A prominent Instagram influencer has hit out at a high-end Italian restaurant for its lack of vegan options and poor customer service.
Nicole Warne broke the usual format of her popular Gary Pepper Girl social media account with a rare negative post following her unpleasant dining experience in Italy.
The 29-year old Australian visited Grotta Palazzese with friends, a venue that is famous for its location inside a 300-year old seaside cave.
Although it made for great photos, the evening was less than memorable and Warne said she felt “conflicted” in posting the lengthy caption to her 1.7 million followers.
“I am aware there are far worse things happening in the world but I am also aware that many of you look to my account as a travel guide and may book places as a result,” she wrote.
“I don’t like to be part of any form of negativity but I felt compelled to share my experience after so many of you asked where this place was because you wanted to visit.
“For me, this place was the worst dining experience I have ever had.”
Booking her table months in advance, Warne said due to her vegan diet and “severe gluten, cashew and coconut intolerances” she’s used to not being catered to at a venue.
“But as this was a ‘fine dining experience’ and they asked for my food requirements well in advance, I was frustrated to hear I would still need to pay $180 euros for the set menu, much of which I could not eat.
“I ended up eating a tiny bowl of beans, two slices of vegetables and was offered a fruit plate as dessert, which I did not eat.
“The customer service was terrible and I was further disappointed when the staff and the chef would not acknowledge the situation.”
She added that her friend – who had the normal set menu – found it “underwhelming” as well, even though she could eat everything on it.
Warne concluded her post with a recommendation to eat cheap pasta at any local restaurant instead, a suggestion that was endorsed by Zoe Foster-Blake who commented: “Our best meal in Polignano mare was a €4 gelato brioche”.
While many praised the social media star’s honesty, others were less than positive including television presenter Catriona Rowntree.
“So why bother posting and being negative?” she wrote.
“Just so you can show the shot? What’s the point?”
Another user added: “You literally have an intolerance to every kind of Italian food ingredient, I don’t think this is a fair review.”