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Feb 18, 2009 10:56 AM

Who labels them "Best Restaurants"

Marketing and self appointed Foodies who write for glossy food magazines....they tend to create a "fake" buzz well before a place actually boils their first pot of water.

Here are two concrete examples: Jimmy's BBQ was labelled "Best BBQ Restaurant on the Main Line" by MainLine Times way back in 2007. Jimmy's just opened a couple months back and as you will see elsewhere in CH it has horrible reviews. Prior to opening it was just a small catering outfit. Jimmy's owner must have either paid MLT staff or is intimately connected to them.

Maia was also rated "best" by Gourmet almost a whole year before it opened its doors.

Perhaps these days, they judge how good a restaurant is by looking at the size of the contractor's check?

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  1. that's a good question, and i always wonder that myself when paging through those airline mags! as a rule when traveling to other cities, i would avoid places listed in those mags as the ones i see listed in philly are places i would avoid here.

    1. > Perhaps these days, they judge how good a restaurant is by looking at
      > the size of the contractor's check?

      ....Or by the advertising check, most likely.

      When I was running a gallery full-time for a while, I got a pretty good inside view on how those glossies (especially stuff like the airline mags & hotel-room guides) run. It was pretty much ALL based on how much you paid in for advertising space.

      And the sad thing was, when I paid for advertising in a couple of those guides, the only business it ever seemed to really generate was more glossies and mags having their advertising departments call me trying to sell more advertising...

      1 Reply
      1. re: sockii

        Call me jaded, but I've always believed that, with few exceptions, restaurant raves and reviews are a purchased commodity. It's a fact that many restaurant "reviews" are actually written by restaurant owners and marketing folks, particularly those that appear in those glossy publications that look like (special-interest) magazines but are actually nothing more than advertising venues.

      2. Not that picking apart your example discounts the validity of your point, but Jimmy's has gotten favorable reviews on CH in the past week or two after working through some of the pitfalls of opening a new restaurant.

        From what I can find on the MLT awards, the readers vote. Of course the "unwashed masses" may be no better, but at least it's not 100% paid advertisement.

        In any case, it never hurts to take such awards with a big helping of salt.

        1. Did anybody else find a copy of Philadelphia Style in the mailbox? The one with Cole Hamels (sigh) on the cover? I know this is more of a 'hotel/info' magazine but its restaurant section is like a thesaurus for superlatives. Everything is delicious, service top shelf and the place is a shining example of _______ cuisine.

          5 Replies
          1. re: the dog ate my homework

            Although I haven't seen it, my guess is that this is exactly the type of "glossy publication" I referred to in my post above. And the fact that you just found it in your mailbox shouts PAID ADVERTISING!

            1. re: CindyJ

              Well said, all of the above. Which is why I think it is important to have sites like CH.

              Back in the early days of the web I used to run a site about Main Line Restaurants. The reviews were entirely collected from people. It was amazing how often I heard from restaurant owners who tried to promote their venues. Also an unusually high number of food suppliers would write trying to sell their wares...from fresh Chesapeake Crabs to Idaho was interesting.

              For the comment by jzerocsk (reproduced below):
              From what I can find on the MLT awards, the readers vote. Of course the "unwashed masses" may be no better, but at least it's not 100% paid advertisement.

              How can readers vote accolades about a restaurant that hasn't even opened????

              AND, the "unwashed masses" are the ones who go eat and PAY for their meals. I'd rather hear their opinions ANY DAY than some self appointed food critic's raves about "broccolini" or whatever happens to be the designated gourmet item of the week.

              To me "unwashed masses" = "open source". It is a proven model for honest opinion and integrity.

              1. re: bmcdeepak

                Isn't everyone on CH a 'self-appointed food critic' ? How is someone who writes for Gourmet 'self-appointed' ? Do you think there are no restaurant owners on CH promoting their venues?

                1. re: Buckethead

                  And, let's not forget those new CH posters whose names we've never seen before; people who have just one or two posts. More often than not, they're not asking for anybody's opinion about something or posting a question. They're here to either praise or slam a resto as part of their agenda or smear campaign.

                  1. re: the dog ate my homework

                    good points!! i tend to only weigh the opinions of active posters and especially those whose tastes i've come to know match up with mine. i think for the most part, these people are here to promote good food, period, and not a bitter or financed agenda. i really, really cannot stand people who come on here for a one-off rant about a place (i can think of one recent osteria bashing in particular). what's unfortunate is that these rantings often rank high in the google search results because of CH's popularity in the recent years, and average joe googling X restaurant doesn't neccessarily know to take those one-time-pissed-off-user bashings with a grain of salt.

                    one review that irked recently was the citypaper review of el camino real, absolutely slamming it i feel without giving it a fair shot (only dining there once maybe twice from what the reader can tell), and even masking his praise for the restaurant with negative statements. that review followed another scathing review (even tho i kinda hated to agree with him on the wine-o review) by the same writer who i'm now convinced just slams places to get readership up. which, sadly works, because i'm really curious to see which place he chooses to slam next and whether i agree with it or not. i like el camino real, and while i've seen a couple of its negative points (parts of the menu don't entirely make sense price-wise, burritos are dry) the dishes that i order frequently there are fantastic, and the servers are always pleasant. i can't get enough of their seitan wings; they're the only place in the neighborhood who knows what to do with seitan. (cantina dos' seitan is frankly gross, and i miss the now-closed azure's seitan tips every day)