Chef Innocent Is Guilty (of False Advertising Online)

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Say you and your mate decide to have a romantic dinner in Coral Gables. The Hotel St. Michel comes to mind, because the room is so quiet and quaint, but as your last visit was quite some time ago, you check their website to investigate. The home page trumpets a BRAND NEW MENU!, so you click it on: Herb crusted Chilean filet of salmon with white asparagus and lemon-lime sauce ($22). Veal paillard with figs, apples, fried polenta and port wine reduction ($30). Pecan crusted, chipotle marinated lamb chops with roasted corn, portobello mushrooms, and röesti potatoes ($32). A little overwrought perhaps, but surely alluring enough to fit the bill.

Imagine your surprise when, upon arriving at the regrettably named Chef Innocent at St. Michel, you discover that it is a Continental-style steak and seafood restaurant. Crisp Long Island duckling. Filet Oscar. Lobster Thermidor. At substantially higher prices than before. Maybe all is executed with aplomb, or maybe not. But it clearly doesn’t match what is promised on the Hotel’s website. Such seemingly trivial oversights can, and do, ruin people's evenings. What if after parking the car and settling into your dining room seats, you then discover a Continental menu -- a cuisine you do not particularly enjo? Your options are to dine here anyway, or get up and change venues. What an inconvenience. What a drag. Trust me, I speak from experience.

For the record, the hostess and manager of Chef Innocent had no idea that their website was incorrect. In fact, they seemed a bit incredulous, asking me when the last time was that I checked it. “Yesterday,” I said. The manager informed me that the menu had changed months ago, and handed me a business card with a website. It has the updated menu, but the Hotel St. Michel site still does not. --Lee Klein

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