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Walnutgate - a Twitter storm

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picture of Lady Dinah

Earlier this week, Harden’s sent out stickers and ‘certificates’ to restaurants included in our 2014 guides. Those certificates contain the editorial review we compiled as it appears in the 2014 guides, based on the survey we conducted last year of some 9,000 restaurant-goers across the UK.

We try not to send out certificates to restaurants which probably wouldn’t want to use them. Waste of time and money. With 3,000-odd to vet, though, the odd rogue can slip through…

…As it did to a restaurant called Sticky Walnut in Chester. Sticky Walnut is actually rather favourably reviewed in the guide – click here – where, on the basis of the survey, it is rated ‘very good’ for food and ambience, and ‘good’ for service. The text of the review, however, ends on a downer – “there is the odd critic, however, for whom it’s become “very average” – so this is a case in which we wouldn’t intentionally have sent a certificate out.

So what would the average restaurateur do, if he received such a certificate? Bin it, presumably. Not the proprietor of Sticky Walnut, however, who took to Twitter to proclaim his dissatisfaction, in fairly intemperate terms. Meat and drink, of course, to the usual awkward squad on Twitter, who decided this was a Big Deal.

The actual facts, however, were trivial going-on banal: Restaurant Guide Makes Minor Administrative Error. We’re quite happy the review itself was correct – the only error was to send the review to the restaurant in certificate form, which was (unintentionally) tactless.

At Harden’s, we’ve always believed in owning up to our mistakes, so we quickly tweeted: “Much excitement about our error sending cert to @StickyWalnut (to whom apologies). Overall review rather positive! http://bit.ly/1cQ02UT”

You’d have thought, in a rational world, it might all have ended there. Minor transgression followed by public apology – what more could anyone reasonably want?

But the brouhaha on Twitter – often based on ignorance and/or misstatement of the basic facts – has just grown and grown, though it will doubtless have huffed and puffed its way to extinction by the end of the day. But it’s still kinda scary: so much smoke, without anything you could really call a fire.

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