For a brief shining moment in November, the best restaurant in London, as rated by TripAdvisor, featured TV dinners, live chickens, and a DJ playing kitchen noises in lieu of an actual kitchen.
A writer has told BBC 5 live how he tricked TripAdvisor into making his shed the number one restaurant in London.
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Writing for Vice, Butler explains how after buying a burner phone and building a website for his fake restaurant, The Shed At Dulwich, he staged some mouth-watering food photos - except the plates were actually concocted with shaving cream, discs of bleach, hot chocolate tablets, and paint. Those reviews and the mystery surrounding The Shed were enough to beat out the more than 18,000 real London restaurants on TripAdvisor. "As there is no incentive for anyone in the real world to create a fake restaurant it is not a problem we experience with our regular community - therefore this "test" is not a real world example". "A restaurant that doesn't exist is now the highest ranked in one of the world's biggest cities, on perhaps the internet's most trusted reviews site", Butler marvels.
Over the next few months, the fake gourmet spot managed to climb the rankings, thanks to Mr Butler and his friends who kept leaving positive reviews. But The Shed's success came with an unforeseen side effect: actual reservation requests, hundreds of them.
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