In the age of ranting Yelp reviews, restaurants rarely do much more than grimace at a particularly negative newspaper review, but 11 years ago, when the late Sydney restaurant Coco Roco received a scathing review in the Sydney Morning Herald, the restaurant closed just six months later. The reviewer, Matthew Evans, declared that “the best thing about the restaurant was the view,” among other allegedly defamatory remarks. Now, after a legal battle that went on for more than a decade, a judge has ruled that Fairfax Media, which owns the Sydney Morning Herald, must pay $600,000 in damages to the owners of the now-shuttered restaurant: Aleksandra Gacic, Ljiljana Gacic, and Branislav Ciric.
Criticism is by definition subjective, and nowadays negative reviews sometimes even go viral, like Pete Wells’ hilarious review of Guy Fieri’s American Kitchen and Bar (“Hey, did you try that blue drink, the one that glows like nuclear waste?”).
But sometimes feedback crosses the line from constructive to cruel. Evans’ negative review, included phrases like “the restaurant is touted as Sydney’s most glamorous restaurant, which would be true if glamour peaked around 1985,” and, “why anyone would put apricots in a sherry-scented wine sauce is beyond me.”
After the review was published, patronage declined dramatically and the restaurant shut down six months later. Matthew Evans, on the other hand, now lives as a pig farmer in rural Tasmania.
Joanna Fantozzi is an Associate Editor with The Daily Meal. Follow her on Twitter @JoannaFantozzi