1. Marcia

    I don’t really trust food critics. The only one I trust to judge the taste of food is myself!!

  2. Brooke — I’m with you. I’ve certainly gotten bum steers from both pros and the yelping amateurs, but the pros have a much better track record.

    So where do you stand on Zagat, which essentially splits the difference?

    Of course, now that I live in a restaurant wasteland, it’s all moot.

    • Food Woolf

      Tamar, to tell you the truth, I’m not a fan of Zagat. I could go on and on, but I’d never pay for the print version of Citysearch.

  3. 3/17/2010

    I enjoy reading the reviews of respected critics like Sam Sifton, Sherry Virbila, Michael Bauer, et al., but pro critics are also zealously defending their turf, as per the Ozersky article. Jobs are literally at stake.

  4. 3/17/2010

    Brooke, –You make some excellent points. I, too, am in the biz.
    I agree completely with your ‘code of ethics’, and agree that the yelpers and other diners that post are a complete mixed bag. Not unlike the guests we deal with every night in our restaurants! There is clearly room for guidelines and maybe a ‘common language’ that will help guide readers of these sites as to what is helpful and what is somebody having a bad day.
    Unfortunately, I think that too many in the ‘food review’ business are charlatans. For every fair and balanced professional, there are many more who have become all too enamored of their own power, and truly do a disservice to their readers, and the restaurants and their employees, by not truly being fair in their assessment. Sometimes the nastiness and smug attitudes make we wonder if some of these reviewers even like restaurants! Worst of all, though, are the many publications where it is the ‘unspoken’ agreement that listings and reviews come with the price tag of advertising in that periodical. That happens way more than you can imagine.
    I am not as familiar with the scene in LA, but in my home base of Chicago, much of this ‘journalism’ occurs, and it does not help the restaurant business because it does not really fairly represent what people like or need to know about what is out there for them. As much as I love Phil Vettel of the Chicago Tribune, one of the good ones you spoke about, he is probably a wiser and more important voice now precisely because every diner can post about their experience.
    As a long time restaurant person, I was taught early in my career by some brilliant mentors that my guests would be the only voices that really mattered. I have found that to be true. That, and adherence to a real vision of what one’s restaurant should be, is what makes one restaurant stand out over another.
    I for one would not imagine that professional restaurant criticism will disappear. If it morphs into a better craft of food writing, which is what the best reviewers do now, then we will all be better off.
    BTW, I love your site. Keep writing!

  5. 3/18/2010

    Well, all is well and said but I only post reviews of restaurants that I like. In this depression, sorry, (p.c.) recession, it would be cruel to steer any potential customers away from a restaurant just because I thought it wasn’t “worthy.”


  6. 3/18/2010

    Hi Brooke,

    Nice job.

    Restaurant critics are becoming an endangered species because they’re usually older than the social media set and have different values; they’re steeped in Eurocentric ideas of dining; and most importantly: they’re expensive.

    Papers (and a few magazines) pay for 3+ trips to upscale restaurants. The critics who have been around longest are paid the most. Whoever replaces Sokolow will not get his salary, I bet you. And he (probably, because that’s how our system works) will probably also be younger.

  7. johanna

    i love reading the restaurant reviews of both irene virbila and jonathon gold–i trust them and they are enjoyable to read. i hope they stick around. i don’t take the ”reviews” section of any online site like citysearch seriously, i don’t enjoy reading them either. i do feel they should be allowed though.
    i love both larry and julie’s response posts above–well said! well thought!

    i enjoyed this the most of all the ”service 101” posts–

  8. Sally

    I completely agree that websites that try to write reveiws are just plain out ridiculous! I only trust food critics that actually give a hoot about their job. I myself am a food critic in the making so please help me tell the truth! By the way I LOVE your site!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  9. 7/6/2010

    I review restaurants for a national magazine, it’s refreshing to know that saying something “truthful” still garners an emotional response. People are still reading magazines and newspapers. As a food journalist, I seek the foods that speak clearly of the place- however, let me say that I don’t always choose my stories.

    It’s not the death of professional restaurant criticism, but a broader example of what it means to be a critic. I have no agenda to destroy a restaurant, I know how hard it is to open and maintain one. My goal is to have the chef/owner do better. They have to possess passion, otherwise get out of the restaurant business.
    Food journalists and to a greater extent, bloggers (because they have ALL the power) are important parts of the food biz.
    Take a class in Food Writing at the New School with Andy F. Smith or Food Blogging with Steven Shaw- or Professional Food Journalism with Alan Richman.
    You can’t get into these classes. Food is HOT.
    Take a class in Social Networking at ICE. The world is your oyster! EAT IT!

  10. 10/31/2011

    I see a place for both professional restaurant reviews and casual, everyday citizen reviews. I personally take both with a grain of salt, not necessarily believing either word for word. The article seems to be based more on the author’s fear of losing his job or title than any perceived cost to the diner or restaurants.

    • 10/31/2011

      Interesting perspective. I’m glad you came by to leave your comment. Thanks for stopping by!

  11. judah

    I feel restaurant review as a profession, like other theatrical critiquing, is art in itself and therefore should be judged by someone trusted in any such artistic world or community; and this process happens at varying degrees of class. I also feel that due to the availability of the internet and the ability to amass information online people are receiving the information and reviews they require from high end critiques to low class blatant loud mouthing about hygiene. The kinds of people judging your restaurant online become an ear marker to your restaurants class prestige. If brad pit twits and bad mouths you for cutting him off at the bar or cooking his steak rare you get exposure. This exposure is not necessarily bad. the internet may be dismantling old forms or criticism from trusted “academic” or artistic communities and is replacing it with the amassing of information yet blatantly stratifying it into class groups of information online. Yet was the old world of criticism so much better: bad reconstructions of French and Italian snobbery?

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