Do you read restaurant reviews before eating out?
Personally, I will rarely read a restaurant review before I eat out at a new restaurant. Very occasionally, if I am going to a new area, I will scan Trip Advisor for highly rated local establishments and possibly skim (aka "man") read a few of the recent reviews, but nothing more.
I don't tend to read the restaurant review amateur food blogs as some of them are either just pictures and a few poor words, or they are badly written with the stock "to die for" type descriptions.
The only professional food reviewer I will read is Grace Dent in the Evening Standard (UK) - only because she has a very entertaining writing style.
So who does read the reviews and do they influence your choices?
But if I happen across a FB review from a few favorite local bloggers or hear an interview with a interesting local chef it often spurs me to make a reservation.
Occasionally. I never bother with something like Zagat's. That is just a popularity contest. I find a well written review helpful especially if we are going some place new to us. Then they can at least give you an overview of what to expect.
Yes, why wouldn't you want information about a place where you are going to be spending your time and money.
I read local newspaper critics, chowhound and even yelp reviews when I am considering a new restaurant. If the reviews are overwhelmingly negative or if they just mention things that I know are not to my taste, then I can skip the restaurant and find somewhere else.
If the reviews are OK or even mixed and I am still interested enough in the menu then I can go and make up my own mind.
I read them all the time. While I think any single review should be taken with a grain of salt, if there is a preponderance of comments about any one aspect of the place (good or bad), I'm likely to pay more attention.
I use Yelp to look @ the overall rating scale, and do check the negative (1 on scale). I almost always launch to the restaurant web site to peruse the sample menu.