fake restaurant or Oobah. I was kind of hoping I'd be able to recognize the house from the pictures but then I realized that all the houses look pretty much the same to me.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 1:37 PM on December 6 [1 favorite]


I am looking at tickets for an upcoming Steelers game where a single standing room ticket where you don't even get a seat is $256.00. Just as a data point for expensive entertainment. (I don't follow sports and this is the first time I've ever actually looked up ticket prices and jumpin' Jehoshaphat!)
posted by soren_lorensen at 1:37 PM on December 6 [5 favorites]


> there is only one type of person who would shell out that much capital just to go to an exclusive restaurant and really, these kinds of people could do worse redistributing their wealth into the accounts of all the folks who provided them the services to get them to this dude's backyard

This is a shitty thing to say. There are a lot of kinds of people who choose to spend their money a lot of different ways, including visiting unusual-sounding restaurants. What exactly is it about restaurants that you deem so worthy of scorn that you think people deserve to be lied to?

Personally, I can't wrap my head around wanting to spend a couple hundred bucks a month on cable TV or a couple thousand dollars to visit Disney World, but to each their own. Ordinary people do these things all the time and no-one sniffs that they are "one kind of person" that deserve to be scammed for their hobby.
posted by desuetude at 1:37 PM on December 6 [11 favorites]


let people enjoy things, has not this year shown us there are things so much more horrendous than youths photographing their avocado toast

Maybe if people weren't so overly concerned with being their own "media" star at the center of the universe, earning invisible "internet points/likes" in a bubble of mutual-masturbatory-congratulation, they would pay more attention and be more engaged to the world around them and it wouldn't be going all to crap...

Bread and circuses.


posted by jkaczor at 1:40 PM on December 6 [1 favorite]


speaking as a millennial, i would submit that we are not the primary demographic that needs to be paying more attention/engaging more in the world around us. please, can we not take brief solace from the screaming horror that is our reality not only in laughing at egg on feet, but also in taking filtered photos of avocado toast with edible flowers on it - briefly, fleetingly, it dulls the existential fear
posted by faineg at 1:44 PM on December 6 [4 favorites]


speaking as a millennial, i would submit that we are not the primary demographic that needs to be paying more

Apologies, didn't mean to continue picking on young people - my statement was aimed at everyone - I see plenty of people in all generations who are tuned-out completely. (In my experience the worst Facebook offenders are my age or older)

... So, gaming the social network/review system is a great way to shake-up peoples mental blocks a little... (I am a big fan of signs posted by "THE MGT")

And yes - taking pictures of things you like isn't a horrible thing. Myself, I have always been more of a "live in the moment" or "be-present" person - I don't want a camera or screen in between my eyes and what I am experiencing, even if my memories do grow fuzzier over time.
posted by jkaczor at 1:54 PM on December 6 [1 favorite]


[A few comments belatedly deleted; some people found this funny, and some people found it distasteful/mean, and it's ok for both to say as much here, but let's still be decent to each other. If you hate Mefites, go do something else rather than hanging around here to say so.]
posted by LobsterMitten at 2:02 PM on December 6 [3 favorites]


I'm not saying that people who are really into food are being unfairly maligned. I am all in favor of mocking those hilariously horrible people who leave pretentious Yelp and TripAdvisor reviews. I do think it's interesting that spending $150 (or whatever) on a meal is sometimes seen as more decadent and grotesque than spending $150 on concert tickets or sports tickets, and I do wonder why that is.

This is an interesting point, and I wonder if it's because the first people to become known for recreational eating were the original 1980s yuppies. I mean, read American Psycho (written by a guy who lived it). They're not just going to expensive restaurants for the status of being able to afford it (though that's part of it). Expensive restaurants have always existed, rich and upper middle class people have always gone to them. But the yuppies cared about their expensive restaurants serving good food, having critical acclaim. They discussed the dishes in detail, they made sushi at home.

I think the outgrowth of that is lots of people realizing that you can also have amazing meals in strip malls, you can try recipes from many other cultures at home, and periodically you can save up to spend $150 for dinner at a restaurant you've heard great things about -- which is super cool. But I think some of that "yuppie" stigma remains.

Plus food is just so culturally emblematic. Living that part of your life differently than the culture you grew up in or currently live in can make people uncomfortable and even insecure which makes it an easy target for accusations of pretentiousness.
posted by mrmurbles at 2:44 PM on December 6 [2 favorites]


I completely understand someone being mad or sad if they were thinking they were getting a certain special kind of night and found out later they didn't.

I just will say that for me personally, I am someone who a) loves to go out to a truly unique and fancy meal at times, and b) thinks conspicuous consumption is a horrific scourge but most of all c) truly loves a dose of absurdity. So for me, this prank hits all my buttons perfectly, and if I went out to this meal and then found out later what was going on, I would have a truly treasured memory as one of the most special dinners out I've ever had.
posted by latkes at 2:50 PM on December 6 [5 favorites]


Also, I am sure I could be taken in by food scams, but I feel like when my wife and I go out to an expensive dinner, we are so pleased if the food is amazing, but we take almost equal pleasure in cattily whispering to each other if the service is bizarre or the food is bland. So going out to a meal of re-heated supermarket food would be kind of hilarious to me even in the moment I think...
posted by latkes at 2:54 PM on December 6


Even taking away the context of fine dining, I think actually taking customers was pretty mean spirited. For me at least, nobody likes to be the rube when everyone else is in on the game. Harmless or not, it's a sucky feeling, especially when you're there on a special occasion.
posted by Think_Long at 3:03 PM on December 6 [6 favorites]


What I've learned from this thread is that if I got free tickets to a jazz show, and instead it was a super shitty night of standup comedy, a bunch of people would jump on any complaints with "oh my god just shut up and enjoy it you over moneyed bougie jackass, how dare you be such a simpleminded plutocrat as to have wanted to go to a jazz show in the first place, some people would love to go to a standup comedy night, maybe if you weren't so stuck up the world wouldn't be in such a terrible place!"
posted by the agents of KAOS at 3:07 PM on December 6 [5 favorites]


So am I the only one who didn't know that "Iceland" is a frozen food chain and thought until I was 3/4 of the way through the article that he'd served them Icelandic food?
posted by quaking fajita at 3:14 PM on December 6 [12 favorites]


He should have got the food off the milk float.
posted by Segundus at 3:16 PM on December 6


Wow, the Paris Fashion Week piece was great, especially the ending. Usually for Oobah's bits you feel bad for the people he is pranking, or for Oobah himself, but there weren't any victims in this one.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 3:37 PM on December 6 [1 favorite]


> So am I the only one who didn't know that "Iceland" is a frozen food chain and thought until I was 3/4 of the way through the article that he'd served them Icelandic food?

Treating his guests to a free dinner of hakarl would go a small way towards justifying the assumptions people here are making of the author.
posted by ardgedee at 3:55 PM on December 6 [2 favorites]


What I've learned from this thread is that if I got free tickets to a jazz show, and instead it was a super shitty night of standup comedy, a bunch of people would jump on any complaints with "oh my god just shut up and enjoy it you over moneyed bougie jackass

If you had signed up for the tickets based only on it being the highly exclusive #1 rated act according to internet reviews on a single website, then yeah.
posted by Pyry at 4:19 PM on December 6 [1 favorite]


The thing is, unless the point of the exercise is that these people are pretentious gits worthy of scorn, which doesn’t necessarily seem to be borne out by the tone of the article, the execution is extremely poor. He’s not paying his staff (probably) or rent or insurance, etc. The overhead is essentially zero.

With a trained chef and zero overhead, you can feed all of those people real, fresh food that, while it might not meet gourmet expectations,at least wouldn’t be packaged dreck, for a reasonable sum. Anything you can make and hold is fair game.

So again, unless he really did want to pull a “look at these assholes,” the execution could have been better and wouldn’t have (sorry) left such a sour taste in my mouth.
posted by uncleozzy at 4:31 PM on December 6 [2 favorites]


If you had signed up for the tickets based only on it being the highly exclusive #1 rated act according to internet reviews on a single website, then yeah.

People do this. "Hey man, I just saw this hot trio. Unsigned, but A&R are circling. Catch them now before they blow up!"

Is the thing here that not everyone knows that Yelp is frequently gamed? This is a thing that people don't know.

Also do not understand the apparent assumption of 1:1 ratio between people who eat at fancy restaurants and people who take pictures of their food. I have literally never seen anyone do this, and I do occasionally eat at such establishments.
posted by soren_lorensen at 4:36 PM on December 6 [2 favorites]


There was a website for the fake restaurant, too. It's not enough research to read the reviews, Google the restaurant, and look through the legit-looking website for the place?

My favorite part of the article was TripAdvisor's response. You can just had the bored sigh the author let out before writing it.
posted by meese at 4:44 PM on December 6 [1 favorite]


People do this. "Hey man, I just saw this hot trio. Unsigned, but A&R are circling. Catch them now before they blow up!"

If that trio claims to only perform to small parties of three people at a time and and claims there's a years long waitlist and then it turns out that actually it was performance art about the nature of exclusivity, then yeah I think you should just roll with it. If you are looking for a consistent, predictable experience then maybe the hottest micro-whatever fads are not the right fit for you. The thing that makes you an "over moneyed bougie jackass" is wanting the prestige of being a trend-setter without any of the risk.
posted by Pyry at 5:25 PM on December 6




The amount of pushback on saying "that might have been mean" to the what, four real punters that got a pretty brief mention in the piece is impressive. Hypothetical bad things only happen to people that really deserve them.
posted by lucidium at 6:03 PM on December 6 [1 favorite]


For example, one could easily say, to paraphrase Kafziel above: "planning an entire trip around Broadway shows, with plans specifically to attend a #1 show specifically and only because it's the #1 show is about as bougie as shit gets, so ... fucking whatever?"

Yes, I would say that. If you go to Broadway to see the biggest and most popular show on Broadway specifically because it's the biggest and most popular show on Broadway - doesn't matter what it's about, who's in it, who wrote it, anything other than how fast it sells out and how exclusive it is, according to a single rating site - then fucking whatever if it wasn't to your tastes. Thank you for illustrating my point.
posted by kafziel at 7:58 PM on December 6 [1 favorite]


I thought the article was really funny, right up to the point where he decided to "open" the shed. After that, it just became Jackass style humor, which isn't really my foot egg.
posted by SecretAgentSockpuppet at 8:00 PM on December 6 [2 favorites]


People who like things that other people also like really are the worst, aren't they?
posted by jacquilynne at 8:03 PM on December 6 [1 favorite]


There was a website for the fake restaurant, too. It's not enough research to read the reviews, Google the restaurant, and look through the legit-looking website for the place?


How about mentions in local travel guides and websites, local papers, online magazines/blogs about eating out and going out? Those still exist! And London has plenty of those! There are so many external sources other than Tripadvisor and a place’s own website which is no guarantee of anything.

If you saw a restaurant rated as the number one on Tripadvisor in such a major capital city and it’s a restaurant no one has ever heard of before and no one else you know went to or saw mentioned anywhere else, and you couldn’t find any other external references to it, and you couldn’t even pass by and check how it looks because of the hidden-location by-appointment-only bullshit, wouldn’t you find it very unusual and odd and suspicious?

It’s a shame that the couple who were visiting for the first time got duped but really, eh... how about checking in a Lonely Planet or the like first?
posted by bitteschoen at 12:01 AM on December 7


I might have missed somebody else mentioning it, but easily the best part of this article was where the tripadvisor rep explains that, actually, the only people who create elaborate fake restaurants on tripadvisor are journalists looking for stories about how much tripadvisor sucks.
posted by Berreggnog at 2:27 AM on December 7 [7 favorites]


Yeah, I thought it was funny how the TripAdvisor person basically calls him a tedious jackass, and he sees fit to include it in the article. That's a sign of quality reporting.
posted by bongo_x at 8:36 AM on December 7 [2 favorites]


*slow clap*
posted by RhysPenbras at 10:22 AM on December 7


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