LA Times restaurant critic refused service, outed by restaurateur

Is critic anonymity overrated?

Is critic anonymity overrated?

There's been a lot of chatter in the blogosphere surrounding LA Times restaurant critic S. Irene Virbila's experience attempting to review Red Medicine restaurant in Beverly Hills on Tuesday night. While waiting for a table with several companions, the restaurant's managing partner, Noah Ellis, took Virbila's picture without her permission and then ordered Virbila and her party to leave. Ellis then posted her picture on the restaurant's Tumblr site, with a few choice remarks.


Food critics aren't a protected class, so Ellis decision not to serve Virbila is, I suppose, his prerogative. But the outing--which Ellis said he did because he does not like her reviews, finding some of them "unnecessarily cruel and irrational" and wanted to help all LA restaurateurs make the choice of whether or not to serve her--seems extremely rude. Regardless of how necessary anonymity is to a critic's work, photographing someone without their permission and posting the image on the Internet is pretty gauche. Now Virbila has firsthand experience with the battle Hollywood celebs wage with paparazzi.

Interestingly, The Times still plans to review Red Medicine and I'll be curious to see how Virbila handles the situation.