You beat me to it. I was going to say the same thing, but not as well. One visit is fine,IMO, so long as you mention the fact in your review. It is too bad, but a lot of roadfood is so-so at best. Having worked for many years in small business myself, I think it is bad karma to post a tough review that could hurt another small bizperson. If I enjoyed my visit, even if it was only once, I’ll let you know. If it was not so hot, I keep my words to myself, and consider the fact that I may have visited on a bad day.
I did say I would pipe in on a discussion already started if I had been to a place. It is just that if there has been no mention then I don’t see a need to introduce it and give a bad restaurant any kind of publicity. I’m interested in recommendations not warnings. There are just way too many restaurants to bother to dwell on the bad ones.
Which brings up another subject. I’m sensitive to photos. Is it just me, but why is it that the majority of the restaurant photos of the day on the home page are not flattering at all?
An excellent topic that Amy & I discuss every time we find some RF potential in an unreviewed place…I agree with much of what’s been said, and again, it depends on the place, how often I can get there, and my first experience. Sometimes we walk into a place and know immediately that we want to review it (but will we? that depends on the food) — it just exudes RF. Others, one bite of the food and we know, "This is awesome and we want RF to know about this place!" Based in CT/MA/ME but having roots in both CA/AZ/NM and NC/SC/GA, we tend to visit unreviewed places 2-3 times, sometimes to get more pics of different items (this comprises most of our reviews). But if we’re traveling, one visit is sometimes enough (e.g. Val’s Burgers in Hayward, CA), especially if there are no RF-reviewed places on that section of the map. We do lots of research before even getting in the car, as we pour through others’ reviews/references and trust some opinions (RF.com) over others (TripAdvisor, Yelp).
Unlike Davydd, I’d be the first to tell anyone where NOT to eat, and I’ll say so in a review, too — a review that’s mostly positive, however. Even my favorite places have off days, but I’ll always say so in a positive way.
And there are yet other places that I really, really want to love — the RF potential is off the charts — but the food is so consistently mediocre that I can’t bring myself to spend the time to review it. I’d definitely talk about those in a trip report, but that’s all. This gray area is one of the reasons I love writing logbooks so much: it’s already been reviewed formally, and I’m just adding my two cents about my visit.
Honestly, our opinion of this issue changes a little with every place we visit! [:)] Chris
When you travel you usually only get one shot at a restaurant. If you post here it may be that one experience. I post a lot but usually only mention the places worth mentioning or respond to a specific place good or bad if it is under discussion. I’ve eaten at a lot of places that I never bother to mention here that are either just OK, so-so or bad, or a national chain that needs no further elaboration. However, I have recorded almost every pork tenderloin sandwich in my photo gallery web site. I kind of let pictures be the "1,000 words".
Restaurant reviews have little to do with saving people from food poisoning. From bland food, perhaps. Food poisoning no.
Back when I was paid for reviewing restaurants and such, I defined my job as finding good experiences for readers. Only if I ran out of good experiences would I have to waste their and my time by relating bad experiences. That never happened in the 12 years I wrote my column.
I read RoadFood because I want to know about the good places, the great places, the happy experiences. Nothing is more boring to me than a bite by bite recap of a disappointing meal.
Are you implying that a person or group must have a total of 45 (0.1%) or more bad meals at a restaurant before they can write a review about how bad the restaurant is? A person (or group) would have to be masochistic (or really stupid) to put themselves through that much misery just to be able to let people know how really awful the meals at that particular restaurant were, and they might very well need to be lucky in addition, so that they didn’t get food poisoning in the process.
Thank goodness there is no such requirement here on Roadfood. If there was the requirement that only good reviews of restaurants could be posted here unless the reviewer had made a career of eating over and over at the bad restaurant, we would never be alerted to places we should avoid for one reason or another (and all chain restaurants would be revered as being the finest food in the country, just because a few people happen to like them)!
Well, talking about percentages brings up a lot of issues. OK, maybe once everyone calls out sick so service is bad, maybe once the cook had a family tragedy and their game is off.
But when I go to a doctor, I don’t want to talk percentages. If he cuts off the wrong foot just this once, I’m not happy. When dealing with food, there are issues of vermin, roaches and food poisoning that are inexcusable. Even once.
Sometimes the place is filthy, or there is a general lack of concern when something is wrong. I’ve had servers fight with me like I’m their cheating wife when I have made polite complaints.
As for online blog reviews, I go twice – if one time there is a problem with service or something minor, I go a third time for a tie-breaker. But I also consider the freak things that happen and no one can control. I’m not going to slam a place because they forgot to put in my french fry order one time. I consider that servers and cooks are people who also have bad days sometimes. That is different than the restaurant as a whole being bad.
Also, if they serve breakfast I often make another trip just for that.
After I have finished my review, then I hit the blogs and forums to see if others share my experience. I try not to beforehand because I don’t want to have preconceived notions. Usually if service is rude or slow, food is cold or improperly handled, there are dozens of similar reports on the boards.
I try to only write "recommendation" reviews. If I don’t like a place I normally leave it to die on the vine.
Some restaurant review math. A restaurant is open 300 days a year. For dinner they average 150 covers. That is 45,000 meals served in a year. A reviewer and three guests dine at the place for the traditional two visits. That is 8 meals out of 45,000 or a .017% sample. That may be enough to give a restaurant a good review, but no where near enough to pan a restaurant with the resultant potential devastation a bad review brings to a restaurant and its staff.
I think there are two different perspectives one can have on restaurants: local and tourist/traveler.
When you ask a local for his suggestion on where to eat, you expect he is going to suggest a place he goes to all the time. So, if someone asks me where to get a good crabcake in Baltimore, I will tell them Faidley’s. I’ve been to Faidley’s a lot of times, and I think that the person asking for my opinion is expecting that my recomendation is not based on the one and only crab cake I had at Faidley’s five years ago.
Now, I’ve only been to New Orleans twice, but if someone in my office ask me where to eat in New Orleans, I’m going to suggest some places I’ve only been to once, like Pascal Manale. I’m offering my opinion as a tourist/traveler, which is based on limited exposure to the restaurant. I’m more or less saying, when I visited New Orleans, I had a really good meal at Pascal. If that person comes back to me after his trip and says he didn’t have a good meal at Pascal, I’m not going to be shocked. After all, I only had one meal there. But, if someone says they had a bad crabcake at Faidley’s, I would think it must be a freak occurence or that person doesn’t really like crabcakes to begin with.
is it fair to review a restaurant only once,just because it’s far away and inconvenient for the reviewer to get there??? I still say one experience isn’t a fair amount to judge a restaurant by….close or far!!!
Point of information: When I spoke about doing reviews, I was referring to newspaper reviews — not reviews here.
I can understand Robearjr’s reasoning. If you are reviewing a local place, it is easy to visit it several times over a couple of weeks to check out the food at peak and off-peak times, during the week and on weekends. If you are on a road trip, unless you are going to eat all your meals at just one restaurant (even if this is in your destination town), it is much more difficult to do multiple reviews at various times and under various conditions. And if you decide to do your review based on visits weeks or months (or years) apart, other variables can enter the equation (change of ownership, change of cooks, etc.) Therefore, you are more likely to write a review based on one visit (especially if you were impressed with the restaurant) if it is not in your home area.
Can you explain that reasoning????
I will give anyplace two trys,The first and the last.
I find that I am – and perhaps this is backwards – more willing to offer my opinion up on a place that I visted once or twice if it is far away from my home. For instance, I’ll comment on a great meal I had at some restaurant in Montreal or Nashville, even if that was the first time I ever ate there. Now, if I were to comment on a place in Baltimore, I would probably reserve my judgement or at least opinion until I have made a second or third trip.
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