London’s most popular fresh pasta restaurant — Padella, in London Bridge — last night sparked an outcry from its vegetarian followers on Instagram after the account posted an image of a dead grouse — one in which the bird’s head is still connected to its body.
The image, of perhaps the most prized, if controversial, game bird was accompanied by the caption “Grouse soon to be ragu.” Placed on a red chopping board, with a little visible blood, striking it most certainly is. One to demonstrate the kitchen’s commitment to cooking everything from scratch, little else. The image was subjected to Instagram’s recently introduced protective sheath, which obscures an image with the message: “Sensitive Content. This photo contains sensitive content which some people may find offensive or disturbing.”
Whether or not that dramatic warning made subsequent reactions worse (halalfoodguy said “couldn’t resist. The warning made it more interesting”), it drew consternation from the restaurant’s vegetarian followers — what many pointed out was a perceived betrayal of its reputation as a place with lots of vegetarian and vegan options on the menu.
User meachagramm asked: “Seriously?! My partner is a huge fan of Padella and we visit regularly. She’s a vegetarian and she’s appalled that a restaurant with so many veggie options thinks it’s ok to post this. As a meat eater, I strongly believe we should face to reality of what we eat, but for those who don’t, companies like yours should be sensitive to other people’s preferences. Your social media team should be aware of that and if they aren’t, they really should review what they’re doing and why. Your lack of sensitivity has marginalised your vegetarian and pescatarian customers. We won’t be visiting Padella again.”
While emlouisesqueeze_ said: “Surely there’s a more original/intelligent/sophisticated way of creating a buzz about your restaurant without going for the shock factor and offending half your followers/customers in the process?! Disappointed @padella_pasta!”
Others deemed it a “gratuitous” attempt at shock to garner publicity: “I love your food but this photo is just appalling, I’m sure even ardent carnivores don’t want to think of a dead bird when they eat your ragu. Gratuitous and weird,” dancoen said.
Some wished they’d heeded Instagram’s warning. missfoodie88 said: “I’m so put off eating this dish now. Why oh why did I ignore the ‘sensitive content’ warning.”
It surprised a number of other followers who stated the obvious: that Padella is not a vegetarian restaurant. Indeed, together with its famous pici cacio e pepe dish, it is perhaps best known for a pappardelle dish, which is served with 48-hour braised beef shin. Reasonable followers also pointed out that it demonstrated the importance of provenance and traceability.
congiu94 said: “Showing consumers where real food comes from. Need more people to do this! ”
jez__k said: “Oh dear, this has upset quite a few people. But I think we all need to be less squeamish about where our food comes from.
Visceral? Yes. Offensive? No.”
Others only cared about the finished product: samphireandsalsify said, “Gonna be delicious no doubt.”
And then some just had a laugh.
“Who do people write to if they see a dead bird in the road and are offended by it?” asked sifrewin11.
While tim230493 said, “Sorry to disappoint you all, but Grouse do not grow on trees.”
Despite the assertion by dafandrews that the restaurant would face a “backlash”, Padella will not expect the daily queue for its restaurant to be any shorter this evening.