Don’t Look a Gift Meal in the Mouth

Shefzilla makes the following point: It’s “disappointing” when a restaurant is reviewed after being open for “only a few months.” Here’s a proposal: Restaurants should enjoy a review-proof grace period for as long as they give food away for free.


  1. HungryinSW

    It’s an interesting discussion. I believe Shefzilla will be publishing a more comprehensive post on the matter in the days to come. Can’t wait to read it as I know the topic is hotly debated.

  2. Tom

    I wonder what’s the magic amount of time to wait before it’s fair to review a restaurant. And if it’s not ready to be reviewed, would I want to eat there? But if I don’t eat there, how will it ever be ready to be reviewed?

  3. tph

    I think what will eventually come out of this discussion is the notion of more “revisit” reviews. Shefzilla is right, the first couple of months of a restaurant are not really an indication of what it will be like when everyone has gotten used to things (this applies both to the diners, and the restaurant itself). But that being said, reviews of new place are an important service that give potential diners an idea of whether or not they want to take a risk on the latest new shiny.

    So, why not go back to a restaurant that was all the rave two years ago when it opened, and see what it’s like now? Wouldn’t it be interesting to see side-by-side reviews of an eatery, separated only by time, perhaps even from the same reviewer? You could get an idea of both how the restaurant, and the reviewer have matured with time.

  4. James Norton

    That’s very true — an initial review doesn’t and shouldn’t preclude follow-ups. If there’s a clear angle to a review, it doesn’t bother me — as a reader — if the place has been open for 1, 2, 5, 10 or 50 years already. I’d read a review of Nye’s if it said something fresh.

  5. brian

    It is unfortunate if a promising young restaurant is dealt the early blow of a bad review, but rather than sulk the restaurateur might want to heed the recommendations of the reviewer, even invite the reviewer back for a taste rather than put him or her on a hitlist. (Reviewing ethics would require the reviewer go on a stealth return not at the restaurant’s request to insure it wasn’t a one time deal.)

    But I would also like to see places that received glowing reviews initially re-reviewed within a reasonable time period to ensure they maintain that quality. For example, remember how Bulldog N.E. was revolutionizing pub-grub a couple of years ago when it opened to very positive reviews? A string of overcooked burgers and meh experiences (for me, a non-publishing critic) makes me think it’s in need of a reality check.

  6. tph

    So, if the original statement had be something like “it’s disappointing when a restaurant is _only_ reviewed in the first few months” it would have made more sense?

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