Word of Mouth

Question of ethics: Should food writers call out restaurants that serve them foreign objects?

Over the weekend, New York Times writer Mark Bittman posed a question to readers on his personal blog: Should he out the name of the restaurant that served him shards of plastic in his soup?

Foreign objects provide an interesting conundrum for food journalists. Many of us keep silent on hairs and dead bugs because more often than not, those things are a fluke, and restaurants tend to react appropriately when diners point them out. But we'd likely write about a restaurant that DIDN'T react appropriately, as in Bittman's case, where the manager wasn't very apologetic and still charged the man for his soup. We'd also likely out a spot that served us something potentially dangerous, like a piece of glass or a screw.

The question is, are we obligated to call out the missteps along with the triumphs?

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Laura Shunk was Westword's restaurant critic from 2010 to 2012; she's also been food editor at the Village Voice and a dining columnist in Beijing. Her toughest assignment had her drinking ten martinis and eating ten Caesar salads over the course of 48 hours. She still drinks martinis, but remains lukewarm on Caesar salads.
Contact: Laura Shunk