Over the summer, restaurant and TV critic and general wit AA Gill took a swipe at drama critics in a major feature in the Sunday Times, in which he asserted that “no aspect of the culture is as badly served by its critics as the theatre is” (See The Goss, 25 Jun 2007). The Daily Telegraph’s Charles Spencer, who’s also chair of the drama section of the Critics’ Circle, has answered back by taking a bite at Gill and his foodie colleagues in an article for British Journalism Review, reprinted this week in the Guardian’s weekly Media supplement.

According to Spencer, restaurant reviewers are “by and large … a bone-idle bunch” who normally “confine themselves to just one establishment” per week. “This far from Stakhnovite approach to the task in hand increases my puritanical suspicion that restaurant writing isn’t an entirely serious form of journalism but just a jammy way of getting paid to eat posh grub free.”

Spencer goes on to rate the various contenders, with the Observer’s Jay Rayner topping his poll on a score of nine out of ten and the Sunday Times’ “vain and preposterous” Michael Winner coming bottom on two out of ten. Gill himself receives a reasonable six out of ten. “I’d love to give Gill a good kicking, since he has offended me and my tribe,” admits Spencer. “But damn it, he’s both readable and enjoyably infuriating in his reviews.”

Nevertheless, the self-confessed “disgracefully scruffy” Telegraph man doesn’t mind taking a pop at the famously fashionable Gill’s wardrobe: “I bet he has one of those camelhair overcoats with a black velvet collar too, that infallible sign of a bounder and a cad.”