The owner of Kobe Club, Jeffrey Chodorow, may have spent more than $80,000 for a full-page advertisement in the New York Times that he used to defend his new steakhouse against what he called a personal attack by an unqualified food critic in a review in that paper earlier this month.
Mr. Chodorow attacked the Times reviewer, Frank Bruni, in his open letter yesterday, writing that the newspaper has been lacking a "real food critic" since Ruth Reichl left for Gourmet magazine. He wrote that he was the victim of a personal attack.
While Mr. Chodorow's reaction to the zero-star review was unusually aggressive, Mr. Bruni told The New York Sun that the bold response would not affect future reviews of Mr. Chodorow's ventures.
"I completely understand his being disappointed in the Kobe Club review, but all those things I've written are completely honest, if inevitably subjective," Mr. Bruni said. "None of them had any personal grudge. The next time he opens a restaurant that seems to be the kind that warrants a look and a review, it will get the same open-minded reaction that any new place gets."
Mr. Chodorow plans to open a restaurant named Wild Salmon in April.
Mr. Bruni wrote in his review of Kobe Club that the menu presented "too many insipid or insulting dishes at prices that draw blood from anyone without a trust fund or an expense account." In his advertisement, Mr. Chodorow claimed that other reviews of Kobe Club have been "overwhelmingly positive."
Mr. Chodorow, who according to his spokeswoman was on an airplane yesterday and not available for comment, gained small-screen celebrity status a few years ago when he starred in an NBC reality show, "The Restaurant," which documented the opening of Rocco's on 22nd Street. That restaurant, financed by Mr. Chodorow, closed in 2004. Mr. Chodorow owns 22 other restaurants across the country.
The cost of a full-page advertisement in the New York Times Dining In/Dining Out section is $83,916, according to the company's advertising department.