After food critic Robert Sietsema wrote a scathing review of the restaurant Foxface Natural for Eater New York, the restaurant slammed the publication for greenlighting the “hit piece.”
Foxface Natural is reportedly a post-coronavirus project from owners Kushnir and Sivan Lahat, who were behind the original Foxface, another restaurant known for serving camel and elk meat sandwiches, and a one-star review from the New York Times. The restaurant originally closed during the pandemic and was set to make its return, but the owners decided to make a return but sans its sandwich focus.
Sietsema set out to see what the hype about Foxface Natural was all about but found himself unimpressed by the pricing and preparation of its Hawaiian prawns. In the review, Sietsema wrote: “Sure, they’re from Hawaii, but last I checked, most shrimp or prawns (and seafood for that matter) are shipped from far-flung locales, and they’re not that expensive, not for this size, and not for the privilege of eating the heads as a separate dish.”
The food critic added that while the restaurant excelled in innovation – in terms of its ingredients, recipes, and presentation – it faltered when it came to including locally sourced ingredients. After that first dish, Sietsema wrote that the second “dish didn’t quite qualify as food.”
He dubbed the successive dishes as an “experiment in metafood,” explaining that while the restaurant's “absurdly sourced ingredients are made into almost-edible dishes,” they seemed to primarily be crafted to be Instagrammable.
Foxface Natural’s Instagram account hit back at Sietsema and Eater, alleging that the review was the result of the owners not paying a PR agency to promote their restaurant. They wrote in an Instagram caption: “Do you know what happens when you don’t pay a PR agency to feed garbage publications your content? They send @rsietsema whose refined palate is usually satisfied by Boar’s Head sandwiches to write a hit piece.”
They continued to defend themselves, “Well this little hype machine is going to keep selling wild sustainability caught prawns at the highest ingredient cost of any casual restaurant in town and will continue not to give @eater_ny @eater the time of day. At least no fact checkers were hurt in the editing of this wildly inaccurate piece.”
In the comment section of the post, the majority stood by Foxface Natural, including Frank Prinsinzano – the owner of New York City Italian hotspots Supper, Lil’ Frankie’s, and Frank Restaurant in the East Village, as well as pizzeria Daddies in the West Village – who wrote beneath the post, “Pay ZERO attention.”
“I guess they just don’t value fresh, seasonal, and sustainable seafood,” someone added, while another said: “Good ingredients are expensive. This is not a restaurant that takes its ingredient quality lightly.”
But some took issue with the fact that the restaurant felt the need to respond to Sietsema’s review at all.
“Everyone has the right to the opinions,” one user commented. “But this response back from a restaurant is just petty. You’re really going to stoop that low and insult someone just because they didn’t give a glowing review?”
Another added, “Why bother responding? Your diners are intelligent enough to make their dining decisions without eater.com, a notorious site for reprints of PR releases.”