Chef Tyler Florence recently proposed a question to his Twitter followers that I can't stop thinking about. He asked: what's more important to you, a local restaurant critic's review or Yelp? While I've never been much of a Yelper, I've always read the San Francisco Chronicle's restaurant reviews. However, I prefer to make my own judgment about an eatery. I guess neither the critic or the Yelper has much an influence over me. How about you?
Who knew the role of restaurant reviewer could be a dangerous one? Last Friday, Steve Barnes, the food critic for the Albany Times-Union, was leaving a local restaurant when he and a friend were violently attacked by two assailants. The attackers approached Barnes and his buddy, punching them both repeatedly in the face. The victims have bruises and swelling, but sustained no serious injuries.
Barnes doesn't believe the attack was connected to the restaurant he reviewed, but he thinks this act of violence was targeted rather than random. The restaurant reviewer wrote about his plans to go to a particular eatery on his blog, and the men who assaulted Barnes and his friend had been seen hanging around the restaurant's parking lot for hours before the attack.
While he has no further clues as to who his assailants were, Barnes does have a message for them. "Yo, attackers: If I’m supposed to be nicer to somebody in the future, drop me an e-mail. Otherwise you’re just a coward. Black eyes fade, but cowardice and thuggery are permanent character flaws."
What are your reactions to this news? Do you think the act of violence had to do with the fact that Barnes was a restaurant critic?
There was a post over at Just Hungry about whether or not non-vegetarians could accurately review vegetarian restaurants. What do you think?
This weekend the San Francisco Chronicle ran a pretty interesting front page story about how food bloggers impact the restaurant industry. While mainstream critics generally wait 30 days before reviewing a new restaurant (so that the chef and staff can work out glitches), everyday people, who use sites like Yelp to voice their opinion, review places as soon as they can. So if your chicken was overdone and rubbery, the whole world is going to know. Some savvy restauranteurs use the customer feedback to their advantage (if patrons say portion sizes are too small, or service is too slow you can fix it), while others just end up struggling against the bad reviews. After all, who wants to go to the publicly-voted 1 star restaurant when the publicly-voted 4 star is right next door?
So what do you guys think about all of this. Do you think that online restaurant reviews are valid? And do you use them?