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Thursday, June 30, 2005

Restaurant Lehtovaara in the press

It is really great that Finland has its first blog based general interest case. It will contribute to the freedom of speech fight going on regarding blogs.

Ravintola Lehtovaara, is an old restaurant institution in Helsinki which has sued Herkko Hietanen for his post on an experience he had there some time ago. This story is getting lots of attention on the net at the moment.

I blog about many restaurants and several of them rank high in Google because of me, for example Maxill and Raku-Ya both first. My hobby is to write about food and restaurants I experience, so this case is thus very close to my hearth.

I have often though about writing a negative piece on something where things have gone wrong or where the experience has not been up to standard. For some reason I have not trashed any restaurant in any serious way. I guess I have felt that I command too much power in certain sense. On the other hand restaurants really ruin people's feelings. I am a bit torn.

It is out of pure coincidence that Lehotvaara became the restaurant to have this hand granade explode. What makes it amuzing is that I have visited the same restaurant several times, and I have two very memories of things going wrong in this place. The first time was probably 15-20 years ago. I was there with my parents and had a pepper steak, which came with potatoe croquettes, at that time I just learnt what they were as some local company started to produce ready made frozen ones. What I realised when I got the my pepper steak was that they were served with these ready made ones. I felt cheated. One gets that at a burger joint, but not at a nice fancy restaurant, and 15-20 years ago it was even more fancy than now. The other sour experience was maybe 10 years ago, when I wanted a light desert and I asked that if they had some sherbet, it was not on the menu. But they promised to see what they could do. When it came out they served a ball of cruched ice  flavoured with orange juice and called it sherbet. The experience was terrible. I felt cheated, but I had ordered something out of the menu, they delivered. It felt like, 'you demanding bastard, I'll teach you a lesson about not ordering outside the menu'. For some amazing reason these two experience have stayed in my memory for such a long time, 10 versus 20 years.

With that told, my sympaties are with Herkko in this case, but this is after all not really about who was right or wrong, but about freedom of speech. Here I am of the opinion that one should have freedom of speech, it is up to the reader to judge if one wants to trust the source or not.
In my restaurant reviews I speak for myself, and if you do not agree with my reviews, make comments, challenge or just ignore me.

Good luck Herkko, you are my man!

11:23 AM in Restaurants | Permalink

Comments

It's been disappointing to see how many people are actually arguing whether or not Lehtovaara is a good restaurant or mr. Hietanen might have been a so called difficult customer too, for example in the discussion thread (Finnish language, sorry) of the largest Finnish newspaper Helsingin Sanomat. In my opinion those subjective issues aren't relevant at all in this case.

I agree with most bloggers and journalists that freedom of speech is what's interesting and relevant here, and maybe also how to handle your media relations and publicity. I guess mr. Molander soon understands why there are PR specialists. This time pure common sense would have been enough.

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With that told, my sympaties are with Herkko in this case, but this is after all not really about who was right or wrong, but about freedom of speech. Here I am of the opinion that one should have freedom of speech, it is up to the reader to judge if one wants to trust the source or not.
In my restaurant reviews I speak for myself, and if you do not agree with my reviews, make comments, challenge or just ignore me.

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