Three ways amateur food reviews get it wrong

On Tuesday, we did a show about the impact that Yelp and other amateur review sites are having on the restaurant-going experience. One of our guests, food critic MC Slim JB, wrote a column after the show called 11 Reasons Your Yelp Reviews Suck, and 11 Things You Can Do About It. He writes that the amateur goes wrong when he:

• Bases his opinion on too small a sample or an unrepresentative one: a single visit, or brunch, a Restaurant Week meal, or on what I call the S*&%show Days – New Year’s Eve, Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, Thanksgiving Eve — where specialty menus and/or mobs of customers don’t reflect the typical dining experience. There are good reasons why pros always put in three or four visits before formulating an opinion. You should, too, though just two visits would still be better than one.

• Is obviously making unfair judgments or poor decisions based on ignorance of the restaurant’s cuisine, level of formality, intentions, or audience. For example, he’s angry that he couldn’t order Cantonese dishes at a Sichuan restaurant, doesn’t understand why the dive bar serves poorly-made Martinis, or can’t believe the Michelin three-star place has no children’s menu and won’t seat him while he’s wearing a bathing suit and flip-flops.

• Clearly has no understanding of how restaurants work. She can’t tell the difference between a service error and a kitchen error, gets angry when she hasn’t made a reservation at a peak time and has to wait for a table, or gets upset that the restaurant won’t seat her incomplete party. (Even pros can be guilty of this last one, hard as that may be to believe.)

Read the rest of MC Slim JB’s scoldings and advice here.