bad taste from a bad review

not so long ago, i was an intern at a seattle publication that devoted much of its glossiness to reviews.  though they ranged from film to food, happy hours to hair salons, the policy that ruled each section was no negative reviews.

my view on this principle ranged from skeptical to resistant.  after all, what are reviews but an expression of one person’s opinion?  needless to say, i thought most about restaurants, and saw the logic in warning eaters of a sub-par dining option.  with a small budget and so many delicious options, i myself appreciated being given a heads up.

and yet, when i read (or cringed my way through) the stranger’s january 2 review of the thomas street bistro, i felt not thankful but upset.  spattered with words such as desiccated, depressing, damp, failure, over-cooked, flaccid, tough, gristly, the only distant suggestion of approval was found in the mention of “a decent lentil soup”.

i understand that there is the very real possibility that no other part of the meal even deserved “decent”.  but what is it about this type of dining experience that actually warrants a lengthy review?

yes, there’s just one name on the byline, perhaps the only individual from the stranger who has actually consumed food at the restaurant.  that being said, a review published in a widely recognized newspaper has the impression of being weightier than an independent review.  it is assumed (though not necessarily correctly) that the author has some credentials, something more to offer than the average eater.if the descriptions in this review reflect what most diners will experience, this restaurant will fail to attract the following necessary to sustain it.  it’s a feed-well-or-be-eaten-fast kind of industry and the thomas street bistro will learn this with or without being shredded by the stranger.  likewise, the previous week’s nauseating disparagement of la spiga will not sway the hoards that appear there each dinner hour.

what a full page and the author’s time could have produced was a thoughtful combination of recommendation and criticism of one of the overwhelming number of hopeful restaurants that exist within just a few miles of the thomas street bistro.  step back, keep your conscious clear, and let it fail by it’s own (lack of) merit.  

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~ by patmybutter on January 10, 2008.

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