Tag Archives: Review

Reviewing Reviewers

I’ve got criticism on the brain this Foodie Friday, not because I’ve been the subject of any but I read a restaurant review and it got me to thinking.

Workers in the kitchen at Delmonico's Restaura...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There are certain elements to a restaurant review that are certainly objective.  The silverware either was or was not clean, the water glasses were or were not refilled on a regular basis.  Much of what one would talk about, however, is very much subjective.  What is good to the reviewer might not be very good to you at all.

At least with a professional reviewer, one can hope that in addition to a palate that’s been educated a bit they would demonstrate fairness and honesty and not just try to write a clever rip job for the sake of doing so.  The good ones have an appreciation that they are not in an objective field but they know that the critic’s job is to educate and illuminate and to give you a comprehensive view of the dining experience, hopefully making multiple visits to the eatery to form an opinion.  Today, of course, everyone is a critic – just spend 5 minutes on Yelp.  The standards I just mentioned don’t apply.

This would drive me crazy if I were a chef.  Then again, I think there’s a business point in it which can be helpful to all of us.  The smart cooks just go to work and present the best possible quality food every day and enjoy themselves while doing it.  They acknowledge that they’re being evaluated each time they present their product but they don’t let the criticism overwhelm them.  It’s a tool to help them measure themselves and improve and some is more accurate and valuable than others.  They review the reviewers in the context of their own skills and standards.

We forget that in business sometimes.  Satisfying 99.9% of 1,000 customers means someone is unhappy.  If they’re a loyal, long-term buyer then that review is based on multiple visits and is an informed opinion.  Listen and learn.   More importantly, ask if you put out your best product.  Have you set your standards high enough and commiserate with your abilities or are you slacking?  When your year-end review isn’t as good as you expect, is it an objective, fact-based listing of where you’ve come up short or is it a subjective rant?  Review the reviewer but don’t dismiss a bad one out of hand if it’s accurate.

We’re all evaluated each time we produce a product.  Listen and learn and present your best product.  When you do so with high standards, the reviews will be fine.  So will your sanity.

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Filed under food, Thinking Aloud

Ending The Week On A Brutal Note

I’ve been informed that I was a bit brutal on the good, hard-working folks at CL&P yesterday. Maybe, but sometimes honesty is mistaken for brutality, and I try always to be honest here on the screed. If any of your relations or friends work for the power company here in Connecticut  I’m sure they’re doing the best they can.  Whomever is directing them, however, needs to think about another profession.

With that in mind, let’s turn to our Foodie Friday Fun. What else but brutal restaurant reviews?  This piece from HuffPo highlights 10 of the most scathing restaurant reviews they could find.  The piece makes a good point – brutal reviews are always more fun to read than positive ones.  As it turn out, they get wider circulation via social media too.  Having written a few bits of snark in my time, I’ll tell you they’re way more fun to write.  I mean, it takes a fair amount of effort to find a clever and accurate way to say “it sucked”.  Each of the reviews cited is fun – I particularly liked this one from Frank Bruni – and well worth a few minutes of your time.  That said, they do raise an interesting business point.

Suppose you were on the receiving end of one of these babies?  Are your listening posts set up to recognize them?  Is there someone who is designated with responding in a non-confrontational, transparent manner?  What do you do if the criticism is accurate and warranted (that gets well beyond fixing some bad reviews, I know)?  Can’t happen to you?  Check out the reviews not related to restaurants on Yelp sometime.  Google will serve up local search results with negative reviews embedded.  Private sites such as Angie’s List can kill you with you ever knowing it.  Brutal, indeed.

It used to be that a negative newspaper review was bad but not fatal.  After all, very few papers have the kind of circulation (even years ago) that could kill a business.  Word of mouth could hurt, but that took a long time, giving a restaurant ( or any other business) a margin for error.  Not any more.  Restaurants open and close in weeks – there is no time to fix it so they need to start out very good and get better, listening to the information flow all the while.  That’s brutal!

Are you listening?

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Filed under digital media, food, Reality checks

Spotting BS

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Image via Wikipedia

Yesterday’s rant was on the need to check out facts before finalizing opinions. A great example of this is in today’s NY Times piece on last night’s debate – it simply states what the candidate said and what multiple sources say on the same subjects to back up or question what was said. Hopefully the paper and many others will continue to do this right through the election next year.
But what happens when you do try to verify facts and find that there are multiple, conflicting data points? Could it be because some of them are fake? Continue reading

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Filed under Helpful Hints, Reality checks