Comments are closed.
Commenting on this item is available only to members of the site. You can sign in here or create an account here.
Just seems there's lots of gray area. Lots. Busy places, tons of people filtering in and out. You could be "known" and never really be identified depending on the circumstances. Can you merely be either inconspicuous or "outed?"
Yeah, I began to feel that people didn't really give a shit. But by then it was something I'd internalized. I would have felt less credible, even if it never affected my reviews.
That's exactly why I never had to go to Bruni or Riechl (both NYT critics) extremes when I was on review. The measures I mentioned are seriously, like, low end for a high end reviewer. I mean, were talking false noses and shit.
(might be the last chance I have to do that!)
And it is that I take secret pleasure in commenters correcting the spelling/grammar of blog posts.
So obviously I got a lot of secret pleasure out of Patrick's posts, and I will miss that.
I'll add that I feel vaguely ashamed of the way some of my former employers spoke when Ms. Brooks was in the house. She seemed to be known by all. I don't know enough about her work to know whether or not she deserved the disrespect.
And I will miss trying not to take all the shit you all seem to enjoy giving me so personally.
Wait. No I wont.
Don't worry you have 'till next Wednesday. I'll do my best to give you ample opportunity to get your kicks.
* I mean, really - that's a lot of bullshit for $100 a week.
Nah, we're just playin'.
Also, that you were a wonderful asset to the Mercury, and I'm sure you will be missed, and best of luck with your next endeavors.
Our rooms in Vegas were to be "run of house" i.e. hotel's choice. At check-in, we were assigned a room and was getting the normal and very impersonal spiel, when as part of that the clerk passed over a mini Zagat guide for Vegas. Without thinking and in my usual friendly way I said "Wow, thanks! I love these guys. I contribute to their hotel ratings and write some reviews for them" (only done as part of my extensive travel and they just gave me copies of the books I contributed to). The desk clerk literally yanked back the stuff she had given me and got very friendly and assigned us a "much better" room. At first I naively thought my niceness had finally broken through to her and it all happened so fast, it wasn't until I was walking away I realized what had happened. That seriously creeped me out and I almost lost all respect for that hotel then and there. I have not stayed there again and did not include a rating for them to Zagat, but did mention that they tried to buy a good review. Other than the daily maid service, they had no chance to give me any service, so I can't speculate as to whether anything else might have been "much better." Ewww!!!
You're wrong. Anonymity is one of the most over-rated features of food reviewing. There are many things above it rarely as focused on.
eg, a food reviewer is much more hampered by their limited ability to experience the restaurant in a complete way. How many meals did you have at most restaurants you reviewed and how many dishes did you try at each meal? How many times over the course of going there did you try certain dishes? Consistency is one of the toughest things to maintain in a restaurant. Staff changes often, either because crews have varying shifts or because there's just turnover, people get sick, etc. This is the real advantages of the internet, even Yelpers, over a single reviewer. The internet review is continually evolving, commented on, amended, and put into context along with more and more reviews. (Personally, I think the traditional media restaurant review should go away. There's no utility in it anymore. Traditional media should focus more on what it can do well that the interweb can't.)
And truth is, the stuff that restaurants try to do when they recognize a reviewer don't make that much difference, or actually have the opposite effect. Schmoozing is rather obvious and feels icky. A reviewer knows when they're being buttered up. Comped plates don't help -- in fact they hurt -- if the food's not good. If it is good, then who gives a shit whether it was free? The reader isn't harmed. If you fuck up a dish, or, more likely, want to make it perfect and have to re-fire it, then it takes extra time. It may be marginally better to go out late and right than to go out late and imperfect, but still only marginally so. Sure, little service things here and there. Making sure someone doesn't wait long for a table, making sure the staff is attentive, etc. But it's little stuff that probably won't be able to be fully replicated for over a series of meals, unless the place has their act together anyway.
And you can't change the palate of the chef, the menu, the ingredients, the recipes, the concept, etc, just because you recognize the person walking in the door. And this is 80% of what the reviewer will be focused on.
That said, I respect your opinion. One of my best friends and a food blogger, Scott at DallasFood.org and I go back-and-forth on this all the time.
I'm friends with Robb. I've argued against him on the subject both online and in-person. It's worth noting that he still largely believes in that. He stopped reviewing and focuses on his books and feature writing now, plus has helped open a Tex-Mex restaurant.