I'd like to post the letter I sent to Chicago's Editor In Chief about factual errors in Mr. Ruby's review:
There is a reasonable presumption of privacy in a private dining venue. I shall hope you will contemplate a public apology in the magazine for the transgressions of Mr. Jeff Ruby's article on Elizabeth Restaurant, since Mr. Ruby, beyond numerous factual inaccuracies, failed to obtain a release waiver from any of us at the table before a) writing about us in a libelous manner and then later b) attaching our names to the article through a set of twitter exchanges.
I would like to follow up [Fellow Diner]'s letter to you with a list of factual errors in Ruby's article, since I realize (as someone who put myself through school as a restaurant reviewer and board member for a major guide-book series) all "opinions" by a critic are subjective (and ultimately a matter of taste). Differences of opinion I can handle (and welcome), extreme rudeness by Mr. Ruby I can handle (albeit it being unpleasant), but factual errors show a sloppy writer beneath the standards that your magazine surely demands and expects of its paid writers. It does a disservice to the restaurant, the critic's reputation, and the magazine. It opens the larger Tribune Company to possible unwanted actions in their already fairly perilous financial straits.
Some of the factual inaccuracies:
1) I am a former concert pianist (who occasionally records now). Since Mr. Ruby wasn't listening very well, he didn't realize I was primarily a business owner of an import/export company among my other ventures.
2) The person across the table from me was an editor, not a computer geek. His dining companion is a manager, and enthusiast about technology, but again, hardly a computer geek. They are also not foodies, merely friends interested in exceptional meals (this was one of their first fine dining experiences).
3) The meal was 4, not 5 hours after the late, unapologetic and extremely late arrival of Mr Ruby and his wife.
4) Dinner companion never stated having 20 pounds of deer tenderloin in his freezer.
5) Dinner companion is an expert at sous vide, our main criticism of the food all evening being uneven sous vide treatment of the potatoes (the supposed lauded highlight of Mr. Ruby's meal). He is not thus, ill-informed!
6) I heard both the Canadians and other Dinner companion, as well as the guests across the table from me pronounce foie gras correctly numerous times. I lived in France and I'm conversationally fluent in French. The main French mispronunciations of the evening came from Mr. Ruby's wife (whom attempted to mis-correct me at one point on the word "cassis") and the stand-in Sommelier (the previous one having left his position just the day before) apologized openly (and forgivably) for butchering a few wine names.
7) Mr. Ruby was not "quiet." I heard numerous attacks against us, the other guests at the table, and even of the waitstaff (within ear-shot of them). For having been accused of being so "smug," - isn't it ironic that Ruby also considers himself "superior?"
We were quite attentive whenever Iliana was present. There is a sound issue in the restaurant where one end of the table cannot hear everything at the other end of the table. Perhaps this is how Mr. Ruby misheard so much (and why a few times, we needed her to repeat an ingredient or explain something again, given her soft-spoken nature).
9) At my end of the table, we were, with one exception, android users.
10) Dinner companion was pointing at the preparation of the foie gras in the kitchen for the next day, before they injected the creme de cassis into it. Not a marshamallow.
11) "Tab does not include alcohol, tax, or tip." is incorrect. The tax or tip ON alcohol is not included, but tax and tip for the meal is included in the initial ticket price.
Critics are often able to get away with stretching the truth, or omitting or adding details when they write. This, every informed reader, expects to an extent - after all who is going to call them out on their transgressions. However, when you sit with 6 unrelated witnesses at a dinner table, the standard for factual accuracy is considerably higher. We are all able to vouch for each other now as friends - and to his detriment. By pointing out the factual errors, you will no doubt see that it is Mr. Ruby who needs a thorough and critical examination - before he writes something that casts a serious (and fictitious) shadow on the reputation of your magazine.
Dear Mr. Bennett,
Chicago Magazine takes accuracy very seriously. We will look into this matter. In the event that we discover an error of fact in our pages, our policy is to print a correction in the next issue.
To which I replied with three more factual errors in his review:
Dear Ms. Fenner,
I appreciate your prompt reply and attention to this matter. I generally avoid such boat-shaking, unless it seems particularly egregious. Three more factual items come to mind: the caviar was not black caviar, but transmontanus caviar, Next Season Tickets, not El Bulli sold out in a matter of seconds (the number 9.6 being rather suspicious), and the Canadians spent a total of $10,000 on food in the previous half year (not month) including their travel, lodging, and incidentals (he maintains a beautiful blog of pictures here: http://taylorfladgate40906.wordpress.com/
). Upon rereading my own email to you, please pardon my editorial transgressions, I noted several typos and areas in need of usage improvement.