A chef in the United Kingdom has slammed a "gutless keyboard warrior" who left a one-star TripAdvisor review about his restaurant after complaining that her salad was "cold".
Jamie O'Leary, owner of JOL's in Merthyr Tydfil in Wales, accused the woman of leaving a "misleading" review and attempting to damage his reputation. The 36-year-old complained to the website to have the woman's review taken down, only for her to post a second time.
"She moaned in her first review that her cucumber kachumber salad was cold," he told The Mirror. "I had to point out there's a clue on the menu she should have spotted — the word salad. We don't serve them hot."
Of the restaurant's 241 reviews on TripAdvisor, 91 per cent are either "very good" or "excellent", 6 per cent are "average" or "poor" and just 3 per cent are "terrible".
"We don't want unhappy customers and TripAdvisor tells us that most people think we are turning out excellent food with excellent service," he said. "I don't usually bite back but it was hurtful to me and my hardworking staff."
According to the review by "Liz from Dorset", the crab balls were "rock hard", the salmon was undercooked, the swede was "over-caramelised so it was unrecognisable" and "what should have been hot food was cold but conversely the ice-cream was served on hotplates so it arrived as a melted blob".
She compared the restaurant to Fawlty Towers with "dreadful", "overpriced" food and the "slowest service I've ever encountered in a restaurant which only had 12 other people dining". Liz accused the owner of making "hollow claims" about the quality of the food but "fails to state its provenance or state any ethical source".
Writing on the website, O'Leary said he usually would "rise above dignifying" the review with a response but her "persistence" in her "smear campaign" had "grabbed our attention". "Today you are in luck, strap in Liz as it's going to get bumpy," he wrote.
"First of all there are no 'crab balls' on our crab dish, I believe what has confused you is the Irish soda bread, believe me we've tried to bake crustless bread but our ambition clearly outweighs our talent as we still haven't quite cracked it," he said.
"The salmon is not undercooked, it's cured and poached at 40 degrees as you would have been told at the point of ordering, admittedly it does look slightly different to the stuff that comes from a tin but that's the way we like."
On the "hollow claims" about provenance, O'Leary said he could "very well fill up the menu with the names and addresses of all the meat and fish we use but it can turn the menu into a rather longwinded affair".
"I've taken the liberty of inserting some examples. 'Curried Salmon with Spiced Potato Naan, Onion Pakora, Tomato & Cucumber Kachumber Salad and Riata', or 'Curried Phil the Salmon from Loch Duart, 25, Single, Enjoys Long Swims and Cosy Nights In, Looking for Someone with Similar Interests with Spiced Potato Naan, Onion Pakora, Tomato & Cucumber Kachumber salad and Riata.'"
He argued £23 (NZ$45) for three courses wasn't overpriced, "in fact, it's something of a bargain, but some people go out to feed, others go out to eat".
"TripAdvisor is a fantastic tool for both businesses and the public alike; however, there is always the risk of it falling into the wrong hands, gutless keyboard warriors who simply have nothing better to do than try to damage hardworking businesses' reputations," O'Leary said.
"All of my staff treat the restaurant as their own and work hard to maintain the very high standards that we aspire to so it's frustrating for everyone when someone just wants to make a noise. We look forward to seeing you again soon, Elizabeth from Dorset, but in the meantime happy trolling."