Restaurant attacks force foie gras off menu

Deputy News Editor 21 February 2008

One of Cambridge’s leading restaurants has suffered a vicious attack of vandalism by animal rights protesters.

Staff at the Michelin-starred restaurant Midsummer Common were shocked to find the restaurant had been covered in graffiti, door locks glued up, paint stripper used to wreck door frames and windows damaged with glass-etching fluid.

Responsibility for the attack was claimed by the Animal Liberation Front (ALF) who have been targeting the restaurant for months over the sale of Foie Gras.

On a previous occasion a brick was thrown through a window just before the restaurant opened for dinner.

As a result the ‘delicacy’ has now been removed from the menu. Chef director and partner Daniel Clifford described how he bowed to pressure:

“I sat down with my manager and the chefs. We decided that for our own safety and the safety of our customers we would take it off the menu.

“We feel as if we have been pushed into this,” he added.

Clifford also described how he was willing to speak to protesters but they never approached him, preferring to send anonymous letters containing threats.

An anonymous email sent to the Cambridge Evening News from the ALF read:

“We hope this is the only action needed to persuade the restaurant to stop selling foie gras. It’s a simple thing to do. If not, the direct action will continue.”

Foie Gras is produced by force-feeding geese to make their livers swell beyond normal size.

The practice is illegal in Britain, with most restaurants importing the dish from France at great expense.

The campaign’s website had invited the public to join them every Saturday afternoon to protest outside the restaurant during lunch hours against what has been dubbed “torture in a tin”.

The website also includes a reaction from the poet Dr Benjamin Zephaniah:

“Forget the fancy name; put simply it is the enlarged liver of a duck or goose, and it should have no place in a civilised society.

“I call on Midsummer House to stop selling this product immediately.”

Midsummer House estimates the cost of repairing the damage caused by the attacks at £3000.

Jennifer Shaw

Deputy News Editor