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Jul 12, 2011 01:21 AM

Vegans and Restaurant Reviews

I was browsing Yelp reviews for a bakery and saw an one-star review for the bakery among mostly three and four stars. It was from a vegan, and the summary of her review was "When they first opened, I popped in and asked if they had anything vegan. They smiled and waved me on." This is a bakery with a word "butter" in its name, BTW. So I clicked on the poster's profile and saw she had given a whole bunch of one and two stars that didn't accommodate vegans. Even at places she'd never eaten, such as the aforementioned bakery, "no vegan choices" and she would simply give the business one star. I know it shouldn't have (it's only internet) but it did bother me - I know how influential Yelp can be (most everyone I know checks it before heading somewhere for a meal) and I didn't think it was fair for her to give the business one star, thus bringing down the average (significantly, if the place only has few reviews) simply because the business didn't accommodate vegans. Especially because a lot of people only look at the stars. On the other hand, it *is* her opinion and I can't say it's not valid, obviously.

I brought it here to see what other 'hounds think about it - what do you think?

Edited to add - it could be any special diet, this is not specifically about vegans.

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  1. Yeah, well, people are idiots. Kind of like complaining about a suburban hotel because it's "too far from the city" or a 300 year old hotel because "the bathroom was tiny". That's why I always read the things to see if the reason for a low score is *my* reason for a low score. I guess it's lucky that the person at least explained herself.

    1. I once saw a one star review of a Thai place because the poster never had Thai food before and didn't know it would be spicy. People are idiots.

      1. It's stupid. Unfortunately, every rating system/site has it's pros/cons and not many ways to remedy the cons. In this case, one can hope that others will have more sense (and actually eat the food before submitting a review).

        That said, if a person relies on reviews for a bakery, then I've little respect for the person. It's a bakery. Unless it's specialized (such as wedding cakes), you can get a piece of something(s) for under $5. If you're unwilling to spend that amount to see first hand what a place has to offer, you've no business being on a food site in the first place.

        10 Replies
        1. re: ediblover

          That's a funny thing to lose respect over - one could be reading reviews on a bakery for what other people like, for instance.

          It would make sense for Yelp to ban reviews from people who obviously haven't been to the place, but then again - like I said, it would make sense.

          1. re: uwsister

            We're hounds, aren't we? It comes down to trusting our own noses and sniffing out good places, not following the pack. Places that have many, inexpensive treats, such as a bakery, is almost ideal. Go in, check it out, spend minimal $ and time, taste, judge. And, I don't think I'm alone when I say I enjoy doing stuff like that.

            When something's inexpensive, there's really no reason why you shouldn't try it out first hand. See if you like it or not.

            1. re: ediblover

              For me, the time investment is a bigger factor than the money. Most places I'd check reviews on are 30+ miles from my home (my town and its immediate surroundings do not boast a lot of good food). Price doesn't really enter into the consideration - whether the place is worth a detour does, be it a cheap bakery or an expensive restaurant.

              1. re: cowboyardee

                Yeah, time investment is definitely a factor for me as well.

                No matter what the price range, I don't see anything wrong w/ reading reviews about a place I'm about to visit - yeah, I'm gonna follow my own instinct, obviously, but I also like to read if the place has a specialty that I should check out, or since we're talking about bakeries, if people thought their cakes were dry or frosting too sweet or whatever. It works for me. If that makes me less of a 'hound, I couldn't care less.

                1. re: uwsister

                  Frankly, I think it makes an eater more of a lemming than a hound. It's not limited to a bakery, but any place that has an inexpensive bite. On the subject of time, I don't know how "detour" and 30+ miles are the same thing, when the latter is more like a destination.

                  You find yourself close to a place. It may be near your destination, a break during a long trip or just a place that you ran into in your own neighborhood. Stop, go inside, take a look, try a bite. Less than 5 minutes and $5 spent. I don't know how/when "check the reviews" was included in the process, but it really doesn't belong there. Reviews are really for destination worthy places, but there's something of a catch there in that destination places don't really need reviews since they've something interesting about them, a draw that goes beyond the personal tastes in reviews. To me, the only draw of reviews are ones that say, "Here's a place that you may find interesting." It's a hound that's found something - May be good, may be bad - and barking for the others to check it out. It just may be a worthy destination and one just may sniff out other places along the way.

                  1. re: ediblover

                    >I don't know how/when "check the reviews" was included in the process, but it really doesn't belong there.

                    I disagree, and I think we can agree to disagree at this point.

                    1. re: uwsister

                      I thought I was an introvert, but not going somewhere unless I know what others think of it, seems a very limiting way to live.

                      1. re: Cathy

                        It certainly does to me as well - I don't think anyone on this thread has written anything like that though.

            2. re: uwsister

              yelp does ban reviews from people who havent been to a place. but it needs to get reported to them

              1. re: thew

                I have reported them - and those reviews have been deleted. Thanks!

          2. -----------------

            "I know how influential Yelp can be (most everyone I know checks it before heading somewhere for a meal)"


            Unfortunately, your allowing unreputable and often times uninformed or even total irrevelant comments or reviews enter into your dining decision making.

            Yelp can be helpful as an overall barometer to the general food quality and ambiance of a restaurant or dining facility in many cases, BUT--and a big but it is--- between selective editing by the Yelp site staff, ballot box stuffing or hate mail by those who know nothing of the place or have personal or business ties and plain old foolish or unobtainable/arbitrary standards set forth by an amateur diner, it's the equivalent of trying to "herd cats".

            Local word of mouth or even interaction with local foodies yields a far better realistic review than those who are self-deemed "keyboard foodie warriors."

            Heck, due to food blogs and local reviews, Yelp is the last place I look for any type of culinary guidance when eating out.

            2 Replies
            1. re: jjjrfoodie

              IMO we are going off-topic here, don't wanna go into "Yelp vs. Chowhound" - but there are good reviewers and bad reviewers everywhere. It's usually pretty easy to figure out.

              1. re: jjjrfoodie

                So much of what's posted on Yelp is of the "look at me!" type ("look how clever I am!", "look how negative I can be about a place that the majority of posters love!") that it's hard to take any of it at face value.

              2. Yelp gives the Denny's closest to my house 5 stars.

                I use it to find an address, hours and maybe a link to a website. I use my own common sense the first time I go to any restaurant and order a "basic" item. If they can't do that right, I don't go back.