After receiving a scathing review of his new restaurant Cleaver East from Sunday Independent restaurant critic Lucinda O'Sullivan, chef Oliver Dunne posted a photoshopped picture to Twitter that showed him holding a cleaver while his colleague holds an image of O'Sullivan's severed head. Dunne, whose Bon Appetit is one of Ireland's only eight Michelin-starred restaurants, has since removed the picture, but the Independent has it posted along with their report on the scandal. The photoshopped picture was apparently sent to the chef by mail, already framed. His comment on Twitter was simply: "Lol, look what I got in the post!" Not surprisingly, many who saw it on Twitter found the photo "tasteless" and "unnecessary."
The conflict between O'Sullivan and Dunne began when the critic dropped a negative review of Dunne's new restaurant Cleaver East last weekend. In her review, she wrote the concept of the restaurant "hadn't been fully thought through" and that a waiter "embarrassed" her with credit card authorization problems. The review ran with a publicity photo of Dunne holding a cleaver (instead of a severed critic's head it featured a pig's head). Dunne wrote a lengthy response on his restaurant's blog in which he calls O'Sullivan's review "completely inaccurate and unacceptable." He broaches the hot topic of critics reviewing restaurants shortly after they open, and says her decision to review them on their second night of business makes him "question [her] integrity."
Dunne isn't the first restaurateur to bite back after a negative review. Last week in New York City, the barbecue gurus at Mighty Quinn's claimed GQ restaurant man Alan Richman's review was "categorically false." The long list of restauranteaurs that have bitten back at reviewers also includes David Chang, José Andrés, and overseas, Keith McNally. However, a photo of a severed head does seem a bit more extreme than simply disagreeing with a review.