VENETIAN SCAM

Visitors to Venice have been advised not to trust some of its restaurateurs after a group of three British tourists were charged £154 each for a lunch that included expensive dishes that they did not order.

Reportedly these extras, charged at the Trattoria Cassonova off St Mark’s Square, included a plate of 20 oysters for £96 and a mixed fried fish dish, including lobster, for £261.50. Sadly university lecturer Luke Tang, who was treating his elderly parents did not send the unordered items back, even after he had got no response from the waiters to a request for the price.

Mr Tang paid the bill and wrote afterwards to Venice mayor Luigi Brugnaro explaining that he felt “blackmailed” by the restaurant, and to warn others to stay away. Brugnaro’s response, to call the tourists “cheapskates” on Venetian television and berating them for not leaving a tip, can only lead to the conclusion that eating in Venice is not a good idea. This is a pity as in the writer’s experience there are some culinary bargains to be had there, though you probably need to avoid the tourist traps around the St Mark’s Square area, and taking any advice from the mayor.

Our best advice? The unordered dishes scam is alive and well in many other places, with a large number of restaurants in the Ile Sacre eating area of Brussels coming top of the Euro rip-off list. However in London, at a newly opened Chinese eaterie in Gerrard Street, the writer was brought an unordered and expensive duck dish, on the basis that the waiter “just thought you would like it” We sent it straight back untouched. Go and do likewise, and let us know if, and where, it happens to you.

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