The Coastal Packet: Three Portland restaurants ban food reviewer

Tuesday, May 12

Three Portland restaurants ban food reviewer


Press Herald - A longtime local food blogger has been banned from eating at three Portland restaurants because he reviewed one of them after the owners had asked him not to do so.

John Golden, who writes the blog The Golden Dish, on MaineToday.com, received an email last week from Arlin Smith, Andrew Taylor and Mike Wiley – who collectively own Hugo’s, Eventide and The Honey Paw – telling him that he is no longer welcome in any of their establishments.

“We wanted to take this opportunity to assure you that we were quite serious when we offered you the choice between dining at our restaurants and writing about them,” it read. “As pleased as we all were that you enjoyed a ‘ten-star’ meal at The Honey Paw, we must remind you that it was your last. Please understand that we are well within our rights to refuse you service, and that the choice to dine or to write was your own.”

Taylor and Wiley said that they are banning Golden from their restaurants because they find him and his writing unprofessional. They said Smith was not available for comment. (MaineToday.com and the Portland Press Herald are both operated by MaineToday Media.)

Golden said he wasn’t surprised to receive the restaurateurs’ email, because they had given him an ultimatum, but he said the decision to ban him is “ridiculous.”

“Smith said to me, ‘We don’t want you to represent us,’ and I said, ‘I don’t represent anyone. That’s not what a critic is,'” said Golden, who has also written for Downeast magazine, The New York Times, The Boston Globe and Gourmet, as well as the Maine Sunday Telegram.

“We’re opening ourselves up to criticism,” Taylor said. “There will be people who are going to say, ‘What a bunch of jerks,’ but that’s not necessarily who we are. I’m sure there will be others in the industry who say, ‘Good for you.’ I don’t think we’re alone in thinking John Golden isn’t a particularly professional food writer for this town.”

And apparently it is legal to ban a writer....

Wiley especially disliked something Golden wrote recently about several local restaurants. The piece, posted to The Golden Dish in February, mentioned Hugo’s and Eventide, but what annoyed Wiley most was Golden’s comparison of another restaurant – Ribollita – to a “goiter.”

“Was that necessary?” Wiley asked. “And because he wrote about us, it almost feels like we’re ratifying that statement.”

In that same post, Golden included a photo of Taylor wearing a bright orange knit cap. Golden referred to Taylor as “hat model and chef/co-owner.” Taylor said he found the comment petty and personal.

“Some of what he might regard as folksiness doesn’t come off as, ‘I’m here to review the food,’ ” Wiley said. “There is just more personality injected into his pieces than we think is appropriate.”

Golden said the hat comment was a joke.

Taylor and Wiley said Golden also has made errors in his blog, such as mislabeling dishes in photos.

No comments: