Published 17 February 1998 Published in The Telegraph by Michael Fleet
Michael Winner: had written a bad review
Michael Winner, the film director and restaurant critic, his been banned from one of London's most famous restaurants, Le Gavroche, after allegedly reducing its receptionist to tears when she told him there was no table for him.
Michel Roux, the son of Albert Roux, the restaurant's owner, has accused Mr Winner of being full of self-importance.
But yesterday Mr Winner denied being rude to the receptionist and claimed he had been banned because the Roux family could not accept that he bad written a bad review about the Waterside Inn, the Roux restaurant in Bray, Berks.
He never wanted to eat again at Le Gavroche or the Waterside, but was angry at the reasons given by M Roux for the ban.
Michel Roux wrote in a newspaper article that Pauline Hobbs, the receptionist, had told Mr Winner the restaurant was full.
"The Winner rant was terrible," M Roux wrote in Sunday Business. "He said, 'Do you know who I am? I'm dining with Joan Collins and Jane Asher', so you'd better find a place'."
He claimed that Mr Winner told Miss Hobbs she would not have a job once her boss found out he had been refused. "All in language riper than a pheasant hung for a month."
Le Gavroche: now a closed door to critic
Mr Winner sent a solicitor's letter to Sunday Business, claiming that the alleged lambasting never happened.
He said that he had been written about for 42 years. "In all that time this is the most inaccurate, invented and ludicrous piece that has ever been written about me."
He denied saying he was with Miss Asher and Miss Collins and was taking the scriptwriters Laurence Marks and Maurice Gran to dinner. "They wanted to go to Le Gavroche. I Said I could not stand the place but it was what they wanted.
"I rang up but did not speak to this woman. A gentleman said M Roux would not like to serve me because I had been rude about his father in a review.
"I did not even know Jane Asher at the time so cannot have mentioned her name. This has just been dressed up because M Roux wishes to be malicious."
Miss Hobbs insisted yesterday that the conversation had taken place and that she had been reduced to tears. "I will never forget that day. He was very aggressive and said, 'Don't you know who I am?'
"I can remember everything he said. I am a country girl from Dorset and it was a bit of a shock," said Miss Hobbs, 27.
Silvano Giraldin, the restaurant manager, confirmed that Mr Winner was banned. "We have a big note here saying he mjust not be admitted."
In his column, M Roux said that Mr Winner had given a "typical performance" at the Waterside, insisting on changing tables and being difficult.
Mr Winner again disagreed with the chef's account. He said his table had been the best but he had hated the meal. "This ban is obviously because of that bad review," he said.
He denied ever being rude to staff and that if his table at one of his 20 favourite restaurants was not available he would simply say, "OK, see you next time."
Mr Winner said he was pleased he could not go to Le Gavroche. "A proper restaurant accepts you get some good reviews and some bad," he added.
Mr Roux denied in his column that the ban was because of a bad review. "We have never found cause to ban a journalist or critic on the rare occasions we have been slated," he said.
Michel Roux claimed that Winner's language was 'riper than a pheasant hung for a month' (Christine Boyd)