Celebrity chef slams ‘rude’ customer who complained about £115 tasting menu

Great British Menu and Saturday Kitchen star Aktar Islam was furious after a TripAdviser review slammed his Indian restaurant Opheem for having a lack of alternatives on the tasting menu

Aktar Islam was furious when the diner took to TripAdvisor to slam his Indian restaurant Opheem
Aktar Islam was furious when the diner took to TripAdvisor to slam his Indian restaurant Opheem

A celebrity chef has criticized a reviewer who attacked his restaurant for being “customer-unfriendly” – and has barred her from coming back.

Great British Menu and Saturday Kitchen star Aktar Islam was furious when the diner took to TripAdvisor to slam his Indian restaurant Opheem in Birmingham.

The diner, who did not reveal her name, claimed she was only offered chickpeas as a substitute for meat in a beef dish on the venue’s £115 tasting menu.

As well as complaining about the lack of alternatives on offer, the review, penned in November last year, also said staff refused to refund a deposit after she tried to cancel, reports Birmingham Live.

She said: “At booking, we made clear we had dietary restriction, however luckily on the day we happened to call them, and we were told they can’t cater for Main Course “no beef” and will substitute it with chickpeas. We could not believe it.”

Aktar Islam’s restaurant Opheem on Summer Row, Birmingham


Birmingham Mail)

Aktar then took to TripAdviser himself to hit back, saying: “We will always try our best, but we cannot pull rabbits out of a hat…. or in this case lamb or chicken.”

Speaking to his local newspaper, he said: “My restaurant is not an episode of Ready Steady Cook. My team can’t just knock something up. In most fine dining restaurants, we can’t just rustle up whatever someone wants.

“On this occasion, the reviewer did tell us she could not eat beef on the booking – and we did our best to accommodate with an alternative that we already serve.

The reviewer criticized the restaurant on TripAdvisor

“It is incorrect to say we said we’d give her chickpeas instead as we don’t serve chickpeas.

“My manager offered a dish from our vegetarian menu – a Chettinad dish with aubergine. The lady was sadly insistent that we should have ‘better’ alternatives/menu options like chicken or lamb.

“My team had the equivalent of a couple of hours of phone time on the days previously speaking to this diner – they all had tried to explain our menu and why we don’t offer a huge variety.

Aktar Islam has appeared on TV shows like Great British Menu


BBC/Optomen Television Ltd/Ashleigh Brown)

“We cannot offer a bespoke menu to cater for a diner’s needs. No restaurant can do that. We focus on what we can actually offer at that time.

“Fine dining restaurants have carefully curated and created set tasting menus. We do try to cater to dietary needs as much as possible by offering the best alternative we can.

“On the night I even ran to my other restaurant Pulperia in Brindleyplace, to get some monkfish and put together an alternative dish – but the diner still wasn’t satisfied.”

Opheem opened in 2018


Birmingham Mail)

Aktar opened his restaurant Opheem in 2018, and it won a Michelin star a year later.

Inspectors hailed his “progressive Indian cooking” and how his food blends “traditional techniques with a modern outlook”.

He added: “The diner also said we are very expensive and as we said in our response this again is incorrect if compared to another Michelin starred restaurants in the city,

“And there are restaurants in Birmingham that do not have a Michelin star but charge a lot more than Opheem for their tasting menus.

“Also, what I said in the response is something she forgot to mention in her criticism – that she took to verbally abusing me questioning my credentials for cooking Indian food. She had a problem with me not being Indian.

“I found this to be unbelievably rude. She was close to getting thrown out but thought I wouldn’t embarrass her in front of her family.

“The stupidity and ignorance some people have is shocking. Although I didn’t chuck her out she will not be welcomed into my restaurant again.”

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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