Jay Rayner under fire from French gastronomes

The Observer’s restaurant critic may have bitten off more than he can chew with his withering review of Paris’s Le Cinq


Jay Rayner is one of the UK’s pre-eminent food writers. But he doesn’t mince his words. His assessment of Le Cinq in this week’s Observer  is marked by a directness that has become his signature.

The review opens “There is only one thing worse than being served a terrible meal: being served a terrible meal by earnest waiters who have no idea just how awful the things they are doing to you are.”

The restaurant at the Four Seasons Hôtel George V in Paris may boast three-Michelin-stars, but it completely failed to please the restaurant critic who has been called ‘Acid Rayner’

“In terms of value for money and expectation Le Cinq supplied by far the worst restaurant experience I have endured in my 18 years in this job.”

French newspapers have taken exception to Rayner’s forthright assessment of one of the chief jewels in France’s culinary crown.

Le Figaro asks “What fly stung the treacherous critic?”

In Libération, restaurant reviewer Elvire von Bardeleben dismisses Rayner’s review as mere contrarianism rather than a serious attempt to appraise the chef’s work: “This isn’t criticism, it’s entertainment. It’s very excessive to provoke laughter…He came to make fun of a French chef with a funny and effective speech on anti-rich rhetoric…It’s also a logical Englishman versus pretentious French frog eaters.”

But, predictably, the hottest examples of ire were manifested on social media.

Rayner has retweeted some of the angrier messages himself in a bid to defuse them:

Rayner grew up in Harrow, and learned his first lessons about food from his Jewish mother. A pigeon served so rare that ‘it just might fly again given a few volts’ was never going to pass muster.

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