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Do you refuse to go to a restaurant because of a bad review you read here on CH?

Wondering how powerful one person's bad experience at a restaurant can be, when that one person decides to document it online on a forum such as CH.

I'm referring more to bad experiences in customer service, rather than the food, because taste and flavors is so subjective to each individual, unless something was blatantly cooked poorly.

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  1. I take it with a grain of salt and try to discern whether it was a one time thing or if many posters have similar comments. I also get to know individual posters' tastes and see whose are similar to mine.

    1. I never consider bad reviews a reason to avoid a restaurant. There is a built-in bias. One person can be dissatisfied and write it up, and It may be without merit, while thousands of satisfied customers post nothing at all. I don't know the person who is complaining, or the circumstances leading to the complaint. Why should I assume it has any merit?

      2 Replies
      1. re: GH1618

        so why would you give merit to good reviews but none to bad reviews? Or if you don't give any merit to any reviews, why bother reading/posting on such forums?

        1. re: TailbackU

          I didn't make any statement regarding good reviews because the topic of the thread is bad reviews. I don't post restaurant reviews, although I may make some remarks about a restaurant if someone else brings it up.

      2. It depends on the persons who wrote the reviews. Over the years, I've figured out by trial and error that I have similar tastes to certain other hounds. If they don't like a place, I probably won't like it, so I just avoid those restaurants if I have a choice in the matter.

        2 Replies
        1. re: raytamsgv

          +2, depends on the poster

          after a few years on CH you kinda get an idea of posters with tastes you trust

          1. re: raytamsgv

            I also agree that a lot would depend on who was actually posting the review, regardless of whether it was a rant or a rave. If it's someone whose posts I've been reading here for a few years, that will carry a lot more weight than, say, a first-time poster who raves about one particular restaurant. And of course, it also depends on whether I, myself, have had a personal experience with the restaurant.

          2. For me, a bad review here on Chowhound holds a lot of weight. Especially if a number of people chime in and agree with the OP's views. There are SOOOOOO many restaurants in LA and I don't eat out nearly enough to try them all.

            While I do take them with a grain of salt, if I'm looking for a particular type of restaurant or in a particular part of town, I will pick a beloved or even mixed-reviewed place. I don't feel I should waste my time at places that many people agree aren't any good.

            Also, I agree with others that certain Chowhounds opinions carry more weight. There are certain people who express views and tastes that align with mine very closely.

            1 Reply
            1. re: alliebear

              I agree. And I'm more likely to avoid an expensive restaurant based on one review than an inexpensive. And I'm more likely to avoid an inconvienent restaurant based on one review than one that makes it easy to dine at (parking, reservations, etc). There are a lot of restaurants here and I only have so much $$ to spend.

              And sometimes I will get a "second opinion" on yelp.

            2. Refuse is such a strong word. There are places I would rather not go to, and there are a few that I strenuously avoid. In one instance I went, but didn't order or eat anything (see ethics thread), but only because I could do so without making a scene.

              If it's auntie's birthday and she wants to go someplace that is special to her, I'm not going to rain on her parade.

              Probably a Chowhound review or thread alone would not be enough to completely repel me, but it would certainly put it on my alert list, and might very well dissuade me unless there were other factors at play.

              1 Reply
              1. re: KaimukiMan

                Exactly my thought when i read the subject line. I wouldn't say "refuse" so much as 'avoid" unless the offense was particularly egregious.

              2. It would depend. A single bad review would not, generally, be enough to discourage me. However, if it was from someone whose other posts I know and respect then that might be different.

                I do post reviews on CH , and other boards. I hope that readers come to know my style, likes and dislikes and can read a post in that context.

                1. I'm going to jump on the same bandwagon as everyone else here. "It depends."

                  If it seems like the super-majority opinion is that a place sucks, then I won't go. If opinions are mixed, then I guess it depends on who is saying what. There are some people who I trust, even if I know I don't share their same tastes. The more detailed and specific a review against a place, the more likely I am to pay attention.

                  Vague generalizations like "bland, soulless" don't really hold much water, in my opinion. Overall I find Chowhound to be the most reliable restaurant site on the net, and I always consult CH first and foremost over almost anything else (even professional reviews).

                  But even so, I don't follow blindly. There are places I like that other hounds do not. And vice versa.

                  1. When I read rant about someplace, one of the first things I do is check out the profile of the Poster. Amazing how often the rant is a first and only post. These I dismiss. This Video gives an fairly accurate reason why: http://youtu.be/JGD4pGAP8jE

                    If the poster has posted often I read some other posts to get a sense of shared values (since we are talking service not food here


                    Now, sometimes a rave will also be a "nevermind" as on some local boards you get the "Gee this place is SO GREAT!!!" reviews by a new poster, and pretty much thing, owner, Mom/Dad/SO of owner or staff.
                    And some posters Love places and constantly drum up business for them, and after reading them for a while you figure out they are getting comp'd. Another form of shilling.

                    So I do go into the "depends on" group. I also must say the Worst meal I ever had was at a CH highly recommended place, food and service wise/

                    1. Nope. Reviews (on CH and elsewhere) are no substitutes for trying it for oneself. Furthermore, restaurants are extremely variable entities, as are human interactions and moods, servers on duty etc.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: limster

                        Reviews are a matter of personal opinion, I will go to a restaurant even if a bunch of people have written negative stuff.

                      2. On reviews in general I tend to consider why a person gave a negative review. Often times what they complain about is irrelevant to me.

                        I remember researching a place to eat at and a reviewer gave it a withering review based mostly on the fact that a Pelican took a dump within her view outside the window. Never mind that the restaurant in question was on the end of a working fishing pier.

                        1. Depends entirely on the reviewer. If it's someone I've come to trust over time -- based on some combination of their having the same general likes/dislikes as me, some level of adventurousness, apparent experience and deep contextual understanding of the local scene, perhaps some specialized expertise (e.g., knowing Taiwanese cuisine intimately thanks to their family heritage, or being a known real-BBQ aficionado), and my sense that they are fair, reasonable, and lacking any industry connections or bias -- then I give their reviews, positive and negative, some weight.

                          If I don't have any sense of their knowledge, depth, taste, reasonableness, and lack of bias based on many postings, and a feeling of shared sensibilities, there's not much point in my following their advice. There are lines out the door of our local Cheesecake Factories, after all.


                          1 Reply
                          1. re: MC Slim JB

                            Considering most are more likely to report bad experiences than good, it would take several bad reports to keep me away. A lot will also depend on the reasoning. Example - reports of a noisy environment will likely keep me away, but service expectations can (and do) vary significantly by person.

                          2. Yes, we would avoid a restaurant that had overwhelming unpleasant reviews especially in Manhattan where there are so many choices.
                            If there are mixed reviews we consider the posters. We also toss out the poster that blasts a place especially if they don't post often. They usually have an axe to grind.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: Motosport

                              I feel differently, and frequent the San Francisco, Hawai`i, New Orleans, London/UK and Phoenix boards. I have found that some CH poster actually know food, but many do not, at least by my tastes.

                              One perfect example is the "steakhouse" recs. on some of those boards. I find that many have not a clue, and if I relied exclusively on their recs. I would only dine at mediocre restaurants, and miss some gems.

                              Now, there are some CH's, who I do follow, but do factor in my personal tastes.

                              I have some great friends, and the lady writes cookbooks, while her husband knows his steakhouses. Still, I do not always agree with their choices. That just shows a difference between us.


                            2. Absolutely not. Chowhound has identified new places for me that I might not otherwise even know exist (including my home state) but I would not refuse or avoid any place because of a review on CH. Reviews are information but not a sole reason for me to avoid or run to a restaurant, food shop or online resource.

                              Now, if I was sharing a meal with a fellow hound that would be a completely different experience (and no doubt a review-involving meal).

                              1. No, but then again, I do not rush to a restaurant, where CH's laud them with praise.

                                I post to many different boards, and see many, who love a particular restaurant. That is their choice, and sometimes I agree, but sometimes, I do not. It just depends.

                                I can name many "sacred cows," and have not problem, sticking my spear into their hearts. If I enjoy a restaurant, regardless of what others think, such is life.

                                If I have a horrible experience with one of "their" favorites, then the spear is out, and I do not care whose ox is gored. It is about MY enjoyment, and that is what I report on.

                                Going back some years, the Hawai`i Board had many anti Mama's Fish House reviews, but also many positive Mama's Fish House posts. I took it upon myself to explore the restaurant, as the board was highly polarized - love it, or hate it. Well, we loved it, and have returned over the years. That does not discount the many, who hated it, but only indicates that with restaurants, it is all about personal tastes.