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May 20, 2013 04:17 AM

Do you give a restaurant a bad review?

A fairly high profile pair of amateur restaurant reviewers in the UK recently had what was described as the worst dining experience in their three years of writing a blog.

The issue? A meal of lobster in a London restaurant with wine sold at £14 (very cheap) turned out to be a lobster burger with only 33% lobster.

The restaurant got an absolute slating which I personally thought was a bit over the top. You can read my review of their review here -


This couple have had a couple of spats with celebrity chefs and the media in the past and it does seem to be more common with other bloggers to give a bad reviews to create interest.

Now I don't do a review blog but I do contribute to Trip Advisor. However, if I have received bad service, then I don't bother with a review. Personally I don't think it is fair to do that on one visit - unless it was seriously bad - ie bed bugs in a hotel - which thankfully I have never experienced.

So would you give a bad review on one visit?

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  1. I know people who are professional reviewers, for a big newspaper, and they never give a thoroughly bad review. They just don't give a review at all which is punishment enough!

    As a side note, here in the US you can't call something "lobster" unless there is more than 50% lobster meat in it. But how did they know the exact ratio, I'm wondering?

    Also wondering, if they like to review restaurants, why did they both get the same dish? That is a big no no when writing a review too.

    2 Replies
    1. re: coll

      Actually they didn't have the same dish. One went for the hanger steak - which looked really nice in the photos - but got no mention in the blog.

      1. re: PhilipS

        That's so sad. They must be the type that thrive on negativity!

    2. Thank you for raising this. I'm amazed at how blithely people trash a place after a single experience. I generally try not to write a review on food if I've eaten only once as I've hardly touched the range of a menu. I will write if the service and management issues are bizarrely bad (no response to a complaint of a creature in your soup, no apology for seating you an hour after your reservation) just as I'll write a good review when service and management responds appropriately to a bad situation (very sorry for the delay, please let us pay your bar bill, etc.). I appreciate people who handle unpleasantness with grace. But I do feel most restaurant people work too hard to be trashed on my single eating of a few things on a big menu.

      1 Reply
      1. re: teezeetoo

        Quite right teezeetoo! Well reasoned and nicely stated.

      2. The promotion alone would tick me off "Steak or Lobster" would immediately incline me to believe it's "Lobster" not a lobster burger.

        This actually reminds me of a recent let down I experienced. There was a local restaurant which I frequent the bar/lounge often, but not really the restaurant. Never being to fond of the food I enjoyed cocktails and ambiance more than dining. Anyway....last year they ran a summer seafood special their catch phrase was "We See Food Differently" and it was promoting a new summer seafood menu. Outside the building where they had a HUGE sign advertising the new summer seafood menu with the slogan, and a cooked/steamed lobster, as the main photo on the back ground.

        I love an occasional lobster dinner and after seeing the sign, I vowed to myself I was going to have a nice lobster dinner there one night. Several weeks pass and finally I've got my "lobster hunger" on and it's off to this establishment I go.

        Once seated I waived off a menu already knowing what I wanted, what size lobsters do you have, I asked. The bartender said, "We don't have lobster tonight" (outside of sushi), confused I said, "oh, my bad, can I see the menu". Figuring that perhaps they only offer lobster on certain nights, I get the menu turn to the "Sea Food" Summer menu page, and............no lobster!! None!! Not one lobster dish on the entire menu!! Add insult to injury........do you know what the first entree was on the Summer Sea Food menu....???? Chicken Parmesan!!!!

        I called the bartender over and asked, why don't you have lobster on the Sea Food menu, he asked me why I thought there would be. I said look at the sign out side advertising it!?!?! See the 6 foot lobster back ground?!?!?! I then pointed out that the first entree on the menu is actually Chicken Parm!?!?! I finished my drink and left. lol

        If I had a blog I would have written to no end about that, boy was I pissed. lol

        2 Replies
        1. re: jrvedivici

          You should read this thread. Sadly tells you why chicken parm is the first dish on the menu.


          1. re: jrvedivici

            Especially since lobster is in the name of the restaurant.

            Hopefully the biscuits helped make up for the disappointment.

          2. Hi, Phillip:

            Yes, I definitely would give a restaurant a scathing review if they were caught passing off a dish containing a small % of lobster as lobster.

            I had a similar experience in a resto in Victoria, B.C., where I ordered a crab dish. What was served me was obviously surimi. There ensued an escalating scene, the hilarious crescendo of which was the maitre 'd screaming (in a crowded house): "Of course it's fake. You wouldn't want to eat our REAL crab!"

            In my book, businesses that cheat their patrons don't get a second chance. But they DO get both barrels when it comes to my review.


            6 Replies
            1. re: kaleokahu

              In all honesty at £14 it was very unlikely to be 100% lobster - the meal also included a half bottle of wine and fries. I also think the diner probably failed to read the small print.

              If you check out some of the general reviews on the Top Table website, the restaurant comes out quite well


              1. re: PhilipS

                Hi, Philip:

                Here in the States, lobster prices can plunge steeply, so the low menu price might not be as telling in USA as in UK. Many times I've had a fat lobster roll for considerably less than £10.

                It may be that these amateur reviewers were hypercritical, myopic a-holes, or had some concealed problem with the resto. And yes, the consensus of the toptable reviews for the place is positive.

                However, if I was served a "lobster burger" or crabcake that was only 1/3 the advertised crustacean, I'd be a little....crabby myself regardless of price. If a resto is resorting to 2/3 binder/filler for such things, it is borderline deceiving its customers to call it lobster or crab, IMO.

                If the same resto was offering beef hamburgers ground with only 1/3 beef, would you feel the same way? And if the burger cost £1, would you be sanguine upon learning it had been ground merely *in the presence* of beef?


                1. re: kaleokahu

                  I understand what you are saying, but here in the UK it appears that our beef has actually contained some (and occasionally a lot) of horse. Personally I wasn't particularly upset about this. I can't often afford to buy top quality steak mince (ground beef) from the quality butcher - so it is value range from the national supermarket. To be honest, once it has been converted into a lasagne with herbs and tomatoes, then I would be struggling to taste the difference between horse and beef.

                  Additionally when you buy ground beef, it is likely to contain beef heart, tongue and other parts of the cow. I wonder if every consumer is aware of this.

                  1. re: PhilipS

                    Hi Again, Philip: "Additionally when you buy ground beef, it is likely to contain beef heart, tongue and other parts of the cow."

                    Yes, perhaps, but at least it's all beef, not 1/3 beef with the rest Soylent Green filler.

                    I've got nothing against horsemeat, but I'd be screaming murther most foul if what was sold to me as beef hamburger contained it. It would be, in one word, adulterated. In another, a fraud.

                    What's next? 1 part foie gras, 3 parts digested Trafalgar pigeon feathers?


                2. re: PhilipS

                  Anyone who believes that a lobster burger,fries and half bottle of wine for £14 in central London is going to be 100% lobster is at best a little naive.
                  I've eaten at the Reform Bar and Grill and found it mediocre and with brazen upselling (the look on the waiters face and intake of breath when we said we didn't want starters). Won't go back but didn't see the point of posting. Unless it's really good , spectacularly bad or a well thought of place that has gone down hill or vice versa (less likely as why would I go back to a poor place to see if it had improved).

                3. Yes.As I see it, a restaurant has one chance to impress and try to create a regular. So one truly negative experience matters. Even a series of one visit negative reviews can show a pattern. I would use specifics and give more details for a one visit negative review, and if possible give some positives.

                  Friday went out to a local favorite and had horrible service and was unable to get any food. I wouldn't write a negative review because it was a busy night (graduation celebrations) and they were apologetic. But even though our experience doesn't seem to be the norm for the restaurant, we don't plan to return.

                  Yesterday had horrible service and bland food at a local touristy restaurant. However, they offer free parking and their prices are reasonable. I wouldn't recommend the restaurant, but I won't write a review because my experience was on par with what I expected based on other Chowhound posts. Though I probably will warn people and suggest alternatives if the restaurant comes up in the future.