Lon­don’s top eatery a fake

The Citizen (KZN) - - NEWS -

A nonex­is­tent restau­rant sup­pos­edly based in a gar­den shed briefly be­came Lon­don’s top eat­ing place on travel and restau­rant web­site TripAd­vi­sor, which yes­ter­day hit back at the hoax­ers.

The Shed at Dul­wich, based in a south Lon­don back gar­den, of­fered in­vited guests con­cep­tual dishes named af­ter moods, in­clud­ing “Lust – rab­bit kid­neys on toast”; “Em­pa­thetic – ve­gan clams in a clear broth”; and “Con­tem­pla­tion – a de­con­structed Aberdeen stew”.

The menu was ac­com­pa­nied by mouth­wa­ter­ing pho­to­graphs of the dishes which, in re­al­ity, were com­prised of bleach tablets, shav­ing foam, gloss paint and even a fried egg rested against a hu­man foot.

“One day, sit­ting in the shed I live in, I had a rev­e­la­tion: within the cur­rent cli­mate of mis­in­for­ma­tion ... maybe a fake restau­rant is pos­si­ble?” said Oobah But­ler, who has a his­tory of pulling pranks for news and en­ter­tain­ment web­site vice.com.

“In that mo­ment, it be­came my mis­sion. With the help of fake re­views, mys­tique and non­sense, I was go­ing to do it: turn my shed into Lon­don’s top-rated restau­rant on TripAd­vi­sor,” he wrote.

Start­ing at num­ber 18 149 – the worst restau­rant in Lon­don – “The Shed” worked its way up the rank­ings, thanks to fake re­views.

One re­viewer wrote: “As the sun was set­ting we were of­fered blan­kets – we po­litely de­clined (one had a stain on) but a nice touch, adds to the al­fresco feel!”

The restau­rant was soon in­un­dated with book­ings, PR of­fers and me­dia re­quests, shoot­ing its rat­ing to the num­ber one spot just six months af­ter its ini­tial list­ing.

Bow­ing to pop­u­lar de­mand, the restau­rant even­tu­ally opened its doors, with din­ers treated to ready meals from bud­get su­per­mar­ket Ice­land.

TripAd­vi­sor said in a state­ment yes­ter­day: “Gen­er­ally, the only peo­ple who cre­ate fake restau­rant list­ings are jour­nal­ists in mis­guided at­tempts to test us.

“As there is no in­cen­tive for any­one in the real world to cre­ate a fake restau­rant, it is not a prob­lem we ex­pe­ri­ence with our reg­u­lar com­mu­nity – there­fore this ‘test’ is not a real world ex­am­ple.” – AFP

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