From EATER.COM: A diner who recently visited restaurant Graham Elliot in Chicago was left disappointed, and did what people on the internet sometimes do: he voiced his displeasure by "carpet bombing" multiple websites (specifically Yelp, Time Out Chicago, Trip Advisor, and Zagat) with a lengthy, negative review, and then emailed chef/proprietor Graham Elliot Bowles asking for a 50% refund.
Bowles did not play along, however, and responded via email: "I'd say you could go "F'" yourself, but I'm a nice guy, so let's just call it even." (The full email exchange is below.) In response, the diner created the Facebook group "Chicagoans Against Graham Elliot" that, at the time of this writing, has only five members. It also featured the above art.
Contacted for comment, chef Bowles had a lot to say in regards to
diners' expectations, the relationship between restaurant and guest,
and what protocol should be followed to appease unhappy diners, which
we happily reprint in full:
let me say that I am not a believer in the idea that the customer is
always right. I feel there should be more of a focus on the
"relationship" between restaurant and guest. You are coming to my house
for dinner, and my team and I will do everything we can to show you a
good time by doing what we do best.
Sometimes what we do isn't what the guest is looking for, and I'm
totally cool with that as we can't be all things to all people. We
generally will be the ones to break-up with the guest first, letting
them know it's us, not them. We mention that we will be happy to call
and make a reso for them at a restaurant that might be better suited to
These things happen...But when you've done your research, made a
reservation, entered the restaurant, read then menu, placed your order,
consumed your food & drinks, and told the manager and server that
"everything is fine"...well then that's where things start to get
By leaving the restaurant and immediately taking the
passive-aggressive road by posting a shit ass review online, then
telling me to pay him back half of his meal, I felt the guest was
trying to scare me into paying him off in hopes that he wouldn't say
anything else that could "hurt our reputation". It's not like we
haven't had people criticize us before, but this gentlemen incorrectly
described each and every dish he complained about (which led me to
believe, like Donnie in the Big Lebowski, he was out of his fucking
Perhaps in a hotel or corporate environment, the protocol would be
to give in, invite them back, comp their bill, offer them a handjob, so
forth and so on. It's for this very reason that I left the hotel world
to do my own thing. I think as more and more Chefs open their own
restaurants and do their own PR work (via Twitter, Facebook, etc) this
will be a more common occurrence, and hopefully it will level out the
playing field and make those who hide behind their computers realize
that we won't take their shit lying down.
— Graham Elliot Bowles
The original email to Graham Elliot Bowles:
Please find below my review submitted to Yelp, TimeOut Chicago,
TripAdvisor, and Zagat. Overall, it was a very disappointing
experience. I would like to have a 50% refund.
We visited Graham Elliott at the suggestion of my fiancee. We
entered the restaurant and were greeted at the host stand in a rather
curt manner. They asked us to leave by 7 PM because they had a reserved
The prices are extraordinarily high, even for Chicago. We ordered
Foie Gras mousse lollipops coated in PopRocks. I would have preferred
the Pop Rocks alone as the Foie Gras mouse was overly salty, drowning
out the flavor. We received about a tablespoon worth of Foie Gras
mousse for $5. Hardly worth the price.
We then ordered the beef carpaccio appetizer. We received four
cracker sized slices of overly fatty beef sliced as thin as supermarket
luncheon meat. Underneath the meat was a luke warm stick of cream
cheese. This was $10.
We then received the pan seared scallops costing $10. We received
two scallops in an orange glaze. While good, $5 per scallop was a bit
ridiculous given the relatively simple presentation. By comparison,
Morton's provides $10 scallops wrapped in bacon for $15.
We then shared an entree, selecting the Halibut for $31. We received
a piece of halibut that was 2 inches by 2 inches square and
undercooked! It came with no sides other than the green puree the
halibut sat on top of on the plate.
We then ordered two desserts at $10 each. We ordered a strawberry
sponge cake and a pineapple upside down cake with mango sorbet. The
strawberry dessert was once a cake. It looked like someone gave us
three crumbles of an angel food cake left over from lunch with gave us
two peeled strawberries cut in half with some cool whip. Hardly worth
$10. The pineapple dessert was chunks of vanilla marinated pineapple
chunks that looked like came out of a Dole can. The cake accompanying
the pineapple tasted like a left of McMuffin.
When the check came, I found out that the two four ounce portions of
Coke cost me $3 each, with NO FREE REFILLS! Coke costs 10 cents.
Therefore, between my fiancee and I, the restaurant received a $8.70!
Overall the experience was REALLY souring. We were so hungry that we
actually went to the local Whole Foods Market and filled up on two
slices of Pizza and two miniature Cheesecakes all for $15 after
spending $122 for what was supposed to be DINNER and not an evening
If you are in the area, try Carmine's Italian or for Cuisine similar
to Graham Elliot, Roy's Hawaiian Fusion. RHF offers triple the size
portions at 2/3 the price!
Graham Elliot Bowles' email response to the diner:
Is this a joke? I think I will post onto Yelp, TimeOut
Chicago, TripAdvisdor and Zagat as well, announcing how much of an
amateur you are. What with your name dropping Morton's, splitting an
entree and complaining about dishes you clearly have no understanding
about. As for the 50% refund, I'd say you could go "F'" yourself, but
I'm a nice guy, so let's just call it even. Next time you come in,
we'll charge you double.
Later, Bowles was amused, tweeting:
"I luv it! Facebook page called 'Chicagoans Against Graham Elliot'
created by someone who didn't like my response to his Yelp post. Bring