Chesterman interviews chefs about restaurant trends; internet critics
In today's Gazette there is an interesting article curated by Lesley in which she interviews chefs/restaurant owners about current trends in the restaurant world. It's a fun read, and gives a lot of insight into the perspective from the other side of the stove:
At first I disagreed with the section in which all the interviewees bemoan customers who tear apart restaurants on trip advisor, (chowhound), etc following bad meals, but after considering it I think it's maybe a good point. It is rare that a professional restaurant critic or travel book will publish a scathing review of a restaurant, and maybe the same unspoken rule is best applied for amateur reviewers. In this sense, those restaurants that don't get reviewed are those that don't deserve a visit. This is especially because the harshest reviews online typically seem to come from people who have unfounded/unreasonable expectations (i.e. those who viciously complain about the chalkboards and noise at Joe Beef). This is obviously a tough rule to enforce, but its something I'll personally keep in mind.
Not all of the responses are completely reasonable, and they essentially reaffirm my choices of restaurants to frequent and those I'll continue to avoid, but its interesting to read some of the unintuitive things that front-of-house do and do not find objectionable. For instance, there are few objections to customers requesting that music be turned down or meat be cooked to different degrees, but several exceptions to dietary/allergy stipulations).
I dont agree--, L. Chesterman has panned restaurants. On her radio show she is very critical of sites where people like us review our food experiences-- it seems like it is competition for her. But I actually prefer these reviews than those of many of the paid reviewers. I also find she focuses too much on desserts and wines, with expectations that dont seem as important to me.
She does not cover all kinds of restaurants as evident from her comments of the food show, in fact seems to eat out not that much. I find bloggers and sites such as chowhound keep on top of changing food scene. I think very few people have an axe to grind and anyways it all evens out with other comments. I personally dont like noise in a restaurant as difficult to converse but never thought to have it turned down however if owner/manager is agreeable why not.
Obviously you don't read the New York Times restaurant reviews... http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/14/din... Or Jeffrey Steingarten or Jonathan Gold. They regularly publish not only scathing, but extremely entertaining reviews of meals gone bad.
I would consider Lesley Chesterman to be at about the same level as a Yelp, Chowhound, Trip Advisor or other online reviewer. She raves about her friends and and puts down those she doesn't like and/or doesn't know.