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Online resources for Western WA chowhounds?

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  • Suzanne Feb 14, 2001 10:49 AM
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Hi All!

Can anyone recommend some websites with restaurant reviews/news? I frequently use Zagat, Citysearch, SeattleInsider, and the local papers (Times, PI, Weekly, Stranger)...and of course CHOWHOUND!

Am I missing one? Afterall, as a true Chowhound - if I can't be tasting the food, I want to be reading about it!

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  1. Digitalcity.com.....Seattleinsider.com

    11 Replies
    1. re: scott

      Ignore the digital cities suggestion---they write their restaurant reviews from menus. A friend of mine freelanced in san fran and was writing so-called "reviews" on restaurants here in seattle, utah, twin cities, etc.

      1. re: sonja

        Wow! Really? I would suspect that things like that happen, but isn't that unethical? I mean, menu-planning and execution are two very seperate things.

        Is digialcity somehow linked to AOL? (Like citysearch and Microsoft/Ticketmaster)?

        Thanks for the tip!

        1. re: Suzanne

          Yes, AOL owns digital cities and, as far as I know, they have no local editors. Isn't it horrifying that people can't tell from reading their reviews.
          As for the ethics, yes. It's very bad. It's incredible that they get away with it. But here's what's worse: that same friend of mine also told me that the DC writers use the citysearch reviews to guide their profiles. Talk about unethical.

          1. re: sonja

            I'm amazed that anyone is amazed. Most food writers are lazy, incompetent and ethically compromised hacks. Why do you think most food "journalism" is so incredibly lousy?

            As for riding the coattails of others, it happens all the time. In fact, there are many big-time restaurant writers and editors who regularly dip into this very site for their news and information, yet have never once credited us in print.

            But that's what makes them big-time: they're smart enough to come here instead of to Citysearch.

            Anyway, that's why we're getting an ever-escalating number of users...people are paddling upstream in search of the information source.


            1. re: Jim Leff
              Rachel Kessler

              While I cannot defend food "journalism", I can vouch for my own ethical treatment of the restaurant review process. I freelance for The Stranger and I have never told anyone that I am I reviewing their joint before or while eating there, and I wouldn't dream of writing about someplace I'd never been to. Why write? I eat to write and write to eat. I've written reviews of places and then gone in and introduced myself, but I generally even shy away from that.

              My method of finding restaurants to review is based on word of mouth; riding around the city on the bus, my bike or car; and now I've been reading Chowhound, but I have not found out anything new about the Seattle scene. Its sad that "journalists" eshew the joy of sampling food for themselves only to steal and co-op ideas and opinions from others.

              Rachel Kessler

              1. re: Rachel Kessler

                I don't know where the word "journalism" comes from when discussing Digital Cities.
                But other reviewers in town are worth reading, Ms Kesler included (she obviously gets very little budget to eat with but manages to be 10 times more fun and informative than Nancy Leson (Times) any day). The others? Gregory Roberts at the P-I, Kathryn Robinson at the Weekly, and Allison Austin at citysearch. But overall, my impression of food journalism in this town is that it's just plain soft. When's the last time the Times published anything half-way critical? Even when they try it reads like a grandma gently giving someone some advice.
                There's a quote in a recent NY Times rest. review that I just love----here it is.

                "The dessert menu contains one very strange renegade, a poundcake made with picholine olives, that comes with a consumer warning: "for the adventurous only." It comes with spiced pears and black-truffle ice cream, and it should be shot on sight. "

                This is great food writing. Has anyone seen anything like this in Seattle ever? I'd love to know all of your opinions on restaurant criticism, particularly in Seattle....

                1. re: sonja
                  Rachel Kessler

                  I'd have to agree that food reviews are pretty paunchy in our town, and its not because all the restaurants are SO great. I wrote some mildly critical comment about a certain new hot spot and was immediately shot - (printed) letters to the ed calling me by name and gracing me with new, better names: Feedbag eater and Shithead among them; veiled threats; advertising pulled, and much hullaballo about me expressing my opinion of my experience. Perhaps other food writers don't to write anything critical because they don't want to upset our city's delicate restauranteers. Most outrage at my criticism dismissed my obnoxiousness as youthful, snotty, working class ignorance. Which is the truth.


                  1. re: Rachel Kessler

                    I'm sorry to hear that certain restaurateurs will sink to bashing a reviewer. However, I hope that we can rack that up to people in general can be cruel/stupid and lack integrity. So, just like some (but certainly not all) restaurateurs can be vicious - some (but certainly not all) critics/reviewers can be dishonesty and poorly motivated.

                    Not that Rachel has been fishing...but I just thought I'd note that I've always found her reviews entertaining and informative. They tell me the dishes sampled, the price of the dishes and the general quality of the food. But the reviews also detail the atmosphere, the owners/waitstaff etc. You know that this is one reviewer who did actually experience the eatery.

                    If anything, I think Chowhound provides an excellent solution to the review-by-plagarism problem. The chances are good that any comments (positive and critical) posted by the users here are based on real visits and real gastronomic experiences. So, instead of searching for more online resources for reviews, I'll turn to this website more often and bug you all with more questions in order to find great food in the NW.

                2. re: Rachel Kessler

                  "I've written reviews of places and then gone in and introduced myself, but I generally even shy away from that."

                  Maybe you should consider more than "generally shying away from that."

                  What happens when the restaurateur you've introduced yourself to opens another restaurant you need to review? Or when one of the workers/waiters switches jobs (as is frequently the case) and outs you to management when you're reviewing elsewhere? Or, just generally, as shmoozing tendencies invevitably erode your cover as word gets around?

                  And, anyway, what's your motivation in introducing yourself after a review? The outpouring of gratitude and offers of free or discounted frood, drink, and otherwise royal treatment (be they accepted, rejected, or grudgingly accepted here or there in "special cases") are exactly the sorts of phenomenon you're presumably in the business of categorically avoiding, no?


                  1. re: Jim Leff
                    Rachel Kessler

                    I should have been more specific about my "methods": I have called 2 restaurant owners and interviewed them over the phone - maintaining TOTAL anomynity, except for when my handkerchief slipped. And I was identified by one Turkish sandwich-maker after my review came out. My motivation, while you assume it was conniving, manipulative and otherwise crooked, was to write a well-researched review, to get a little background info on the people who made the food I had already sampled and made up my mind about. Does that sound impossibly righteous? Perhaps it is. I'm new at this, and had just assumed that people writing about food had standards and ethics. I know that most papers require this as protocol (not accepting bribes). I write about food because I love to eat good food and because I need the paycheck, I won't pretend that I am some dilettante in a vacuum - I have to work to eat, therefore my opinion is sullied by want - but I'm just not in that scene of getting off on people knowing who I am and turning down their attempts to ply me with especially prepared food. It scares me that one would assume that from what I wrote.


                    1. re: Rachel Kessler

                      I made none of the assumptions you've attributed to me regarding your motivations. I was just commenting on your posting. Thanks for the clarification.