Kiren Puri won widespread support for his scathing response to an online food critic. Photo: www.thebladeboneinn.com
A dissatisfied pub diner who posted a scathing, anonymous review about the quality of food at a country English pub has been served up with an angry response by the pub's owner, who accused the diner of lying about his experience in a bid to get free food.
Kiren Puri, the owner and chef at the Bladebone Inn in Bucklebury in Berkshire, has received messages of support from around the world after he wrote a 1000-word reply to the anonymous diner on the review website TripAdvisor.
"You claim to be foodies. I have never met a self-professed foodie start his meal with a bowl of chips," wrote Mr Puri in his response.
Mr Puri also disputed the diner's claim that he left half his meal on the plate because it was inedible, claiming he had CCTV vision to prove it.
"Now I think someone has a little problem here telling the truth. I saw the plate, and our CCTV shows that next to nothing was left, I would be more than happy to show you these images if your memory is hazy," Mr Puri wrote.
The diner, who calls himself S1nsand on TripAdvisor, complained that the pub, which is near the family home of the Duchess of Cambridge, had "aweful (sic) food and dire complaint handling". The diner described it as "one of the worst evenings out in a while".
The customer, who was eating with his parents, ordered beef ribs with marrow bone mash, which he said was “all fine except the rib was so tough that it was practically inedible”.
In his one-star review, the diner said he complained to the waitress, who said she would talk to the chef. But the diner said he did not hear back.
“When the bill was presented there was no acknowledgement of our feedback,” he wrote.
The diner said he then “asked for some gesture” but the staff appeared to be “very concerned about the scene developing” and told them they did not need to pay.
He said: “We chose to pay for the third meal and drinks and left quite amazed at the immature customer service and bad food.”
But Mr Puri, who trained at the renowned Roux brothers' Waterside Inn at Bray, accused the diner of lying.
While Mr Puri said he usually ignored such online reviews, he felt compelled to respond because it was simply "unfair and untrue". He said S1nsand was the kind of customer who was a "disease upon our wonderful industry, and it must be addressed".
Mr Puri said he and the head chef had tasted the small amount of the meal that was left on the diner's plate, and the meat was "tender and unctuous".
"We served six other portions that evening to a universal response of 'excellent', although I am open to the suggestion that food fairies may have bought another one into the building and replaced the one on your plate as a personal slight against you. Naughty fairies!" wrote Mr Puri.
He also disputed that the group had left enough money to cover one meal and drinks. "It did not cover that," Mr Puri wrote.
"The money was dispatched into the Air Ambulance charity box. If that is the value that you put on a meal in my restaurant, I would rather not have it."
Mr Puri advised the diner to stick to venues that would satisfy him, including chains that "have endless capital and will not mind gifting you the freebies and discounts that you so obviously crave".
He also advised the diner to "have a little respect for your fellow guests".
"Your parents appeared to be as embarrassed to be with you as I was to have you in my restaurant. That's not fair on anyone," he wrote.
Mr Puri told The Daily Mail he had received supportive emails and tweets from Britain, Australia and America congratulating him on his response.
"This man's review was an unfair representation of the evening. He came here with the wrong attitude, he was looking for things to complain about. I am very quick to take off money if the food is not up to standard, probably too quick, but I wouldn't on this occasion because there was nothing wrong," he told the paper.