Will Yelp and "Cit Crit" Replace Restaurant Critics?
Dear Ba Foodist,
Do you think Yelp and other online restaurant review sites are the future of restaurant criticism? As a restaurant owner, I’m afraid that now, in addition to all my other responsibilities, I have the joy of responding to semi-literate nincompoops.
Barbara Ortiz, Fawnskin, California
Allow me to offer this piece of advice: Do not get into an online
back-and-forth with your critics. Arguing with an anonymous poster will
only frustrate you and might cause problems. As for whether Yelp and
other online review sites are the future of restaurant criticism…no,
and yes. No, I don’t think the traditional restaurant column with a
named critic is passe. Critics’ reviews in New York magazine, the San
Francisco Chronicle, The New York Times, and the like still matter
greatly–just ask any chef whose restaurant has recently been reviewed.
(Back when Zagat guides became popular, pundits predicted that these
public ratings would render experts obsolete. Didn’t happen.) But, yes,
blogs, online food message boards, and other sites are changing the way
people decide where to eat. In order to make the best use of any media,
whether it’s The Boston Globe or chowhound.com, you must understand
that taste is subjective, and that food is open to all sorts of
interpretations. If I’m curious as to whether a restaurant is worth
trying out or not, I don’t consult sites like Yelp–I ask a friend. That
way, I can hold the person accountable.
What do America’s leading restaurant critics think of Yelp and other forms of citizen criticism? Check back here at noon today to find out.