Rochelle Tumbridge-Wells, a 32 year old amateur food critic who blogs as FoodKweenDXB, last night visited Mario’s Kitchen, a high-end Italian, with her husband. Reviewing her dining experience later in the evening, she began positively, describing her starter and main course as “plate-lickingly good” and “totally delish”, respectively.
However, joy was to quickly turn to despair when she focussed her scrutiny on the dessert. In an unprecedented two-sentence outburst, Tumbridge-Wells suggested that the strawberry cheesecake – a firm favourite among the city’s culinary blognoscenti – was “disappointingly sweet” and “not entirely scrumdiddlyumptious”.
Posted at 10.35pm, the 350-word food review, complete with hastily-taken, underlit photos, had already received several thousand hits by midnight, and soon become a talking point on popular social networking platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Bebo.
Stirred from their evening slumbers, several fellow online culinary scribes from the region raced to the defence of the cheesecake. Expressing her concerns on Twitter, @FattoushSandra described Tumbridge-Wells’ review as “evil” and “wildly misguided”, while @MezzeEater suggested the blogger should “take a long hard look at herself” before publicising such comments in the future.
But it wasn’t only Tumbridge-Wells’ detractors who took to their keyboards. Within hours of the situation unfolding, the writer had received messages of support from several other areas of the online community.
Writing on his Alan Of Arabia blog, Alan DeWitt said that “while he didn’t agree with the review, Ms Tumbridge-Wells was entitled to her opinion”. A similar view was echoed by @DubaiCupcakeScoffer, who suggested those who criticised the review “stood against the principles of free speech”.
With the review’s fallout only swelling throughout the night, Fluffy Communications, the PR agency representing Mario’s Kitchen, moved into full crisis mode this morning.
A press release issued at 10.34am said that the management were “deeply saddened” by the review and “had expected the FoodQueenDXB blog to be more balanced in its findings”.
It also confirmed that the restaurant would be closed until further notice while “a full investigation takes place, and counselling is provided for those affected by the review.”
Tunbridge-Wells declined to comment, but posted a short statement on her blog, which read: “I cant believe all the fuss. Hubby says much more of this and we will have to eat at home for a whole month til fuss dies down! :(”