HOME > Chowhound > Not About Food >

When you just don't get why everyone else raves about a restaurant

t
three of us Jun 19, 2011 08:05 PM

I can feel truly baffled when a restaurant at which I've had poor food or service on several visits is lauded as a terrific place by almost eveyone else.

There is a local Italian place that has okay food and the most unpleasant hostesses we've ever met. We've gone and stood for 10 minutes while the hostesses gabbed and left us waiting without so much as a "be with you in a minute". Yet the reviews and raptures for this place are effusive in their praise of the food, serivce, ambience, etc.

Why don't we have that "amazing", "superb", "boffo" experience so many others have? We're nice people. We like pasta. Yet this kind of disconnect has us wondering if we are from different planet than our neighbors and community.

Maybe we eat better than most people and just didn't realize it. We're not so old as to be from a more formal, genteel generation yet we expect to be treated politely and professionally.

Have you ever encountered this?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
Delete
  1. e
    escondido123 RE: three of us Jun 19, 2011 09:16 PM

    Yes, I've usually encountered this in places that serve huge portions--there's a whole crowd that loves places just because they give you a lot of food, forget anything else.

    1. c
      cleobeach RE: three of us Jun 20, 2011 07:05 AM

      Yes.

      There is a very popular, established restaurant in my area. It has been in business two or three generations and the food really is quite good but the hostess/owner is a complete and total bit@h.

      For years, I thought it was just us but have come to learn she is nasty to many people. This is not a cheap place either, it is at the high end of the price range and people travel from far and wide to visit.

      We continue to visit a couple of times a year because the food is consistantly good and our friends like it. The hostess/owner's behavior has become a joke between us.

      1. inaplasticcup RE: three of us Jun 20, 2011 07:24 AM

        I usually experience this with high end chains. I'll go at the request of friends who really seem to soak up the see and be seen atmosphere, 20 dollar drinks and unusually attractive waitstaff. And since I'm at a place in my life where none of those things serves any purpose for me, I'd rather spend my dining out dollars at a place where the focus is on the food and an atmosphere conducive to the enjoyment of it.

        Different strokes, I guess. :)

        1. e
          ediblover RE: three of us Jun 20, 2011 02:37 PM

          On the subject, it's important to distinguish between the truly baffling (you can't understand what's going on) and understandable differences (You understand why someone else likes it, but don't agree).

          In the case of the hostess, my first guess would be that the reviewers just aren't all that experienced. If you've eaten nothing but McDonald's, Burger King and frozen grocery patty burgers all your life and a 5 Guys moves in, you're going to think 5G has the best burger in the world. Same with service. For those that haven't experienced truly outstanding service, a mediocre one may seen like the norm/pinnacle.

          5 Replies
          1. re: ediblover
            t
            tastesgoodwhatisit RE: ediblover Jun 23, 2011 03:04 AM

            Yeah, differing expectations and experience can make a big difference. If you have no idea what authentic Thai food tastes like, you may rave about a mediocre Thai restaurant because it's new to you, and you don't know how much better it gets. And if you're used to getting fast food from surly teenagers, a restaurant where they refill your water glass unasked comes as a pleasant surprise. And someone who values ambience, or portion size, or cheapness, over quality food will have very different favourites than most people on this board.

            The restaurant chain that baffles me is Cheesecake Factory. The food's not bad, but it's nothing particularly special, and comes in portions that could feed a small family for a week. The one I used to live near didn't take reservations, and wouldn't add you to the list until your whole party was there, at which point you generally spent an hour standing on the sidewalk in SoCal heat until you got in. And some people just loved the place - I never got it. In the time it took to get into the restaurant and get your food, I could make something at home that tasted better and was healthier.

            The other one that confuses me is the generic Chinese buffet. It's all you can eat and cheap, sure, but the food is generally seriously sub par. And a good portion of the food is about as Chinese as I am.

            1. re: tastesgoodwhatisit
              sunshine842 RE: tastesgoodwhatisit Jun 23, 2011 03:22 AM

              ...exactly why I avoid Chinese buffets. There's one notable exception near us -- there's a steady stream of refills being brought from the kitchen during the meal service, so things are hot and fresh most of the time, but yes -- most of the time all-you-can-eat buffets are a study in mediocre, lukewarm stuff to just fill a hole when you're broke and starving.

              1. re: sunshine842
                Bill Hunt RE: sunshine842 Jun 23, 2011 10:02 PM

                Whoa, "Chinese buffet," like McDonald's Burger King, Coco's, and a "jab in the eye with a sharp stick," all carry about the same weight, and the same warnings.

                Hunt

                1. re: Bill Hunt
                  sunshine842 RE: Bill Hunt Jun 23, 2011 10:56 PM

                  Haven't been in a BK in eons, have no idea what Coco's is, and McD here in Europe can actually manage "not too bad" on occasion.

                  Haven't paid money for a poke in the eye with a sharp stick lately (nor tried to munch on one)

                  1. re: sunshine842
                    Bill Hunt RE: sunshine842 Jun 24, 2011 07:19 PM

                    With that group, you are not missing anything, though my last experience with any probably goes back 30 years. Maybe they ARE better now, but somehow, I just cannot imagine it.

                    Hunt

          2. s
            S_K RE: three of us Jun 20, 2011 03:08 PM

            YES! I don't talk too much about that to the people that love the place. There's a restaurant that I HATE and most people love. It's not even Thai food even though it calls itself Thai food. BLEH!!! Terrible service. Big portions. Inauthentic, some places just pour sugar over Chinese food and then call it Thai but that doesn't make it Thai. But everyone thinks it's the best thing ever. I do think this is because people are not very educated about the food there and that it is the portions they love.

            1. j
              Johnny L RE: three of us Jun 21, 2011 01:37 AM

              There is a taco truck near my house that serves nasty tacos but people flock there like crazy, in fact most people love it.

              I suspect its because most people have no clue what a real taco truck int his rich suburb is and what good tacos taste like. Also this is the only taco truck within 10 miles.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Johnny L
                Bill Hunt RE: Johnny L Jun 23, 2011 10:04 PM

                Hey, it's a truck, and trucks are hot. Otherwise, there would not be three shows about food trucks on TV.

                Give them a few weeks, and something else will be hot, with Brittany Spears touting it, and they will forget food trucks for whatever.

                Hunt

              2. i
                Isolda RE: three of us Jun 21, 2011 05:08 AM

                I'm not sure it's always ignorance that causes people to love a place that I find mediocre. For example, there's a pizza place near us that specializes in organic, locally sourced everything (goat's cheese, mozarella, organic local tomatoes, organic everything, whole wheat crusts, microbrews, you get it). In theory, I should really love this place. Everyone else does, including people on these boards. But I have never had a good pizza there. I use similar ingredients when making homemade pizza, but somehow the way this restaurant prepares them doesn't work for me.

                I'm not ignorant; neither are the reviewers who love this place. Sometimes, it really is a matter of taste, and there's just no accounting for that.

                1 Reply
                1. re: Isolda
                  Bill Hunt RE: Isolda Jun 23, 2011 10:07 PM

                  I find that many will totally ignore their tastes, so long as a restaurant pushes the buttons for their various agendas. Hit the right chords in the marketing, and they will flock there, regardless of what their palate tells them - it's the right thing to do.

                  Hunt

                2. steakman55 RE: three of us Jun 21, 2011 03:49 PM

                  The older one gets, the less crap one has to ingest. We get more sure of ourselves and don't necessarily care what others think. I don't care for tiny portions of fru-fru food. I don't want my food stacked up artistically. I don't want "foam" on my food. I also don't like standard portions to be so huge, even though I am a "good eater" who sometimes wants a 14 oz steak. But enough with the 10 oz. burgers, stacked food, desserts with foam that look like someone spit on them, and haughty service. I'm eating here and can afford to pay your high prices; not working here serving others. Recognize the dynamics here. I will treat you with respect and tip well and I ask for good service, information when asked, prices, and a pleasant demeanor.

                  10 Replies
                  1. re: steakman55
                    sunshine842 RE: steakman55 Jun 21, 2011 04:00 PM

                    *claps and whistles*
                    My sentiments exactly.

                    1. re: steakman55
                      Godslamb RE: steakman55 Jun 21, 2011 04:24 PM

                      Bravo! :) Well said steakman!
                      On a side note, isn't it great that we all have different tastes and norms? Otherwise we would all eat crackers while sitting on a park bench while someone yells in our ear. LOL

                      1. re: steakman55
                        i
                        Isolda RE: steakman55 Jun 22, 2011 10:41 AM

                        +1 on the foam. I just don't get it. And I especially dislike it when nothing on the menu indicates even the remote possibility of foam and you get it anyway. We were eating at a very nice, well-regarded restaurant in Charleston, SC, a farm to table place with reasonable portions and prices. I'd had a great starter (charred octopus), but when my main came, it had foam! What? There was nothing to indicate this place had pretensions to molecular gastronomy, and yet, there it was. The meal was still delicious and I forgave them. DH jokingly asked the server if he could have a small take-out box for the foam, though.

                        1. re: Isolda
                          sunshine842 RE: Isolda Jun 22, 2011 12:20 PM

                          Foam in France is called 'espuma', which somehow sounds like it requires a good dose of antibiotics to be rid of.

                          I find it repulsive no matter what.

                          1. re: sunshine842
                            k
                            kpaxonite RE: sunshine842 Jun 22, 2011 03:18 PM

                            Never seen it called that in France...its a spanish word

                            1. re: kpaxonite
                              sunshine842 RE: kpaxonite Jun 23, 2011 01:16 AM

                              doesn't matter what language the word is from -- I have several years' worth of cooking magazines (different titles, different publishers) that call it that, and Cuisine TV is forever rattling on about espumas.

                              It still sounds like a communicable disease.

                              1. re: sunshine842
                                u
                                Uncle Yabai RE: sunshine842 Jul 17, 2011 06:40 PM

                                Espuma is Spanish for "foam". If it sounds like a communicable disease to you, then you've got other issues to deal with.

                                1. re: Uncle Yabai
                                  inaplasticcup RE: Uncle Yabai Jul 17, 2011 06:53 PM

                                  I speak Spanish and espuma still sounds funny to me. :P

                                  1. re: Uncle Yabai
                                    sunshine842 RE: Uncle Yabai Jul 18, 2011 12:59 AM

                                    I speak Spanish, so never had a single question about the origin of the word. Your point was?

                          2. re: steakman55
                            Bill Hunt RE: steakman55 Jun 23, 2011 10:11 PM

                            Actually, I am also much older, BUT I do like the smaller portions, so long as what I get is great.

                            Do not mean to shoot down your post, just because I have an issue with one tiny part of it.

                            The rest? Well I agree, and do not take "stuff" from anyone. I know what I like, and also expect what I pay for.

                            Hunt

                          3. linguafood RE: three of us Jun 23, 2011 04:06 AM

                            There's an Italian place in the neighborhood where we were staying recently that is ALWAYS packed. You can't get in without a rez, and for brunch on Sunday, they don't even take rezzies b/c it's on a first come first serve basis, and the place is packed to the rafters by 10 a.m. (I would not know this if it weren't for friends and acquaintances who get up waay earlier than I do).

                            It's another one of those 'locally-sourced, regional produce, happy meat" type o'place that is just as popular in Germany these days as it is in the US. I have no beef with that, as long as people turn out great food.

                            While I haven't eaten there, each time I've walked by and glanced at the plates, the paste always looked incredibly 'meh'. Yes, I know - seeing ain't tasting, but.... none of it looked like anything I couldn't make at home MUCH better, and better looking, if I may add.

                            Sometimes a place just gets a rep, and people buy into it forever.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: linguafood
                              sunshine842 RE: linguafood Jun 23, 2011 10:54 AM

                              that's such a shame -- particularly because really incredible Italian is pretty easy to find in your home region, Lingua!

                              (Trattoria Abruzzese del Carmine in Cologne is one of them)

                              1. re: sunshine842
                                linguafood RE: sunshine842 Jun 24, 2011 03:09 AM

                                oh, and there are plenty of fabulous italian restaurants in berlin as well. it's just that those kids drank the kool-aid, i guess.

                                ironically enough, one door next to us was a similarly hip resto owned by italian punks, with simple but seriously awesome renditions of paste classiche - puttanesca, aglio é olio, etc. - you get the picture. cheap, too.

                            2. Chinon00 RE: three of us Jun 23, 2011 05:37 AM

                              Are you talking about people raving whom you know and whose tastes you respect or just the public at large? I don't recall being severely let down by a friend's suggestion WHO IS INTO FOOD.
                              And I know for some bad or rude service can ruin their meal. I'm not really like that. If what's on the plate is good it's a good restaurant. The service is a different issue. It has to really be bad for me to take off points for the place (e.g. an hour between courses) unless the place is a fine dining restaurant. There service is supposed to be part of the experience.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: Chinon00
                                i
                                Isolda RE: Chinon00 Jun 23, 2011 04:48 PM

                                No, no, no! I'm talking about places my "foodie" friends like, and I dislike. I'm pretty sure that's what the OP was getting at, too, or we'd all be complaining people who love chains, and this would be a deadly dull discussion.

                              2. Bill Hunt RE: three of us Jun 23, 2011 09:59 PM

                                I feel your pain.

                                I frequent several boards. One is where I have now lived of 14 years, one is basically my hometown, and where we visit 2 - 3 times per year, as the family is still there. The last is an area, that we have visited a couple of times a year, though as it is a group of islands, we have not done each island, and every side, on each visit over the last few decades.

                                I see many "sacred cow," and have dined at all, with some, many times. When I see some regulars touting these locations, I flat cringe. Often, they preface their glowing recs. with "but they have US $ 0.25 martinis. OK, if the food is horrible, and the service is inattentive, but they offer you UA $ 0.25 martinis, you will sell your soul?

                                Some do not bother to even offer the cheap martini, or fill in the blank ____. They just are loud, and get a lot of folk, who do not know good food, or service, and because they ARE loud, and expensive, get great reviews. To me, one should expect both food and service on a rising scale, based on expense. Now, many of my regular dinners are in the upper-tiers of price, but I want to experience every aspect at that level, and not just my check.

                                I often sit, and puzzle, when poster A recommends restaurant B, and we have had three very bad meals there. I ask, "what ARE they thinking? Have they NEVER had a good meal in their lives?"

                                I've seen places, without the US $ 0.25 martinis, get a bunch of 100's, and over three visits, I'd have given them maybe a 20, out of 100. What the heck is happening? Maybe it's just that I expect something for my $, or perhaps that we have a classic case of "The Emperor's New Clothes," and some shill in the media has enticed others into loving something, that is not THAT special? That, or I am just crazy, and do not know food, or wines.

                                I have no issue spearing those "sacred cows," but will try to give some another chance. When they fail again, I am much less accommodating, and judge very harshly on the 3rd, or 4th visit.

                                Hunt

                                1. j
                                  jhopp217 RE: three of us Jun 23, 2011 11:31 PM

                                  It's taken me a long time to read people when it comes to their reviews of restaurants and there are some places I will not step foot in if certain people say it is good. Good means, you're in and out in 30 minutes, the portions are large, nothing is seasoned and the waiter kissed their butt. Sadly, this is a good dining experience for most.

                                  A perfect example is I know someone who got a gift card and went to Morton's for free. Now regardless of your opinion of Morton's steaks (some are incredible, some are average), the service is 99% of the time amazing. They also let you enjoy the experience, because they understand, for most, this is not an every week occurence. I love the place. They do their shtick and its nice to feel special. The food is very good, the service is always attentive and the price is what you would expect. The wait, is usually a minute or two and your dining experience is never less than an hour and a half. You get a nice night out. Well these people came back and said the steak was a little dry (they both got it well done). The service was too attentive and they kept asking us if we wanted anything. They didn't drink. The prices were outrageous. It was free. And the meal took forever. They said they were in and out in less than an hour. I didn't know this was possible. They said they'd never go back. I was clueless.

                                  Here's my feeling about your experience. IF the Hostess did that, I'd get her attention. If she continued to ignore me, I'd walk out and call the manager the next day and tell them we were testing the place because we wanted to throw a party of 30-40 people there, but will have to go elsewhere because of what happened.

                                  Then there's the food. I refuse to go out for Italian for the most part, because I don't cook that often, or incredibly, but I can make better pasta dishes than most restaurants at home, for a quarter fo the price. If I'm going out for Italian, I always order seafood dishes. As long as they don't overcook them, the worst that can happen is that the sauces aren't great, but the fish should be decent anyway.

                                  I find you're normally treated much better at the place everyone tells you negative things about than those you hear glowing recommendations. too often that glowing recommendation comes when it's someone's birthay or anniversary and they could have eaten dog food after a two hour wait and raved about it, ahha.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: jhopp217
                                    t
                                    three of us RE: jhopp217 Jun 24, 2011 07:07 PM

                                    I wouldn't feel right telling the manager I was scoping the place out for a large gathering. We just don't go there. And I hear you about making better Italian at home than in most restaurants.

                                  2. s
                                    S_K RE: three of us Jun 24, 2011 06:54 AM

                                    Does anyone ever find that people don't give you as attentive service if you look young in certain restaurants? When my husband and I go to certain restaurants, we don't get quite the same treatment as other people if we are in a fine dining restaurant catering to a slightly older looking (at that particular moment in time) crowd (this is vs. casual family dining)--service is slower, people take forever to get to us even though we've folded our menus and are waiting, we don't ask for substitutions, anything extra either. Maybe we are going at the wrong times, what do you think?

                                    17 Replies
                                    1. re: S_K
                                      inaplasticcup RE: S_K Jun 24, 2011 07:30 AM

                                      I think that happens. I think it used to happen to me. I guess I don't look so youthful anymore. Kekeke... :)

                                      1. re: inaplasticcup
                                        s
                                        S_K RE: inaplasticcup Jun 24, 2011 08:41 AM

                                        At least I don't get carded anymore, I remember feeling insulted the first few months after it stopped happening though. Hehe.

                                        1. re: S_K
                                          sunshine842 RE: S_K Jun 24, 2011 03:12 PM

                                          I got carded in my late 30s....made my WEEK.

                                          (no makeup, ponytail, shorts and a teeshirt)

                                          1. re: sunshine842
                                            s
                                            S_K RE: sunshine842 Jun 24, 2011 03:54 PM

                                            AWESOME, I bet you have amazing skin!

                                            1. re: sunshine842
                                              gaffk RE: sunshine842 Jun 24, 2011 04:03 PM

                                              I was in my forties . . . and the server quickly followed with "Oh my god, you're older than my mom!" And no, I do not look that young (although perhaps I just had my gray roots touched up).

                                          2. re: inaplasticcup
                                            t
                                            three of us RE: inaplasticcup Jun 24, 2011 07:05 PM

                                            I remember the first time I got "Ma'am-ed". A restaurant host was trying to get my attention to say our table was ready. I never associated "Ma'am" with me! I chuckle about it now, but back then I was somewhat curious why this man was addressing me as such!

                                            1. re: three of us
                                              Bill Hunt RE: three of us Jun 24, 2011 08:09 PM

                                              Now, you have got to cut a touch of "slack" with the "ma'am" thing. Gentlemen from the Deep South, will likely use that term, though you might well be in your teens, or early 20's, and they in their 50's or 60's. It can well be a geo-social thing.

                                              I have had some younger, female clients, who took umbridge to my referring to them as "ma'am," but after I held a few doors, stood and pulled out their chairs at lunch, and hailed the first cab for them, soon got over it.

                                              Enjoy being "ma'ma-ed." [Grin]

                                              Hunt

                                              1. re: Bill Hunt
                                                t
                                                three of us RE: Bill Hunt Jun 26, 2011 11:13 AM

                                                My 13 year old Bostonian son is in Memphis for a national basketball tourney and commented to me how nice everyone is. Being raised to say please and thank you, he said he's already fallen into the habit of adding "ma'am" and "sir"!

                                                1. re: three of us
                                                  Bill Hunt RE: three of us Jun 26, 2011 09:01 PM

                                                  Personally, I see that as a good thing, but you must remember, I am "a son of the Old South," so it would figure. Hope that the tournament goes well.

                                                  Hunt

                                                  1. re: Bill Hunt
                                                    sunshine842 RE: Bill Hunt Jun 26, 2011 10:52 PM

                                                    along with addressing one's elders as "Miz Sunshine" or "Mister Bill". I like that one, too -- still respectful, but not as formal as "Mr. Hunt"

                                                    1. re: sunshine842
                                                      Bill Hunt RE: sunshine842 Jun 27, 2011 07:31 PM

                                                      Now, THAT is music to my ears, being a "son of the Old South." Do not hear such very often, nowadays. A graciousness that has disappeared.

                                                      But then, sort of the same thing could be said for too many restaurants - not much graciousness. Too much is taken for granted - the patrons will always folk here, no matter how badly we treat them.

                                                      Hunt

                                                      1. re: Bill Hunt
                                                        sunshine842 RE: Bill Hunt Jun 28, 2011 01:54 AM

                                                        I'm Yankee by birth, but spent my entire adult life in the South...and my kids STILL call people "Miz" and "Mister" -- even here in Europe. Ingrained.

                                                        1. re: sunshine842
                                                          Bill Hunt RE: sunshine842 Jun 28, 2011 08:00 PM

                                                          Yes, that sort of habit does follow one around quit a bit.

                                                          Though I have not lived in the Deep South in 3 decades, I find myself doing just that. Folk in Phoenix look at me oddly, but do not say much.

                                                          Hunt

                                          3. re: S_K
                                            Bill Hunt RE: S_K Jun 24, 2011 08:02 PM

                                            Unfortunately, I have not looked "young" in so long, that I cannot remember how I was treated.

                                            Now, and at my advanced age, I find the treatment to be across the board. Some places, I assume that they have mistaken me for royalty, and at others, I insist that they believe me to be a homeless person, about to panhandle their good clients. It just depends.

                                            In general terms, I am dressed about the same at each end of that spectrum, so it is not a "dress for success" sort of thing. My wife maintains that some folk are just "genetically surly," and when it comes to restaurants, I think that she is 100% on target. Some restaurants are welcoming, while some are just off-putting. I have not found any correlation between the cost of the meal, the neighborhood, or any other factor that I can detect. Some restaurants just love their patrons, and wish to serve them, and others just hate any patron, and could care less.

                                            In Rome last month, we stopped into a completely deserted trattoria, that otherwise, looked good. All tables, but one in the very back was "reserved," so we moved on. Around the corner, was a busy little restaurant, but they moved a table around, and seated us. We spent a lovely lunch, and laughed with the owner and his family, and drank, plus dined on great food. On the way back, we passed the trattoria, and it only had two patrons, and all those "reserved tables" were still empty. Maybe those reservations were for after 3:00PM?

                                            I am sorry that you feel discriminated against. That should not happen - age, social status, gender, anything. So long as one is gentile, pays the bill, adheres to any dress code, they should receive the best that the restaurant has to offer. After all, it's referred to as the "hospitality industry" for a reason.

                                            Only wish that I could recall how it was, when I was young... [Grin]

                                            Hunt

                                            1. re: Bill Hunt
                                              gaffk RE: Bill Hunt Jun 25, 2011 05:08 PM

                                              Oh Hunt, I hope you meant "genteel" and not "gentile." Otherwise many on this site would never get a good meal ;)

                                              1. re: gaffk
                                                Bill Hunt RE: gaffk Jun 25, 2011 06:18 PM

                                                Uh, well, I blame it on Spell-checker. That's what I get for mis-spelling in the first place,and then clicking on Replace. Duh!

                                                Thanks for that correction.

                                                Hunt - note to self - do not trust Spell-checker again... [Grin]

                                                1. re: Bill Hunt
                                                  gaffk RE: Bill Hunt Jun 25, 2011 08:47 PM

                                                  I still stalk you ;}

                                          4. cosmogrrl RE: three of us Jun 26, 2011 02:36 PM

                                            I live in San Francisco and there are many places that people swoon over that I just don't like or I think the food is just meh. It's not that they have bad service or even bad food; I just don't like it. And there are many places that I think are over hyped, yeah I'm looking at you Zuni Cafe! There are other places as well. There are other places as well that my friends are gaga about that I'm just not impressed with. It's not that i am not adventurous, or that I am to old school to appreciate it, I just haven't been thrilled with some of these new trendy places.

                                            I am getting to an age where I want to be treated politely and professionally. If i et anything else, I'm out the door never to return. I don't care how cool you are, because I'm cooler ;) (no not really).

                                            And to the OP, no it's not you, it's them.

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: cosmogrrl
                                              Bill Hunt RE: cosmogrrl Jun 26, 2011 09:09 PM

                                              It depends on the board, but I am often the very same.

                                              There are some restaurants that strike a chord with certain folk, and that's good. I, on the other hand, find nothing to really enjoy in some. A few are OK in my book, but nothing that I would ever recommend to others, unless they had a very special set of criteria. Then, there are some that are just plain bad - could be the FOH, the service, or maybe everything. A few on my local board get grand recs., and I would never dine there again, except when we are guests and I have zero control. In several cases, I have never paid for a meal, but still find them to be not worth the hours of the evening, or the calories.

                                              In the end, I guess that it is a very personal thing, at least it is with me. If I recommend a restaurant, it is because they have impressed me. Then I see recs. for places, and just scratch my head. In the words of the title of the post, assume that I have always missed something.

                                              Hunt

                                            2. r
                                              rasputina RE: three of us Jun 26, 2011 03:12 PM

                                              I've learned that certain people, like my parents generally have very different tastes than I do.

                                              1. Harmy RE: three of us Jun 26, 2011 11:30 PM

                                                This usually happens to me at local, family dining restaurants. You know, the kind that hires a bunch of girls from the local high school track team and is good for large families with small children. I think my friend liked it because their little brothers got balloons, and fair is fair: it's great to see your siblings happy, and a touch like that can really affect how you perceive a restaurant.

                                                The instance I'm talking about is Pasta Fair, in Orange, CT -- when I went with my parents, we got seated in a drafty corner, were summarily ignored, and eventually got served three platters of no-longer-warm pasta with sauce + things in the sauce + bits of processed meat. Seriously.

                                                1. j
                                                  josephnl RE: three of us Jul 5, 2011 11:27 AM

                                                  Are you kidding? Disagreeing with others about whether a restaurant is great or not happens regularly on this site. I can think of several restaurants in southern CA that other knowledgeable CH's adore, and which I absolutely detest...and vice versa! It generally has little to do with how knowledgeable or sophisticated a diner one may be, and everything to do about taste and priorities when dining out (I like relatively quiet restaurants with great food and service, whereas to others it's entirely about the food). Indeed someone on this site said he doesn't care if he's treated like "crap" as long as the food is great! Not me!!

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: josephnl
                                                    Bill Hunt RE: josephnl Jul 5, 2011 06:47 PM

                                                    For me, it is about the total experience, but the food does get the largest portion of my attention. Still, if the food is good, but everything else is bad, then I am not sure that I would go back. I want the entire experience, but will try to give an accurate review of the food, in those "otherwise" establishments.

                                                    Maybe I have become more jaded, in my old age, but I can no longer overlook glaring problems, like I once could - too many great restaurants (all around), and too little time.

                                                    Just my observations,

                                                    Hunt

                                                    PS - as cited, there are some restaurants, that I just do not get, and also several that have been in the high 90's for me, that other loathe. Stuff happens.

                                                  2. dave_c RE: three of us Jul 5, 2011 11:51 AM

                                                    I suspect that most review sites lean heavily towards positive reviews since people with negative reviews won't bother posting, unless they were truly offended. Most people just want to wash their hand of the experience and move on.

                                                    3 Replies
                                                    1. re: dave_c
                                                      Bill Hunt RE: dave_c Jul 5, 2011 07:02 PM

                                                      You could be correct, but then I seem to see the reviews mixed about - good, bad and in between. When relying on some, I often will do a bit of research on some of the posters. Most are just writing details of how the events went down. However, there have been a few, who had a major "ax to grind," and their posting history often gave that away.

                                                      Going back some years, I was looking for high-end restaurants in the SoCal Coastal area. Each had a major negative review, but they were from the same person. In each, the portion sizes were decried, as were the prices. Each was listed as a horrible restaurant, to which that poster would never return. Their posts stuck out. Each was totally negative. I researched that poster, and found that almost all of their posts were the same, and often were Copy/Pastes from many others. Their only positive reviews were for one small restaurant, in that general area. There, the reviews were all 100%. I found that odd, as the panned restaurants were not in any category, similar to their beloved restaurant. At first, I thought they were a plant, but finally decided that if the bill was above about US $ 20, then the restaurant was horrible, and that they had found their ideal, in that one smaller restaurant. Still, if I had not spent a few hours of research, and had just looked at reviews, I might have missed some great restaurants, due to one reviewer, with a grudge.

                                                      For me, it's easier on CH, as I have come to trust certain posters, in different boards. When visiting a new board, I am at the mercy of the various respondents, but it's usually not difficult to find out who really knows their "stuff," and the casual respondent, who just dropped by the thread. With a bit of research, one can start assigning points to a few posters, who have previously reviewed restaurants near-by, and picked up on the same things that I want to know.

                                                      On many sites, it is much more difficult to identify the reviewers. I still fill in most reviews on OT, and TripAdvisor, but spend much more time here.

                                                      For me, I also try to give a poster a bit of my "frame of reference," so that they can discount my recs., or might trust them. In the end, it is about trying to help other CH's, find exactly what they are looking for, regardless if it's the mainstream, or something esoteric.

                                                      To me, CH is my "go-to" source for recs. and details. Other sites are secondary.

                                                      Hunt

                                                      1. re: dave_c
                                                        sunshine842 RE: dave_c Jul 6, 2011 01:19 AM

                                                        I tend to take reviews with a rather large grain of salt (and in fact don't even read them most of the time).

                                                        Reviews are usually written in the heat of passion -- from one of two scenarios:

                                                        a) the meal has started off on the wrong foot and gone downhill from there -- the reviewer is pissed, and wants to tell the world what dirty/incompetent bozos run this joke of an excuse for a restaurant and why no one else should darken the door.

                                                        b) everything has gone fabulously, the heavens have opened, shining a golden light on the reviewer's table while choruses of angels sing. The world MUST know about this ethereal experience.

                                                        The other usual instance is that the reviewer has some financial stake in the review -- he (using the old-school grammatical propriety of "he" for an unknown person) will benefit if good reviews drive people to the restaurant, or he's involved in a competing restaurant that will benefit if the place in question gets a bad name.

                                                        People just don't generally write reviews about places where their expectations were met...the prices, quality, and service were just about what they expected, so there's really nothing to complain or rave about. (there are always a few, but they're usually few and far between).

                                                        1. re: sunshine842
                                                          Bill Hunt RE: sunshine842 Jul 6, 2011 09:48 PM

                                                          Sunshine,

                                                          You make some good points. On many sites, especially those limited in characters, I see a ton of either your A, or your B.

                                                          Here, folk seem more inclined to do reviews, regardless of the ultimate decision/impression. I know that I do - the good, the bad and the ugly. In honesty, that should be the great, the good, the not-so-good, and the horrible. Normally, I am less inclined to do a review of the latter, and will try to be as objective, as I possibly can. Unfortunately, and unlike a professional restaurant critic, I seldom get to do 3+ visits, prior to taking fingers to keys. Often, I will review a half-dozen restaurants in a city, and my critiques fall, where I found them. Could have just been "the night from hell," and I might well never know about that. I just try to list what we encountered, and let it go at that.

                                                          Hunt

                                                      2. j
                                                        jvanderh RE: three of us Jul 7, 2011 05:28 PM

                                                        I am shocked by how often I go eat in a restaurant I expected to love and walk away thinking I will never step foot in here again. It doesn't just happen with urbanspoon stuff, either, it happens all the time on Chowhound. Often, the person has given a detailed description of the meal and seems to have good taste and no ulterior motives. There must be some night-to-night variation, but often it's hard to reconcile someone else's glowing review with my across-the-board negative experience. I've completely given up on our Little Italy-- it seems to have been subsisting on reputation and nostalgia for the past couple of decades.

                                                        Show Hidden Posts