Restaurant Owners Win $600K for Food Critic’s Mean Review

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Not the critic in question, but you get the picture. Photo: iStockphoto

The owners of Coco Roco, once "Sydney's most glamorous restaurant," have prevailed in an 11-year-long defamation case against then–Sydney Morning Herald food critic Matthew Evans, whose 2003 review savaged the $3 million joint as "a bleak spot on the culinary landscape" where the pork belly was the "porcine equal of parched Weet-Bix" and then some. Owners Aleksandra Gacic, Ljiljana Gacic, and Branislav Ciric closed up six months later, then say they kept struggling, apparently, because the review remained online — weird! Now, one mistrial and several legal stumbles later, the trio is entitled to about $600,000 — original damages plus a decade of interest — from the Morning Herald's publisher.

As for the takedown itself — which is hardly "Pete Wells at Guy's American Kitchen"-level scathing — the costly error was failing "to clarify that Coco Roco was actually two restaurants," Coco and Roco, and Evans was only dismantling the more upscale Coco, so who knows what culinary pleasures Roco might've delivered? (The online version now reads, "Coco Roco is actually two restaurants.") Evans, for what it's worth, seems to have moved on; he departed for the island of Tasmania, where he's switched mediums and now fronts a popular, and, by comparison, more placid-sounding TV show called Gourmet Farmer.

$600,000 Restaurant Review: Fairfax Loses 11-Year Defamation Battle [Guardian]