Eater.Com: Shill Alert
Sad to see how low this site has sunk in the past year (specifically, the New York City site)...it used to be amusing and it did a nice job exposing shilling on various sites. Now it has become a restaurant industry publicity mouthpiece (in the guise of sounding snarky or insider-informed)...
I go to Eater for restaurant news (what's about to open, who's getting sued, etc.), which I think they do pretty well. Not so much for unbiased recommendations; they've never really been good at that. I like some of the columns - Who Goes There? in particular - but all the review-esque posts read like "OMG thanx 4 all teh free food u guyz rock OMG & u look hawt also LOLOL." Ok, not exactly, but that was fun to write.
I don't fault them for it. I doubt they have they have the budget to pay for reviewers' meals, even if they wanted to, which they probably don't, because why go head-to-head with the newspapers already covering this territory? And the downward trajectory is (or seems to be) unavoidable. I watched Daily Candy devolve from "here's a cool new thing we found" to "here's a cool new press release someone sent us."
re: small h
"Who Goes There" hasn't been on for quite a while and I don't think "Brooks of Sheffield" writes for them anymore, which I too regret...I agree that reviews aren't their strong point but I just feel they moved into another zone (good-looking-chefs-on-board, etc)...their coverage of restaurant openings almost always favors the big-names...used to be somewhat different.
re: penthouse pup
The latest three "Who Goes There?" columns are dated 4/29, 4/15 & 4/1, so it seems like it runs twice a month, and we'll see another one around 5/15. I don't dispute that some seriously weird elements have been introduced (chefs with puppies?). But just for fun, I spot checked the Plywood Report at four month intervals to see whether it concentrates more on big names now than in the past. It doesn't look like it. See?
I noticed the shilling when Andrew Carmellini was opening the Dutch. Eater covered the opening from the day the lease was signed to the very day it opened and labeling the Dutch one of the top 15 "Closer Restaurants (Want to seal the deal on your next date?)" on it's SECOND day of being open.