The job of restaurant reviewers is to judge the food and experience put in front of them.
For the most part, it is good but the odd time, you'll get a review so bad it gains huge attention.
This one from Jay Rayner a couple of weeks back spread all over the world and did untold damage to the reputation of the restaurant involved. No reviewer ever sets out to write intentionally bad things about a business but it is the harsh reality of the business.
I've written a few bad ones in my time and as you can expect, the venues mentioned are never too happy. It's hard having all your hard work slammed in a public forum and as a business owner myself, I understand that.
People are never shy about taking a pop at us and no matter how often it happens, it never feels nice.
So, I get what restaurants go through these days - especially with the arrival of Tripadvisor, Twitter and a hundred other review platforms where anybody can have their say.
A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a review of Nolita - a new restaurant in Dublin.
I didn't enjoy the experience and as a reviewer, that's what I wrote. As is to be expected, some agreed and some didn't.
Then yesterday came what has to be the single best reply I've ever seen to a bad review of a restaurant in my life...
Here is the Facebook post in full...
4 weeks ago NoLIta opened it's doors. 4 days later, LovinDublin wrote this post about us
Seeing this on a Friday going in to your first weekend open, you would think it would kill the team spirit, dishearten us and knock us back. We were already giving 110%, so what more could we do? But it in fact, it did the opposite.
In NoLIta we have become a family and a team in a very short space of time. Every staff member has put in so much time and effort to get this beautiful place up and running. Of course we had some hiccups at the start but that’s all part of the journey. We have worked, laughed, broken bread and had fun, with each other every day and night.
We at NoLIta would like to thank Niall for his review and as a small gesture of appreciation we have designed a cocktail especially in his honour. We are proud to introduce 'The Harbo' sampled below by our team. It's made with Vodka, Pepsi (no Coke here sorry), Sugar and lots of Lime (for that real bitter taste).
It's priced at €11 (not €12 Niall, we're sound like that) and is even two different colours, which is interesting, almost like it's got two sides... We implore everyone to pop in and taste the sweetest thing since the Celtic Tiger boom.
With our launch party just days away and summer around the corner, we are proud of how far we've come and the family we've built in our team. We look forward to seeing all of you beautiful people (yes even you Niall) visit us at NoLIta soon.
Peace, Love & Cocktails
The NoLIta Team
To reply with such grace and class is so unheard of and I thought it was truly terrific. To turn a bad review into a positive piece of PR and gain widespread praise for a new venue has to be applauded.
I can't change the review. I can't change the fact that I didn't like the pizza or waited a long time for it to arrive. I can't change that it isn't my type of place.
What I can change is that I'll now go back.
Normally when I have a bad experience, a place is dead to me. There is enough choice around the city so from a personal perspective, I never darken the door again when things go wrong.
With Nolita though, I will go back.
I'll be giving it at least a second chance and possibly a third. Any business that has the nous and smarts to reply to a disgruntled customer in this way and put a positive spin on things must have the talent to operate a venue that improves over time.
Hats off to them.