I agree with what some of the other posters have said – that many times, reviewers are afraid of getting sued or afraid of alienating a potential advertiser, so they write nothing but positive things about a particular restaurant. I think that this is particularly true with small newspapers in small markets, less so in major cities. I have read a number of restaurant reviews in papers in towns like Martinsburg, WV, Frederick and Hagerstown, MD and Roanoke, VA, and I can’t ever remember reading a negative review. I have read plenty of criticism in media outlets in larger markets like Washington, DC, New York and San Francisco. As for reviewers not reviewing inexpensive restaurants, this is not something that I’ve noticed in the DC area. The reviewers in the Washington Post and Washingtonian magazine get around to less expensive places, too.
Allison Arnett who is the food writer for the Boston Globe is a tough bit^&. She shoots square from the hip, BUT she does have her favorite chefs and they all get ***1/2 (apparently NOBODY ever gets ****). Those that get ***1/2 are her friends….Barbara Lynch, Lydia, Gordon, Jasper et al. Since I was not in the inner sanctum of the Globe food writers, I alas, got only ***. So yes, restaurant reviewers do have the potential to be biased……especially when they’re reviewing one of their friend’s restaurants.
Sorry, my finger slipped, meant to reply to seafarer john. You picked up on what I was trying to convey. Thanks for making it clearer. Chezkatie, I do know how to read the reviews. I just find that many times, they are way off base of what you really get at the restaurant they critique.
I too, love to read restaurant reviews, from all over the country and the world as well as locally.
We have a good reviewer, John Lehndorff, from the Rocky Mountain News. I grew up reading him when he was with the Boulder Daily Camera, for probably twenty plus years now. He seems to be very fair, I don’t believe he plays favorites at all. He has a good sense of humor as well as adventure. I just plain enjoy reading hiw reviews.
I wish more places could take advantage of photos. That’s one of the things I love on here, as well as the forums on EGullet.
(Hope I don’t get in trouble for mentioning another forum.[8)])
I love to read restaurant reviews and wish our local papers here had more of them. I enjoy reading a review of a place I have been to as well as the reviews of places I’ve not been to, and in a lot of cases, did not know a particular place existed.
I think that hugely depends on where you read about it. At least it certainly does in San Francisco. The mainline reviewers in the Chronicle and Examiner tend to review more expensive places serving "California cuisine" and expense account dining, though not exclusively, and I’ve eaten at some places they liked and liked them too. But here, anyway, there’s an active alternative press. The Bay Guardian, especially, has long run a column called "Cheap Eats" that reviews very roadfood sort of places and I frequently discover something new that way: http://www.sfbg.com/39/34/x_cheap_eats.html
There are some prejudices at work in the reviewing business, and there is some hanky-panky in the business.
1. Some reviewers have a prejudice toward certain cusines.
2. Some reviewers are just plain ignorant of anything outside their previous experience and have no interest in learning anything new.
3. Some reviewers judge food by its price and the ambience of the restaurant. i.e flowers on the table, carpets on the floor, crystal stemware, etc= great food.
4. Some newspapers only review restaurants that advertise in their paper – and they never never want to upset an advertiser.
5. Some restaurant owners have friends in high places or atended the right school, etc. – this seems to be a problem with the NYTimes.
6. Some papers are afraid of being sued if they publish an unfavorable review.
However, We’ve found our local papers to be pretty good in their reviews of local restaurants – maybe a bit easy on them , and maybe a bit leaning toward the more expensive places, and maybe ignoring our roadfood type places, but, in general, pretty accurate and fair for the limited amount of effort and money they are willing and able to spend on the copy.
To me Reviews are a personal opinion… They may well explain the ambiance and setting, and maybe rate their personal food tastes, but not mine! For the most part, reviews are one persons idea of what it should or shouldnt be… Fine! Nice when they report the price structure, but then again it normally goes towards their tastes and not the entire menu…
Every restaurant review that I have read has a rating system that tells you what the food, the service, and the prices are. So I do not understand your complaint. If you can read, it is easy to pick out a restaurant that you want to try. Just recently, a review here told about a pit beef restaurant with low prices, top quality food and no ambiance, All one has to do is read all the reviews and judge what they think what fits in with what there are looking for in the way of dining.[8D]
Don’t know if this has ever been discussed before, but here goes. I find that over 90 per cent of the time when you go to a restaurant that you read about in a newspaper review, it turns out to be: 1-extremely expensive, 2-lousy service or 3-not very good food. Don’t know where these reviewers eat, but it couldn’t be in the place I try. Plus, even though I like Asian food, when we lived in Sacramento and now in Albuquerque, most of the reviews are on oriental restaurants. Any comments?
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