No one wants his restaurant getting trashed by the New York Times. But Altamarea Group CEO Ahmass Fakahany wasn't about to hide when his new French eatery Vaucluse received a mediocre review by critic Pete Wells last week. "A critic could run out of new ways to express disappointment in Altamarea Group restaurants if Altamarea didn't keep coming up with new ways to disappoint," is how Wells started off his critique of the Upper East Side restaurant, anchored by celeb chef Michael White. The disses didn't let up there. "It's far from a bad restaurant," Wells wrote, bestowing a one-star rating. "It's just not, as my teachers used to say, using its full potential." Wells issued his share of disparagement—a la "chocolate mousse that has been repeatedly violated by bits of baked cocoa meringue"—but adjectives such as "superb" and "virtually perfect" also find their way in.
No matter, as none of it sat well with Fakahany, who prides himself on establishments that Business Insider points out are frequented by the likes of Michael Bloomberg and David Geffen. "The New York Times Dining review section is at its lowest point, and the subject of much industry chatter in this regard. Congratulations. You have managed to do a fantastic job of getting it there," Fakahany writes. He chastises Wells for his "embarrassing lack of knowledge," as well as "an absence of a natural food interest." Then there's Wells' ranking among esteemed food reviewers: "You seem so desperately anxious to be relevant ... Is it because you want to develop a personal profile knowing you will never be a Craig Claiborne, Mimi Sheraton, Ruth Reichl, Frank Bruni, or a Florence Fabricant?" Yikes. (Meanwhile, restaurant reservations might be on the way out.)