In a small but potentially serious conflagration that has quickly become the butt of many online jokes in the food world, Michelin New York tweeted this on Wednesday: "What an incredible dinner at Le Bernardin last night. The best in years." The problem is that Le Bernardin, The New York Times four-star seafood palace headed by chef Eric Ripert, has been closed for renovations since Aug. 1. If you clicked through to the Twitter link, you'd see that the tweet has been erased since it went up, according to Grub Street, at about 3 p.m.
At about 4 p.m., a new tweet appeared on @MichelinGuideNY: "What an incredible dinner at Le Bernardin recently. The best in years." But that just led to more online snark as the New York food twitterverse (which is active) began crowing. "You've shown your hand, Doc Brown! Good thing for you the Libyans are distracted," tweeted Restaurant Business editor Amanda Westbrooks, in response. "Changing our story now?" tweeted Bloomberg critic Ryan Sutton. "Brilliant meal at 150 Wooster last night. Saw Gael Greene across the room #PredictingMichelinGuideNYTweets" tweeted New York Times critic Sam Sifton, referring to a shuttered restaurant and a retired critic.
The gaffe could be considered minor -- mixing up "last night" with "recently" isn't that far-fetched if you're, say, telling a story at a bar. But it holds some potentially serious consequences for Michelin. The French publication is arguably the world's arbiter of taste when it comes to fine dining, and through its lengthy history has had very few scandals. But it's not immune to them, and the last decade has seen two. In 2005, Michelin pulled its Belgium guide from shelves because it included a review of a restaurant that was not yet open. The previous year, author Pascal Remy rocked the food world when he published a tell-all book as a former Michelin inspector, alleging that the guide had played favorites.
Le Bernardin has received a top-tier three-star rating from the guide for years, so it's unsurprising that an inspector would enjoy herself there. But in the high-stakes game of high-end food reviewing, where credibility is everything, the guide can't afford too many of these little slip-ups. Not unless it wants a downgrade of its own. At least whoever runs the Twitter stream is being a good sport. After the snark flew over the corrected tweet about Le Bernardin, the guide wrote: "lmao at all the replies... the best one will get a free dinner on us at Lutece," referring to a famous, and now closed, Manhattan French restaurant.