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Chowhound not the best way to deal with a bad restaurant meal

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Excellent Louisa Kasdon piece in the new Stuff Magazine (a Boston biweekly) about the proper way to respond to a terrible restaurant meal: http://stuffboston.com/feed/archive/2...

I think her anecdotal evidence (based on discussions at a local social-networking conference for the restaurant industry) that suggests that few restaurateurs read online reviews is off base, but otherwise she is spot on.

http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

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  1. Restaurants cannot afford NOT to read their reviews, online or otherwise. However, the best way to deal with a bad restaurant meal has always been to speak matter of factly with the owner or the GM at the time of that bad meal.

    1. I pay attention to, and have a lot of trust in the posts of regulars here, who, over time, have established their credentials as honest people, without any particular ax to grind, sharing their experiences and expressing their opinions. Getting to know regulars here, through their postings, I am able to establish in my mind, who among the regulars, share tastes and perceptions that are similar to mine, who might offer meaningful, constructive feedback, and who are able to convey on objective sense of the overall performance of a given restaurant.

      On the other hand, when I come across some one-post-hit-and-run poster with an obvious agenda to publicly spank some restaurant for some perceived crime, when either the restaurant being discussed is generally favored here, or especially when the restaurant being discussed has no previous history here, I ignore the post and dismiss the poster as just a social misfit who has not figured out how to get along in life.

      If I were a restaurant owner, I don't think I would have the time or masochistic personality to regularly read every conceivable online forum where my restaurant might be praised or smeared. I would, as Kason suggests, respond to direct feedback, either in person or via email, from my patrons, but would strongly resist any inclination to even seem to acknowledge the rantings of some coward hiding behind the relative anonymity of graffiti sprayed on a public wall.

      1 Reply
      1. re: ChinoWayne

        It is true that posting history does speak volumes. I posted a very bad review (not food related) on another forum. A CH member wrote to me saying that because she recognized my handle, it lent credibility to my post. I was pissed off enough with the incident that I registered on yelp to relay my experience as well. As I seemed like a crazy hit-and-run poster with an ax to grind, I actually prefaced my review with my Chowhound profile.

      2. is the author of the piece a chowhound regular? she seems to quote none other than Jfood in her penultimate sentence:

        'Dining out isn't about playing "gotcha" with a restaurant.'

        good article btw.

        1. Chowhound is not a way to "deal" with a meal.

          Chowhound is a way for people to explore and report about their culinary experiences. We pool our thoughts, experiences, ideas so that we can all, hopefully, eat better, which means finding the good stuff and avoiding the bad stuff. If Ms. Kasdon is a regular here on chowhound, and she posts only about her good experiences and holds back on the bad ones, well then she's only half helpful to her fellow 'hounds. More of a cheerleader, really.

          Sorry, no, but if I have a bad experience, I'm going to post about it as thoughtfully and passionately as I do about the good experiences. Of course if I'm having a problem during the course of the meal, I'm going to, of course, "see if the problem is fixable" and send back my steak or fries or whatever, BECAUSE MY GOAL IS TO HAVE A GOOD MEAL. If the problem doesn't get rectified, I'll talk to the manager if I want to talk to the manager, either on site or later. But, you know what? I'm not going to chase the manager or owner down to give them feedback. If they aren't accessible or available or don't care, well, it's not really my job as a consumer to go out of my way to give a restaurateur gentle corrective suggestions to improve his or her business performance.

          And, yes, I'm also going to come onto chowhound and talk about it with my chowfriends if I think it's relevant or helpful to the community. Absolutely. I'll try to mention any extenuating circumstances if there are any. I might even mention my conversation with the manager and his/her response.

          Now the truth is, I don't post about every meal I have. If I posted about every burger I ate at the Nook that would be a yawner. So, if I have one disappointing meal at the Nook that I think is probably random, an off-day, I might not mention it at all. But if I have a couple of disappointing meals there, I will probably mention it on Chowhound, whether I talked to the manager or not. This isn't called "playing gotcha," it's called sharing about my experiences as honestly and accurately and passionately as I can, for the benefit of my fellow 'hounds.

          I will also say that I take great joy in posting about wonderful meals I've had, restaurants I love, dishes that delight me. I take no joy in talking about the disappointing meals. I view reporting back on my disappointments more as an obligation than anything, and I do take it seriously.

          ~TDQ

          22 Replies
          1. re: The Dairy Queen

            Ditto.

            1. re: The Dairy Queen

              I agree with absolutely everything you say here, TDQ. I recently reported on a lousy meal and was answered by several other posters who all agreed that the place in question was not good. I subsequently received an email from the owner who was infuriated and expressed his displeasure in no uncertain terms, bordering on the threatening. Listen, buddy, if the food had been good I would have been delighted to post the polar opposite of what I wrote.

              1. re: buttertart

                I'd be tempted to share a letter like that, too. I wouldn't but it would be tempting. You'd think, as a business owner, he/she would be concerned about customers' opinions. How much better if you could have followed up with a "I received a nice e-mail from the owners, who were concerned... I'll be trying it again...and updating." I've read that on quite a few review sites where criticisms were handled professionally and it makes me take notice and try out places.

                1. re: chowser

                  This email was most unpleasant, I have never received anything like it in my life before. I even contacted CH mods to ask what I should do about it. My feeling and their advice was to let it drop and not reply.

                  1. re: buttertart

                    That does sound like the sensible (and tough) thing to do. I'd have to sit on my fingers.

                    1. re: chowser

                      One of the friends we were with wrote a hilarious and quite profane reply (which was never sent) which made me feel rather better about the whole thing.

                      1. re: buttertart

                        Oh, I love those kinds of emails/letters you never send. Be as outrageous as you want! I think it was smart of you to not engage with the owner further. I'm sure they take these comments personally--who wouldn't, really--but sending a mean email to a customer isn't likely to win her back.

                        If I were a restaurateur, I think I'd have a trusted member of my staff keep tabs on what people are saying on chowhound, etc. I don't think I'd have the stomach to read all of the comments myself, but, I think I'd want to know what constructive things people are saying so I could address those issues.

                        ~TDQ

                        1. re: The Dairy Queen

                          Quite idiotic of the owner to have sent that EMail to buttertart. What's to say she's not someone who wouldn't PDF it and put it up on a website for ALL to see? Short-sighted of that owner.

                          Yes, I can understand how they might upset at a negative post on a message board - but wouldn't you want to try and fix the probelm first? Obviously not - as this one lashed out, thinking nothing could be wrong! Dumb, dumb, dumb.

                          1. re: LindaWhit

                            First of all, great post, Dairy Queen. Chowhound (and yelp, etc) is for the benefit of fellow diners and not posting about negative experiences does a disservice to fellow posters.

                            Of course, use common sense. Every joint has an off night.

                            The writer did the correct thing in terms of dealing with the restaurant. and is correct that the way to deal with problems is not to, um , yelp about it. Using online forums for that goal is not only ineffective, it is cowardly.

                            As to buttertart''s nasty email. I have gotten a handful like that over the years. One was particularily memorable because I complained about rude and bad service on Chowhound and all the email did was to confirm what I said.

                            I did write back saying just that and telling him he really didn't think things through. What was to keep me from posting that all over the internet. I followed that with if he ever contacted me again, I WOULD post it on any site that would allow it ... Chowhound probably would delete it. I have that email still in my saved folder.

                            Ultimately, I did something worse, IMO. I never mentioned the place again ... good or bad. Chowhound and other sites can be loud microphones for promoting the good guys. Even bitching about a place gives them some publicity ... and the opportunity for others to rush to their defense.

                            In all these years, other than me, there's been maybe one or two one liners about that particular business. I keep thinking how had the owner offered an apology instead and corrected the situation, I probably would be posting about them to this day ... in a good way.

                            1. re: rworange

                              Very good points, rw. Sometimes not saying anything at all about a place is deafening in its very silence.

                              (And my apologies for my misspellings in the post to which you responded! LOL)

                2. re: buttertart

                  That's just it ... it is the exception rather than the rule that restaurant management are skilled at dealing with customer disappointment (and the aftermath of their own mistakes), even when you're not angry. I recently had an experience (that I posted about here--I'm sure the restaurant folks saw my post) where my food was literally inedible, which is quite rare for me, and I sent it back. I wasn't angry, but the waitress and manager freaked, which further ruined my meal.

                  I can see addressing it with the restaurant if you're in a place with limited options. But in my larger metro area, there are more restaurants than I can get to before they close (as in, forever). So if I have a bad experience, I often just move on. And I usually let my fellow Chowhounders know so they won't waste their time--or at least have fair warning. That's what it's about ...

                  And my sense is that high-end restaurants absolutely keep up with Chowhound. The very first time I posted on Chowhound, it was about an unfortunate experience where we'd been hustled out so fast that my SIL forgot her bag. When she went back to get it the next day, they were giving her explanations in response to my post that they clearly had read.

                3. re: The Dairy Queen

                  Agreed. I once posted a negative review of a place and another CH member insinuated that I was kicking the restaurant while it's down and how he/she only posts positive things.

                  1. re: Miss Needle

                    You know, I do in general want to keep my posts on the positive side. After all, it is way more fun to talk about the good stuff than the lousy stuff. And we all have bad days, even restaurants, so it isn't always necessary to dwell on the negative.

                    But, if we aren't allowed to be honest about our experiences, we're going to end up eating a lot of mediocre food and letting some restaurants rest on their laurels. I am always so amazed when someone will post something negative about a board favorite, and suddenly all of these people--chowhound regulars-- come out of the woodwork, chiming in about their negative experiences.

                    While I think you don't ever want to be mean and spiteful when talking about a bad restaurant experience (and I'm not suggesting that you ever are, by the way), because it is someone's livelihood, it makes me sad when people feel afraid to be honest about a negative experience. It just doesn't serve anyone well.

                    ~TDQ

                    1. re: The Dairy Queen

                      Very true. I think a lot of CHers are afraid to post something negative about a board fave for the fear of getting piled on (which I have to say happens from time to time). I see what happens on my local board if somebody says something bad about Eleven Madison Park.

                      And when I post something negative, it's not in the vein of "GOD-AWFUL STINKIN' PIECE OF CRAP ONLY FIT FOR A DOG!" I generally don't pay much attention to those posts. I try to be constructive in my criticism and give specific examples why I thought my experience was bad. Restaurants do read these boards. I think a local bomboloni place drastically changed its goods after reading the negative CH comments.

                      1. re: Miss Needle

                        It is the two month law.

                        A place will get a rave or a negative report. Most posts following are similar. People go and, as you said, many don't want to be the opposing point of view. Finaally enough people go (around the two month point) and SOMEONE finally can't stand it anymore and posts an opposing point of view. Others jump on board.

                        One other thing that isn't good, happens. Long time posters, especially heavy contributors, often don't get their opinions challenged.

                        Even I do that. There are a few long-time posers that I will rarely post an opposing view. Mainly because I usually trust their opinion and figure in this case our tastes differ. I will if though if something is really egregious.

                        This happens to me too since I post a lot. I hate it. Recently someone FINALLY posted they didn't think much of a place and even though they usually agree with me, meh. I wish they had posted sooner. I don't want to intimidate anyone. I'm not any professional or anything ... and even professionals are wrong. I would rather have a more balanced view.

                        Over the years I have scaled back due to that. Now I rarely respond if someone hates a restaurant I love ... or visa versa. I had my say. They should have theirs unchallenged.

                        1. re: rworange

                          "One other thing that isn't good, happens. Long time posters, especially heavy contributors, often don't get their opinions challenged".
                          Amen to that. I've actually made a few friends through CH and we post by email, because we all could no longer bother to debate with someone who feels they are the final answer to all things food and gets downright nasty.

                          1. re: BubblyOne

                            Yep - it's rather unfortunate. Back in the day, there was an unwritten rule among more veteran posters that one would make a much greater effort to disagree gently with newer posters, to foster an environment that minimises groupthink and maximises independent thinking.

                            1. re: BubblyOne

                              No. That's not what I meant at all. That's a separate issue.

                              Sorry to do this to you Limster, but I would be loathe to post an opposing opinion to something he posted mainly because I respect what he posts and I figure we just have different tastes. I know he would be respectul if I did post an opposing view as I have on occasion. Long, long ago I didn't like some chocolate he liked ... I mean I REALLY didn't like it. He was cool with it and didn't jump on me.

                              There are a few other posters like that. It is just that with the depth of their knowledge ... or frequent posting that is usually spot on ... people may feel a little intimidated to say something . I know when I posted that opposing opinion ... back in the day ... I was really uncomfortable doing so. However, I really, really hated that chocolate so that overcame my hesitancy.

                          2. re: Miss Needle

                            I've had the pile on before and it's not really that pleasant. I think it triggered some sort of showdown on my local board where people went out to decide definitively whether that restaurant or another nearby was better. I just don't see a reason there needs to be any sort of champion. I am not sure that talking to management would have helped my situation because the food just didn't suit my tastes as much as the other restaurant in the competition.

                            1. re: queencru

                              I've been on both sides of the pile on, embarassingly. But, the longer I hang around this place, the more important I've come to believe those "dissenting" viewpoints are. Not the people who are being contrary for the sake of being contrary, but those small voices in the crowd who notice something I might have missed. So, now I try really hard not to pile on, even when I disagree, but to ask more questions so I can understand the person's perspective. Sometimes the people you disagree with can have more to teach you than you realize.

                              ~TDQ

                              1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                Confucius: "When three men walk together, surely one among them can be my teacher." Many teachers on this site!

                      2. re: The Dairy Queen

                        Perfect.

                      3. Thanks for sharing Slim. It's hard to do, but I agree that it's most useful to deal with a bad meal head-on, with the manager if they are present and available, or the next day via the contact info. I'm also a BIG proponent of the effusive Thank you the next day if the meal or service was extraordinary -- that's a much more enjoyable phone call to make.

                        And I agree with other posters on this thread ... I love to post about good food and good experiences, and I generally hate to post about the bad ones. But I do it, for the sake of the tribal knowledge we are collecting here.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: yumyum

                          I've started to read the reviews on Urbanspoon. Since they lean towards the positive, I read the negative reviews of places I am considering pretty closely. That's because you are far from alone in not enjoying posting a bad review, so when someone does, I take that as an indication that the reviewer was really, really unhappy with his or her meal.

                          1. re: Bob W

                            I do that with Yelp. I sort by stars. If most are four and five stars, I read the one star reviews first. If most are negative, I read the positie reviews first.

                        2. For folks who haven't read the article, its main point is *not* "Don't post negative reviews on amateur review sites." I think we all agree that there is value is presenting honest opinions of restaurants here, up and down, even if it gets up the nose of defensive fans.

                          What the article does advocate is not posting online slams in the heat of the moment without having given a restaurant's management an opportunity to respond to serious issues first. I agree with the author's contention that this is likelier to result in the desired outcome that the restaurant a) compensates at least in part for your misery, and b) continually improves the experience it delivers to all comers. (In general, it's a good customer habit for a lot of reasons.)

                          If, given that chance, a restaurant's management does not do everything it can to make things right for a reasonable customer, I think you're perfectly justified in firing away online.

                          http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                          5 Replies
                          1. re: MC Slim JB

                            I still disagree that she's putting too much onus on the customer to solve the restaurant's problem and it's this sentence that I take issue with the most: "You're not merely the client; you're eyes and ears for an absent owner."

                            Bully on that, I AM merely the client. I just want to have dinner. I don't want to be in the restaurant consulting business. And, I am not your mother or your business partner or your personal advisor. If I have a problem, I'm going to try to correct it with your staff "in real time." And if it can't get resolved, I will try--once at a reasonable time of day-- to reach the owner or manager by telephone or email after that. But, if they don't pick up the phone or return my call, I'm not going to keep following up. I am a busy person and I am not going to take time out of MY work day to track an "absent" owner down. That's just B.S. in my opinion.

                            Now, would I probably fire an immediate post off on Chowhound if I didn't hear back right away? No, I'd probably wait a couple of days to give the owner a chance to call me back and for me to cool down and get a little perspective. But, I'm not the owner's eyes and ears. Be your own eyes and ears, or pay someone competent to be that for you.

                            ~TDQ

                            1. re: MC Slim JB

                              I read the article.

                              While she addressed how to deal with the situation in terms of correcting in with managements, she was also very specific about NOT posting about it online. She starts the article with that.

                              What a lot of people are saying here is they agree with her interms of correcting problems, but disagree about not posting to inform fellow diners. It is a two part process.

                              As to firing away ... no. That is not right. Be informative to altert other diners, but don't do revenge postings.

                              1. re: MC Slim JB

                                I was observing that some of these responses sound like a defense of posting rational negative reviews on Chowhound et. al., when I don't think that practice is what the author was criticizing.

                                To wit: "I'm all for sharing news of great food finds online. But I draw the line at immediately disseminating anonymous diatribes when the news is bad."

                                I think the operative words here are "immediately" and "anonymous". The restaurant deserves a chance to respond directly to a complaining customer. Once a slam is out there and under a Chowhound handle, in many cases all the restaurant can do is fret and bear the bad publicity, when, if given a chance to make amends, they might do so.

                                I'm not trying to be an industry apologist. I think fair-minded negative reviews can and should be posted here. But I have been that guy who did an online takedown of a place in a fit of pique, and later felt regret: that behavior was momentarily satisfying, but not really in the spirit of wanting a potentially- or mostly-good place to get better. I think an offending restaurant ought to be given the shot at doing the right thing first.

                                If the customer makes that overture at a constructive dialog in good faith and is not met with a satisfactory response, then I say, "Blast away."

                                http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                                1. re: MC Slim JB

                                  .............If the customer makes that overture at a constructive dialog in good faith and is not met with a satisfactory response, then I say, "Blast away."............

                                  Amen to that. The best part of the hubris of the restaurant that cares not about the customer bringing an honest complaint to their attention, nor to the subsequent 'blasting away', is their closing a few years later because they do, after all, stink and deserve to fail.

                                  Life has a way of working out with arrogant restaurants, and that's a VERY good thing!

                                  1. re: MC Slim JB

                                    if i have a crap meal in a place, even a highly touted and much beloved place, i will say so here and/or on yelp. That was my experience. It does not mean it was everyone else's experience. That is why other people will post theirs. as an aggregate we can take this collection of experiences and form an opinion. The onus is on the restaurant to give me good food and good service, not on me to find out why they slipped up and served me a plate of crap.

                                2. In a perfect world I would agree with the article. The reality is that the majority of restaurant owners, managers, chefs and down the line, care about the food and dining experience, but there are those who will tell you "who are you to tell me how to run my restaurant? Eat somewhere else".

                                  I think the speed of online reviews can give a restaurant a wake up call to get their ship in order. In the old days restaurants would suffer a lingering death as word of mouth slowly affected their business. By that time it was impossible to fix due to the number of people that had had negative experiences. Now, if you see business is slowing down you can hop online and hopefully find out what went wrong, take corrective action and get the seats filling once again.

                                  Positive reviews will generate more business. As more newspapers tighten their belts and cut budgets online reviews are a necessity and should be honest. Any person who reports that a meal was good when it wasn't damages their own credibility.

                                  1. jfood tries (sometimes unsuccessfuLly) to phrase it such that it eas not to his liking if it is a taste issue, but when it is a service issue or a preparation issue, then it is not an opinion. He has been piled on and maybe once or twice :-)) piled on others. Most times he forces his hand tO the "back" button.

                                    He also tries to contact management about any really bad stuff. Sometimes it is a good conversation and other times he feels like he is speaking with an entitled alien. But the boards are here to guide people in searching for good food. You learn to trust people and you learnd to, well you guys know.

                                    and as another poster attributed to jfood upthread, it is not a game of gatcha or trying to get a free mea, jfood has turned down many a free offer. It is about trying to give constructive feedback. Starting with "it was the worst meal I ever ate and am never coming back" can either lead to a hang-up by many a manager or the really good ones will take it as a challenge to turn the opinion.

                                    3 Replies
                                    1. re: jfood

                                      I recently contacted a chain burger place in Boca and said our office was not happy that our orders were consistently wrong when we faxed them. The owner emailed me back within an hour thanking me for my nicely worded email and offering a freebie which I promptly turned down saying I was just commenting for their purposes.

                                      I also spoke to an owner this week at a steak restaurant on my way out the door a little disgruntled that my steak was not done to order and I had to send it back leaving me with no food while my fellow diners were tucking in. He also offered a free meal which I declined. I would rather give constructive criticism than make a big fuss and I am never looking for comps unless things really go horribly wrong.

                                      1. re: jfood

                                        I think that one of the really valuable "services" that posting on CH provides is that of demonstrating how to/how not to approach some of these bad restaurant experiences. Please do not take this as being facetious, but there have been instances where my quick temper could have gotten the better of me, but I tried to model my approach more along the lines of something jfood would do. There have been other posts (not jfood's) where I've thought: "holy cr*p, I hope I wouldn't act like that!".

                                        1. re: PattiCakes

                                          and there are certain posts that jfood has posted where he reads and says to himself, "holy cr*p, did you really write or do that?!!" :-))

                                      2. A restaurant has many opportunities to remedy a situation which is not going well. A good owner/manager will be on the alert for items sent back, table which have not received food in a timely manner, plates barely touched, and tables that just don't seem happy. As the MOD scans each area observations can be made.

                                        If my dining experience has issues and the management does not pickup on any of these cues I feel it speaks volumes. I don't care if the owner is gone. If the owner has to be there to keep it running properly then the staff either doesn't give a damn and/or is poorly trained. Neither scenario is good.

                                        If staff observes a problem and inquires and tries to remedy it - that makes big points. Problems happen, but restaurateurs not being aware or acknowledging the problem just makes the situation worse. Furthermore, inaction implies lack of interest in the diners experience.

                                        I have been happy to return after a bad meal to a few places where it was apparent that it was just a really off night, or that I had ordered a meal that simply wasn't to my (subjective) liking. In these instances the staff recognized that the experience was not going well and tried to rectify it.

                                        Places I will not try return to had every opportunity to rectify, but had absolutely no interest in doing so. Life is short, there are plenty of places trying hard and producing great food - I prefer to spend my time, dollar and calorie count with them!

                                        I post reviews as I would like to read them - an honest, factual report which takes into account any obvious circumstances which may have influenced the meal.

                                        1. For the most part, I don't even see the point of posting negative reviews. I come on here to find things that are bad, not to listen to people bitch about how terrible their last meal was. I am well aware that there are tons of bad restaurants out there.

                                          There are some local/regional places that I hate, which get recommended a lot by people not from the area, and I will chime in and disagree on those if they are brought up- but this is mostly a "don't go there, go here" type of deal.

                                          14 Replies
                                          1. re: Naco

                                            I can't count the number of bad meals I've had that I wish someone, somewhere had posted about to save me the bad experience.

                                            At the same time, I've posted about those joints and enough times get suggestions on the right items to order. Sometimes a place I thought just served swill based on one visit, turns into a favorite when pointed in the right direction, sand dabs and a few other items. It has become a senimental and culinary favorite of mine.

                                            Tadick Grill in SF is one of those that I learned about in my early Chowhound days. I despised it. Then I leared the thing to order was the cioppino,

                                            1. re: rworange

                                              Sure, but I find that it's hard to take most bad reviews seriously, as they are often made by people with slim-to-no posting history on here. If I see a bad review from someone who has a history of ferreting out good places and making informed comments in general, I take it more seriously. But at a fundamental level, I judge people by their positive contributions.

                                              1. re: Naco

                                                So if someone asks a question about xxx restaurant and you've had bad experiences there, you wouldn't talk about it? I tend to listen to balanced reviews, talking about both positives and negatives, including what was ordered, etc. over ones that are either gushing or completely negative. If there are legitimate negatives, I pay attention and find them useful.

                                                1. re: chowser

                                                  "There are some local/regional places that I hate, which get recommended a lot by people not from the area, and I will chime in and disagree on those if they are brought up- but this is mostly a "don't go there, go here" type of deal."

                                                  1. re: Naco

                                                    Not trying to change the way you post but just offering another thought.

                                                    I tend to discredit someone who posts only positive stuff as much as someone who is all negative. It will take me a long, long time before I take that person seriously. Yes, I know you offer comments on places you dislike when people are too chirpy about them.

                                                    There's a blogger in the SF Bay Area who is similar to yourself. She only posts about the good. She is actually quite good and goes to places neither Chowhounds nor yelpers go. She gets sooooo discredited by local chowhounds as someone who never ate a meal she didn't like.

                                                    Then again, I post about even the obscure and if it deserves it I will slam a place that it is unlikely anyone will go
                                                    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7037...

                                                    Ya never know if you are saving someone out there a few cents and
                                                    a bad bite. THere are too many good places out there that people should waste stomach real estate on the bad or medicore.

                                                    The only exception to my personal rules is I won't slam some little mom and pop in a truley obscure location. Seriously, no one is going to go there anyway and it just seems mean-spiritied to bash this type of joint.

                                                    1. re: rworange

                                                      It depends on the style of the poster for me. I try to be positive and flesh everything out well so every post doesn't come off like "ZOMG AWESOME", which I am pretty apt to ignore myself, just like I ignore the "I am a person, I DEMAND JUSTICE!!!" school of negative posting.

                                                      But as most of my posts deal with a small city and surrounding very rural areas, I'm a little disconnected from much of the conversation anyway. That doesn't bother me, and it doesn't bother me if people ignore my posts. I suspect most will, just by dint of where I'm located. I registered on here because I saw that there were tons and tons of small Mexican restaurants popping up in my corner of the South, and practically no information about any of them online or anywhere else. I just wanted to make a small dent in that. I suspect it's a very small group of people who have any interest in taquerias in eastern North Carolina anyway, so I don't give much thought to how much weight my voice has in the broader community. It is what it is, and scouting out new places and posting is its own reward for me.

                                                      If the Chowhound/Yelp folks in your area ignore someone who is constantly scouting out new things on the basis that she never posts negative comments, that's their loss. You can lead a horse to water...

                                                      1. re: Naco

                                                        True. I've had some great tips from that blogger.

                                                        Glad to hear you are posting about a small city and surrounding rural areas.s Those type of posts are like gold.

                                                        There's a zillion people posting about the metro areas and hot spots. However, when I'm traveling I want to kiss those people like yourself who offer up info on places few people, if any, bother writing about.

                                                        1. re: Naco

                                                          That's a good point about the type of location we post from, too. In a big metropolitan city, with thousands of restaurants, the negatives, as long as they are helpful, can help narrow down from a large list of recommended restaurants. In a smaller area, just getting a good recommendation is helpful in finding a great place to eat. I've been thinking of this from a large city perspective which is where I'm from--if everyone on the board (going into the hundred) only posted positive reviews about places, every place would be recommended. However, if I'm visiting a smaller area, and look for a good place there, it is very helpful to get reviews like yours.

                                                    2. re: chowser

                                                      One avenue that I find helpful is when you may have frequented a place years ago out of your area and the food and service was always good. In the years in between a lot of things can change. When I see a bunch of negative reviews I'm saddened that the food and service has gone downhill but relieved that someone warned me as to their current state.

                                                      Many fantastic restaurants have disappeared but some bad ones just linger on forever.

                                                      1. re: SanityRemoved

                                                        That's so true. Restaurants change so quickly that even reviews from a year ago can be inaccurate but it's sad to read about the decline of an old favorite.

                                                        I guess part of what I'm thinking about, if negative reviews were never posted, is that people would think Cheesecake Factory is the best place around and that's certainly not true.

                                                        1. re: chowser

                                                          Why would they think that? It's a monstrous chain whose raison d'etre is five-pound slices of cake and decor that's Late Imperial Ferengi. I start with the assumption that people on Chowhound are over that sort of place.

                                                          1. re: Naco

                                                            If you read the threads on the Cheesecake Factory and took out the negative reviews, you'd end up with the idea that it was a great place to eat.

                                                            1. re: chowser

                                                              No, I wouldn't, because it's on the "Chains" board.

                                                              1. re: Naco

                                                                I meant "you" in the general sense. But, regardless, my point is that if only positive reviews were posted, one wouldn't get a true sense of a restaurant.

                                              2. The chefs I know DO read our local board.

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: pikawicca

                                                  Cool. Glad to hear it. I hope they read other places too.

                                                  Then again, they'd be silly not to read online reviews in this century and choose to live in a vacuum.

                                                2. Looks like there was a bit of a smackdown on the Southeast board a little while ago... a "disappointed" review followed by a response from the restaurant owner.

                                                  http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7191...

                                                  16 Replies
                                                  1. re: truman

                                                    I don't call that a smack down; the restaurant owner was the epitome of professionalism and civility. I think it was overkill for the OP posted to slam a restaurant that served an apparently good meal because she thought the beer service was wrong and the owner left. What gives?

                                                    1. re: mcf

                                                      Only a three-time poster by the way.

                                                      1. re: mcf

                                                        sounds like a great restaurant to me. :)

                                                        1. re: soupkitten

                                                          I thought so, too.

                                                      2. re: truman

                                                        It's responses like that from the owner than make me want to try out a place. It's customers like that that remind me I never want to be in the restaurant business.

                                                        1. re: chowser

                                                          Yer not kiddin'.

                                                          Folks like that are why my personal motto is "I hate everybody." ;-)

                                                        2. re: truman

                                                          Whoa ... the response is gone.

                                                          1. re: foiegras

                                                            I think it may be against the TOS.

                                                            1. re: mcf

                                                              The poster was not promoting his restaurant; he was offering a civil rebuttal of over-heated (IMO) criticism.

                                                              1. re: pikawicca

                                                                restaurateurs are not supposed to be able to respond at all, even in the civil and reasonable way (also imo) in which the poster on that thread did. shame to take down comments such as that one, which was so telling of how the situation actually transpired and the general high standards of the establishment. still, a rule's a rule, and just because the mod-shark passes its hapless prey by for a while. . . doesn't mean the prey won't go down. something to be said for consistency.

                                                                1. re: soupkitten

                                                                  I didn't realize that restaurant owners were not allow to respond to attacks. Makes no sense to me.

                                                                  1. re: pikawicca

                                                                    from "chowhound posting etiquette" rules for owners and "restaurant insiders":

                                                                    <<<
                                                                    You may post factual information in response to questions about the business or to correct misinformation. ("We are not open on Tuesdays." or "The mushrooms come from Oregon.").

                                                                    Please don't recommend your restaurant (as a rule of thumb, you should never be the first to mention your business in a thread), offer opinions on the quality of your products, use us for customer service purposes ("We're sorry you had a bad experience..."), post promotions ("Join us for our annual lasagna festival next week!"), invite people to come to your restaurant or argue back re: consumer opinions or experiences.

                                                                    We realize it's disheartening to see negative things said about your restaurant, but Chowhound prohibits customer service and "spin control". While there are many means for restaurants to message and engage their public, Chowhound is a rare bastion for pure consumer discussion. In the end, the dining enthusiasm we generate makes Chowhound a very good friend to this industry, and we ask commercial parties to help foster this environment by resisting the urge to join the fray.
                                                                    >>

                                                                2. re: pikawicca

                                                                  Hopefully those that read the OP after doing a search for the restaurant realize that it's a rather singular post from a three-time poster, and that one post does not a restaurant make.

                                                                  1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                    The post does have an air of 'Nothing can make me happy ... nothing I like better than being dissatisfied.'

                                                                  2. re: pikawicca

                                                                    I know, but I didn't write the TOS.

                                                                    1. re: mcf

                                                                      I had the pleasure of dining at Alex at the Wynn in Las Vegas twice over my last trip. The first time I had the "Taste of Wynn" menu. This is their cheapest meal and cost me around $100. Of course, everything was wonderful and I went on the Las Vegas board to post about "the best $100 meal of my life".

                                                                      On my subsequent visit I met the chef, Alex Stratta. I told him that I had dined there a few nights ago and had one of the best $100 meals of my life. Chef Stratta replied that he had read a post on Chowhound that said that and asked if it was me.

                                                                      You never know.

                                                            2. This response is not particularly regarding chowhound and diner responses here, but diner responses elsewhere. I see many more blatant slams and/or crying me, me, me "reviews" by 1 time reviewers on my local yelp and urbanspoon boards than I do one time "OMG!!!111! IT WaS thE RoXErs!!1!!11" except for the blatant shilling posts. And those two boards seem to get some cross-posts of the exact same slams.

                                                              I am not complaining about those two boards per se as I have gotten valuable information from both, but find people on CH much more ... circumspect in their reviews, even if things were not great. Some reviewers just feel so entitled to everything in the world. Whether the meal cost $10 or $200, it may make no difference to these people.

                                                              I sometimes post my mixed feelings about a place here, but rarely slam outright without at least a detailed explanation. As far as attempting to rectify an issue with the waiter or MOD when you are onsite, well sometimes that may not be an option. If a dish is inedible due to ingredients, I may send it back but sometimes I chalk it up to different tastes. If something is cooked med rather than med-rare, I tend to suck it up, but sometimes I send stuff back when it's appropriate. It really depends on my dining companions.