Wednesday, March 7, 2007

What a crazy world...

By no means do I pretend to be a food critic - but if I were, this would frighten me.

Dan Gross | Chops Sues LaBan

A THREE-SENTENCE restaurant review has led to a high-steaks lawsuit from Chops Restaurant (401 City Ave.) against Inqwaster food critic Craig LaBan and Philadelphia Media Holdings, which owns the Inqwaster and Daily News.

In his "Or Try These" sidebar to his Feb. 4 review of Fleming's in Radnor, LaBan called Chops, a popular Bala Cynwyd steakhouse, the "Palm on City Line," where he had a "miserably tough and fatty strip steak."

However, according to the suit filed by Chops owner Alex Plotkin, LaBan had a steak sandwich minus the bread, not a strip steak.

"No legitimate food critic would ever mistake, or compare, a steak sandwich with a strip steak," the lawsuit states.

Plotkin, who prides himself on Chops' chops, says in the suit that he had called LaBan about the review and that LaBan had "apologized for the 'confusion,' admitted he did not have a strip steak and 'saw [Plotkin's] point,' but would not publish a retraction in his column."

LaBan instead asked Plotkin to visit his online forum at where they could discuss the issue. Plotkin declined to participate in the online debate, the libel suit, filed in Common Pleas Court, states.

LaBan declined to comment for this story. His reviews have been credited or blamed, depending on whom you ask, with making or breaking restaurants. The critic is known to be extraordinarily protective of his identity during restaurant visits, employing disguises and aliases.

"We stand behind Craig's comments and we are going to defend this case vigorously," Rob Barron, general counsel for PMH, told us yesterday.

*Story from the Philadelphia Daily News (2.21.07)

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