Craig LaBan’s Bad, Bad, Bad Day

Everyone’s favorite food critic, Craig LaBan, has some problems. Several months ago, the Inquirer critic mentioned City Avenue steakhouse Chops in a sidebar to a review of another steakhouse and said he had a bad meal. LaBan really didn’t like the strip steak there. He called it “miserably tough and fatty.”

So what did Chops owner Alex Plotkin do? He sued Craig LaBan, saying that the critic really had a “steak sandwich without bread.” The case has dragged on for the past couple of months, but LaBan was forced to give a videotaped disposition for the public record on June 5th— without a disguise. As you might gather, that is rather bad for a food critic, who depends on anonynmity to fairly judge restaurants. Both the Philadelphia Weekly and Philafoodie are offering detailed rundowns on the case. In the Weekly, Philafoodie author (and lawyer) David Snyder notes the disposition is a savvy move on the part of Chops:


“To me, as a lawyer, this looks like a tactic—it was a tactic for them to take his videotaped deposition. If you know the guy on other end of the lawsuit needs to protect his identity, this is a great way to put your thumb in the wound to try and leverage some kind of settlement, and that’s troubling.”If anything, that restaurants take such pains to identify LaBan, and the best they can come up with is a 10-year-old photograph, may prove just how valuable a commodity his anonymity really is. It also suggests that if a current video of LaBan talking and answering questions were aired in a public courthouse—as one could be in the near future—restaurateurs figure to pack the seats.

Everyone’s favorite food critic, Craig LaBan, has some problems. Several months ago, the Inquirer critic mentioned City Avenue steakhouse Chops in a sidebar to a review of another steakhouse and said he had a bad meal. LaBan really didn’t like the strip steak there. He called it “miserably tough and fatty.”

So what did Chops owner Alex Plotkin do? He sued Craig LaBan, saying that the critic really had a “steak sandwich without bread.” The case has dragged on for the past couple of months, but LaBan was forced to give a videotaped disposition for the public record on June 5th— without a disguise. As you might gather, that is rather bad for a food critic, who depends on anonynmity to fairly judge restaurants. Both the Philadelphia Weekly and Philafoodie are offering detailed rundowns on the case. In the Weekly, Philafoodie author (and lawyer) David Snyder notes the disposition is a savvy move on the part of Chops:

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Craig LaBan’s Bad, Bad, Bad Day