If you were off Twitter over the weekend, you may have missed the latest storm created by the Times restaurant critic Giles Coren. So what has Giles done this time you may be wondering. Has he managed to insult another city's restaurants as he did with New York earlier this year? Maybe he's gone into battle with someone on the subs desk again.
No, this time Coren's crime was to publish a list of his 50 favourite restaurants, 35 of which happened to be in London.
Given the amount of times national newspaper restaurant reviewers venture out of the capital, on the face of it this seemed like a pretty fair split. But Times readers were having none of it - we've picked out a few choice comments below as an illustration.
"Thanks for suggesting El Mono.Hardly a destination restaurant for the 99.9% who don’t live in Kentish Town."
"Ok that's where you live, that's where you eat, but the vast majority of people in the UK do not live in London. Maybe you're missing some other great places."
"Just one within 50 miles of Birmingham would have been nice. After all we have got 4 michelin starred restaurants - more than any other city outside London."
"Shocking....no 1 restaurant is a few streets away. Says it all about this article which should have been published in the Evening Standard and not a 'national' newspaper."
As you might expect, Giles came back in fighting fashion with an "apology" which is frankly so brilliant, we've published it in full here.
It has been brought to my attention that there is a geographical bias in this selection of my favourite restaurants. Now, it ought to be enough for me merely to point out that these are my favourites, not the best, and I can choose whichever restaurants I blooming well like. But I shall make my apology anyway. Yes, it is true that the most recent statistics suggest that more than 80 per cent of all new restaurants that open in the UK open in London, and, yes, it is reported that 92% of the total national restaurant spend is in the capital. So, yes, by rights there should be no more than six or seven restaurants from outside London on my list, whereas there are in fact 15. Twice as many as there ought to be. Mea Culpa. I am truly sorry. My list is ludicrously skewed away from London and towards the provinces, giving the non-London restaurant scene fully twice the coverage it merits on the basis of performance, at the expense of a thriving capital that has been woefully underrepresented with only 35 of the 50 places, a meagre 70%. It is not in my nature to apologise for this sort of thing, but I do, unreservedly, to the restaurants and the customers of the great city of London, for so heinously depriving them of the portion of my very important list that they deserved. In future, I will make sure that such lists more adequately reflects the national restaurant picture, and slash down the number of provincial establishments I feature.
Of course Giles isn't the only critic on a national paper to feel this way. The Guardian's Marina O'Loughlin published a list of her restaurant pet peeves this summer which included 77%* of restaurants outside major cities (*Statistics do not stand up to scientific scrutiny.) And whilst reviewing Hawksmoor Air Street last year, The Observer's Jay Rayner pitched in on the subject: " Like everyone who does my job, I am regularly criticised for not getting out of London enough; I run at about 45% outside and often find good things. But the fact is that nowhere else in Britain could support a restaurant of this quality. I suppose I could lie about that, to protect regional pride, but really, what's the point?"Read Giles's list and the full range of comments in reaction to it here.