There’s nothing like a restaurant review to bring on an entertaining defamation case, so I am following the early stages of what promises to be a lengthy saga between the Adelaide Hilton’s Grange Dining Room and the food editor for the Weekend Australian, John Lethlean, with a real voyeuristic interest. Lethlean set things rolling with a piece in the Weekend Oz that gives this restaurant a rattling good bake which I could not do justice to with just a few extracts. Read the whole thing. It’s criticism of the sharpest, cruelest and wittiest kind. And criticism made all the more upsetting for the hotel because it came on the eve of what was surely meant to be one of its night of nights.
The Hilton has long promoted Cheong Liew as the face of The Grange under the slogan “Who’s cooking your dinner tonight”. And last night he accepted a lifetime achievement award from the city’s peak hospitality body, Restaurant and Catering SA. Not that the Malaysian-born celebrity chef is accepting responsibility for serving what a critic considered to be unsatisfactory value for $169 a head without wine.
As he prepared to accept the award from his peers, Liew broke his silence to tell The Australian this morning he had not read the review but but it was up to the management of the hotel, which hosts The Grange Restaurant, to maintain standards. “If a person is not happy about the restaurant, it’s up to you to talk to the Hilton, it’s nothing to do with me,” he said. “I’m purely a consultant. I’m there to train them to do the dishes and I’m training them to develop the culture.”
Exactly what that culture is, is now a matter of some conjecture and well might the diners ask “who’s cooking their dinner tonight.”