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Grunde
03-31-2014, 09:22 AM
Hi.
I'm professional food critic so I know I'm entering the lions den here, but I just had to ask:
What's the stupidest thing you've read in a restaurant review?

The reason I ask is that I've been doing this for five years now and I'm not impressed by the general level of competence.
Just recently we were planning a joint article with another paper. I suggested meeting the other critic over dinner, so I asked him if he liked thai?
"Oh yes, I LOVE thai food! But I hate dishes with coconut in them."

WHAT..!! - Eventually I just made up a bad excuse and resigned from the whole project.

NotSwedishChef
03-31-2014, 09:37 AM
I generally find the level of food knowledge to be poor......the most disturbing is that punctuation, grammar and even to a certain extent; style, all seem to be lost. I'm not a grammar junkie or Shakespeare but people who are paid to write and critique should be able to offer cogent & professional articles.

Grunde
03-31-2014, 09:49 AM
Of course. Unfortunately that particular problem is not isolated to food reviews.

daveb
03-31-2014, 10:04 AM
About a year ago, someone posted a link to a site where chefs reviewed some of the "famous" food critics. Hilarious. I no longer have it at hand but someone with some better google-fu?

Grunde
03-31-2014, 10:33 AM
I'd really like to see that site.

larrybard
03-31-2014, 11:04 AM
About a year ago, someone posted a link to a site where chefs reviewed some of the "famous" food critics. Hilarious. I no longer have it at hand but someone with some better google-fu?

Is this what you had in mind?
http://www.thedailymeal.com/top-chefs-review-and-rate-americas-food-critics-2013

daveb
03-31-2014, 11:15 AM
That would be the one.

Salty dog
04-01-2014, 03:50 AM
I'm lucky, I consider the local professionals good at their jobs. I have issues with the amateurs, Yelp, Trip, et el.

Grunde
04-01-2014, 03:50 PM
Hm.. Surprisingly few horror stories here. Are restaurants really living this peacefully with their antagonists? That gives me hope.

I can tell a story of my own:
A friend and former collegue of me, a real jerk by the way, once insisted that we should give a restaurant a low score because he meant the wine had a cork taint. I disagreed but according to him, it was he one who was the big wine buff of us two, and at parties he used to brag to everybody about how he spent his summers touring french wine castles. Anyway, we had a quarrel, we discussed it with collegues, we had to talk to the editor, and eventually I gave in.
The day after the review was printed, we received an e-mail from the restaurant telling us that particular wine had a screw cap and we had to print a really embarrasing apology the next day.
Unfortunately it didn't affect him at all sine we had gone incognito, but his pride was so hurt he quit a few months after.
Karma always wins in the end.

panda
04-01-2014, 06:59 PM
I'm not much of a diner as I really don't give a crap about service, I only go to places for the food itself because the best meals for me to eat are ones I didn't have to cook myself :D. I hate 'foodies', it's one thing to be passionate about food, it's asinine however when they constantly give out bs comments. I dont bother with reading reviews as I'm pretty sure 99 out of 100 of them are nonsense.

rami_m
04-01-2014, 07:24 PM
Well. On the other hand most of the good places I know I found out via reviews. I particularly like this one. http://www.notquitenigella.com

ThEoRy
04-01-2014, 09:58 PM
http://notalwaysright.com/

JDA_NC
04-01-2014, 11:34 PM
I'm not much of a diner as I really don't give a crap about service, I only go to places for the food itself because the best meals for me to eat are ones I didn't have to cook myself :D. I hate 'foodies', it's one thing to be passionate about food, it's asinine however when they constantly give out bs comments. I dont bother with reading reviews as I'm pretty sure 99 out of 100 of them are nonsense.

I agree with you in a lot of ways. If you're in the kitchen all the time it's a blessing to just have someone else cook for you. And I think if you work in restaurants you tend to be more understanding for mistakes and delays in service. I know I'm not picky like many seem to be. But good or bad service can make or break a meal IMO and is just important as the food on the plate when it comes to a restaurant. That applies across the board from casual counter service to full service during a fine dining experience.

And as far as reviews... I worked at this small, no reservations, hole in the wall restaurant when I was living in Southern Cali. The owner was extremely involved, working the dining room almost every night, making an effort to go around to tables and being personable. He was passionate about his restaurant - he had worked a long time in the industry to open his own place - and it was cool to see that. Very knowledgeable about wine and beer, could jump back in the kitchen if needed (although the Chef was a bad mofo so that never had to happen)... the best owner I've ever worked for.

He also was obsessed with Yelp. A lot of folks like to dump on Yelp - many reviews are ill informed and overly critical, and that can hurt when you put so much energy into this thing. But it had a very, very visible effect on business. The restaurant was and is packed constantly. And it doesn't look like much from the outside and is out of the way in a industrial type area of the town. Yelp is a lot more popular in California than it is here in NC but it opened my eyes to the power of online reviews. I think it's important to pay attention to them, even as a cook, not just because it's one way to get feedback on what you're cooking, but they have a real effect on filling seats. Not everyone reads a critic's reviews in the local paper or what not, but chances are, if you're in a new or unfamiliar area, you're going to look at Yelp, Opentable or Trip Adviser and see what's in the area. It's easy to brush them aside because of spiteful and ill-informed reviews, but in this digital, social-media filled age, they are crucial IMO - especially for young & out of the way restaurants.

eshua
04-01-2014, 11:57 PM
When you can't keep your yelp score at 5/5, just remember Yelp rates itself as 2.5/5 stars.

http://www.yelp.com/biz/yelp-san-francisco

Gravy Power
04-06-2014, 10:59 PM
Where I live, the food critic is vegetarian when she's not reviewing restaurants. However she once went on a 20-plus tweet rampage about how she disliked avacados. Also, I had a college short-stories writing class with her, and she is still terrible at constucting something inviting with words.

How she inherited her job? I have no idea… Would I love to take it for the money and free meals? Yes for the latter, but having worked highly scrutinized hard-core kitchens, hell no.