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winegeek

Giving Negative Restaurant Feedback

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In your theme of 'getting the best possible meal out of any given restaurant', perhaps some of the local eGullet members simply took your advice and did exactly that. Can you fault them?

Of course not, but this has nothing to do with the topic at hand. This topic started with several posts from Vancouver-area members saying things like:

I still would find it difficult to post my true feelings about a local spot knowing that the owner/chef/GM are a big part of this community.

and

I myself have been pressured to sugar coat bad reviews and I've gotten PMs from fellow gulleters regarding the same thing - how they don't post bad reviews anymore for fear of repercussions. 

and

In Vancouver, this has been complicated by the social apsect.  Friends now protect friends.  It all becomes so personal.

I urge you to consider the impact such conduct has on the credibility of restaurant reports throughout eG Forums discussions. The desire to have a regional forum read like a tourism brochure is tempting, but short-sighted. Editorial publications derive their credibility from their ability to express viewpoints independently. No one opposes a collegial, positive attitude and environment in the Western Canada or any other geographical community within the larger eGullet Society community. However, when it trips over into a lessening of credibilty, it goes off mission. I regret that the words "clubbiness" and "agendas" were -- because they were bad word choices by me -- misinterpreted by folks who are comfortable overlooking the shortcomings of the advertorial approach. By those words, I simply meant what was stated in the three quotes above, as well as others. I'm sure there were better words.


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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I don't know if this has occurred to any of you.....

But the reason this thread was started was because of a certain reviewer taking pot shots at the Vancouver Forum eGulleters.

It just occurred to me that MAYBE, just MAYBE it might be because a thread popped up on the Vancouver forum in NOVEMBER that has been criticizing everything from that reviewer's spelling to her writing style, to her competency on most of her reviews since then.  Public Pot Shots?  Yes.

Does she have the right to take pot shots back....why not.  Did she use the right outlet?  Perhaps not, but it's the one that she's familiar with.

Vitriol bespeaks vitriol.

Don't cast stones when you live in a glass house.  Or in other words, don't dish it out if you can't take it.

I'm not defending the woman.  I don't read her reviews, and have only heard about them.....just giving some insight as to why this particular bit of vitriol may have occurred.

just my $.02

I think most people are aware of that.

She has been lambasted because most of her reviews are as ill considered as this one. To clarify, most people are not so much angry that she attacked eG as that Rare suffered as a result If you read this thread you will find that most of us are aware of the negative sentiment on our thread of A. Gill. You are missing the point- or at least my point.

Has RARE

SUFFERED as a result? Please Andrew, don't be melodramatic. I think that some people in the Vancouver forum ARE angry that she attacked fellow eGulleters including Brian Fowke and want to know why she did it and what it has to do with her review.

QUOTE(Daddy-A @ Apr 2 2006, 11:45 AM)

On another issue (Gill's review of Rare) I have no issue with her review of the restaurant.  But IMO she crossed the line BIG TIME by attacking members here who had NOTHING to do with her meal. /QUOTE

Thanks for that.

As one of the EG members targeted in her review, all I can say is that I'm really upset at the way I was portrayed.

[snip]

There are a lot of people who are similarly upset by her characterization of me, and letters are being sent to the editor.

This is my beef with your review ... I'm still waiting for a reason why eGullet (ling, Zuke, et al) were dragged into this.

Is that plain enough? I just thought I'd add a little enlightenment.

To answer the post after yours:

After reading Alexandra Gill's review of Rare (Vancouver, BC)HERE
This thread was started because in your review of Rare you questioned the ability of eGullet members to post negative reviews, in particular in the Vancouver/Western Canada Forum. winegeek wanted to discuss that idea further. Your review may have been the catalyst Ms. Gill, but it ain't the subject.

Yes, this thread was started because of the said review. Should it be about the review? No. Was it intended to be? No. But yes, that has snuck in here.

As for my opinion of whether the Vancouver forum is a "BIG LOVE IN".... There ARE some critical voices out there, but they do not post often. Are people afraid to say too much? Yes. Especially after the Irish Heather Thread. (I arrived on eG just as this thread happened, so i don't have a frame of reference as to the tone before this....but i do remember some of the comments at the time stating that they would be more careful after that...) I have been told by some of the more critical voices around town that they can't read the Vancouver forum anymore because they do think that "No one is brave enough to say something negative!"

As a Chef in Vancouver, I prefer to stay anonymous on this board. My restaurant has been LAMBASTED more than once by numerous people inside and outside the Vancouver Forum. It has also received accolades. Restaurants do have bad nights and good nights, but I want to know about them in MY place of employment even on my days off and on my holidays. I remain anonymous to MOST of the members so that barometer is reflected fairly. I do not want to scare people into thinking that they can not say something bad about my place of employment because they know that I post here. I would rather use the criticism as a reason to review menu ideas and improving training of the staff.

As for my own perspective on other restaurants: Because I am a Chef....I AM VERY CRITICAL about every aspect of the places that I dine at. My husband sometimes hates dining with me. I have dined at places that were highly touted on eG's Vancouver forum, and thought: "What were they THINKING?!!" In these cases, I have wrote to management of said restaurants and let them know that they slipped up majorly. I have not returned to some and will return to others to give a second chance. But I will not post comments until I give a place a fair shake....Meaning that I have dined there more than a few times. Therefore, I don't review much. I don't get out much. I'm too busy. If people ask me personally what I think about a place, I will tell them, but as a chef I feel that it is irresponsible of me to criticize other restaurants publicly because I AM hyper critical. People will say: "Ohhh...She's just being catty!" Sounds like ALEX GILL.....

Anyway this has taken a long time, and I must get on with my day.

Cheers!

Wow,

As you have been to my place a couple of times without negative comment, I am in the clear.

I could not handle two complaints in the same thread.


Neil Wyles

Hamilton Street Grill

www.hamiltonstreetgrill.com

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No one opposes a collegial, positive attitude and environment in the Western Canada or any other geographical community within the larger eGullet Society community. However, when it trips over into a lessening of credibilty, it goes off mission. I regret that the words "clubbiness" and "agendas" were -- because they were bad word choices by me -- misinterpreted by folks who are comfortable overlooking the shortcomings of the advertorial approach. By those words, I simply meant what was stated in the three quotes above, as well as others. I'm sure there were better words.

Thanks for acknowledging that, Steven - a fair assessment I'm sure. I thought that an earlier post that you made neatly summarized a Latin phrase that I hold dear: Sine Timore aut Favore - 'Without Fear or Favour'.

You said:

To get back to the topic at hand, I think it's a real shame if someone feels he or she isn't free to speak ill of a bad dish or a bad meal. But the consequences of saying what you believe are . . . what exactly? People will disagree with you? You won't get invited to some other member's birthday party? I think those who hold back do a disservice to others and have only themselves to blame. Maybe it's easier to go with the herd, but that's only if your priorities are superficial. If your priorities involve self-respect and integrity, you'll say what you believe.

I quoted you extensively upthread to let other members know that no one is immune from occasionally trumpeting praises too vigorously or even the reverse, although that of course is illegal in Canada. Those foibles describe our human condition, inspire debate on subjects we hold in common, and apply equally to Member 12,924, Member No. 1, and, I hope, many more members to come.

But I also hope that they take to heart that honesty is best, and that honest explanation is better.

For that is precisely what makes this machine the more beautiful.


from the thinly veneered desk of:

Jamie Maw

Food Editor

Vancouver magazine

www.vancouvermagazine.com

Foodblog: In the Belly of the Feast - Eating BC

"Profumo profondo della mia carne"

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Has RARE

SUFFERED as a result?  Please Andrew, don't be melodramatic.  I think that some people in the Vancouver forum ARE angry that she attacked fellow eGulleters including Brian Fowke and want to know why she did it and what it has to do with her review.

Sigh. Firstly, it is Ann, not Andrew.

Certainly Rare suffered from not having a professional and balanced review. Whether it has put fewer bums in seats- I doubt it... since A Gill lacks credibility as a food writer- though she may have a decent gossip column following.


Edited by Dave the Cook (log)

The sea was angry that day my friends... like an old man trying to send back soup in a deli.

George Costanza

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In your theme of 'getting the best possible meal out of any given restaurant', perhaps some of the local eGullet members simply took your advice and did exactly that. Can you fault them?

Of course not, but this has nothing to do with the topic at hand.

Thing is, some people would say it has lots to do with the topic at hand.

I've seen it on other boards where consumers interact with service providers. Some consumers will argue that, by cozying up to the service providers on the board, they enable themselves to get superior service. They wonder why anyone would decline to use the board that way. Isn't that what the board is for, they ask: to improve the consumer posters' experiences with service providers? And, in any event (they always add), what's wrong with being "nice" and "sociable"?

The problem is, of course, that such agenda-driven board usage diminishes the board's integrity. I think it's just wrong to post things for any reason other than expressing your true opinion.

To be clear, I'm using a lot of bad words and pejoratives here. The people who do what I'm describing would probably say they aren't "agenda-driven" but rather "friendly". I know I sound harsh, but I wonder how different those two things are in this context.


Edited by Sneakeater (log)

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Well Gosh,

I just somebody would point out some instances where there was a clear agenda, or a clear compromise to anybody's integrity. These are big words to throw around. Has it ever occurred to anyone that there is NO agenda? That people are just going about their way, expressing their views in whatever way they see fit, and enjoying the board for their own various purposes?

Has it occurred to anyone that perhaps people were overwhelmingly positive about places like Rare and HSG because these places merit it?

I suggest that those who have branded the Western Canada thread as a giant shill-a-thon actually go back to the board and take a closer look.

There is plenty of divergence of opinion there.


The sea was angry that day my friends... like an old man trying to send back soup in a deli.

George Costanza

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In your theme of 'getting the best possible meal out of any given restaurant', perhaps some of the local eGullet members simply took your advice and did exactly that. Can you fault them?

Of course not, but this has nothing to do with the topic at hand.

Thing is, some people would say it has lots to do with the topic at hand.

I've seen it on other boards where consumers interact with service providers. Some consumers will argue that, by cozying up to the service providers on the board, they enable themselves to get superior service. They wonder why anyone would decline to use the board that way. Isn't that what the board is for, they ask: to improve the consumer posters' experiences with service providers? And, in any event (they always add), what's wrong with being "nice" and "sociable"?

The problem is, of course, that such agenda-driven board usage diminishes the board's integrity. I think it's just wrong to post things for any reason other than expressing your true opinion.

To be clear, I'm using a lot of bad words and pejoratives here. The people who do what I'm describing would probably say they aren't "agenda-driven" but rather "friendly". I know I sound harsh, but I wonder how different those two things are in this context.

I will grant that the Vancouver forum has its share of “Yummy!” reviews--I’ve made one or two of that ilk myself--but to damn our entire regional forum as a bunch of “agenda-driven,” “clubby” people (or pejorative adjective of choice) who are there merely to socialize to the detriment of our palates or credibility, or create advertorials to increase tourism and make ourselves look good...Pardon? this is just silly. Where does that come from?

The pulled punches of a few should not damage the credibility of anyone except those few. There are plenty of people on the forum who don’t sell good reviews for comped food and wine; I am among them. The few restaurants that give me the odd extra do so because I am a longstanding customer and they appreciate my business; the fact that I am a longstanding customer means that they are clearly doing something to my taste; ergo, good reports on eGullet. Are my good reports contingent upon getting an amuse-gueule? I’m not sure about others, but I’d hardly whore myself for $5 worth of foie gras. :rolleyes:

The occasional lack of report about a restaurant that one was not particularly enthused about shouldn’t negate the value of the positive reports, nor of the “meh” reports. There are plenty of “meh” reports on our forum.

I will say that some industry persons have zealously rushed to respond to lukewarm or negative criticism in a way that has discouraged frank discussion of their restaurants, to my knowledge. There is a fine line between showing concern and being overbearing...but I think that is getting ironed out.


Agenda-free since 1966.

Foodblog: Power, Convection and Lies

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Very well said Deborah!!

As I said earlier, I find this veiw of the Vancouver Forum extremely sad.

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I’m not sure about others, but I’d hardly whore myself for $5 worth of foie gras. :rolleyes:

:laugh::laugh::laugh: Nowhere but on eGullet would I read that!

Now for $10 worth of foie, my loyalties can be rented ...

A.

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[Host] This thread IS about giving restaurant feedback, not how the Vancouver forum is perceived by anyone, let's keep it on track guys.


Barbara Laidlaw aka "Jake"

Good friends help you move, real friends help you move bodies.

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I’m not sure about others, but I’d hardly whore myself for $5 worth of foie gras. :rolleyes:

:laugh::laugh::laugh: Nowhere but on eGullet would I read that!

Now for $10 worth of foie, my loyalties can be rented ...

A.

[Host] This thread IS about giving restaurant feedback, not how the Vancouver forum is perceived by anyone, let's keep it on track guys.

Only on eGullet would I read that! [:laugh:, etc.] One hall monitor admonishing another, I mean. And how very confluent with the subject matter at hand and in the most egulletarian of ways!


Edited by jamiemaw (log)

from the thinly veneered desk of:

Jamie Maw

Food Editor

Vancouver magazine

www.vancouvermagazine.com

Foodblog: In the Belly of the Feast - Eating BC

"Profumo profondo della mia carne"

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NICE!

I have read the last two reviews by AG...one bad, but safe...the other safe and safe (boringing eastern BS with nothing).

I guess the tiger had her fangs ripped out. I was un/fortunate enough to read all the letters to the editor about Rare, and the quality of the review. Time to sober up, in more then one way...

I hear JM will be taking over for her for the summer and she may meet the same fate she did in TO.

Read, Chew Discuss...and live well, honestly.


To eat is a necessity, but to eat intelligently is an art La Rochefoucauld

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