Sunday, 16 March 2014

Favours for Food

There is much chatter right now about food bloggers and whether you can trust their restaurant reviews.  At first I ignored it as, like many other bloggers, I write for fun not for food.  The furore centres around two things: the food blogger who responds to the siren calls of PR's offering complimentary meals; and the blagger blogger who offers a favourable review in exchange for a free meal.  As the debate goes on remaining silent on the subject is beginning to feel like I'm keeping my head down so as not to attract unwelcome attention so, here goes.

I can only speak for myself.  Personally I don't accept invitations from PR's to review restaurants and how anyone has the brass neck to blag a meal is beyond me.  I thought of simply tweeting "please read the About Me section on my blog", but that seemed a little attention seeking.  Instead I'm writing this post for those of you who take the trouble to read my blog.  Firstly, I've been on both sides of the fence.  I've worked as a restaurant reviewer and then I went in a totally different direction.  I started blogging over 3 years ago simply to share a love of good food.  I wanted to celebrate chefs, restaurants, writers, traders and food producers who I felt were doing a particularly good job. 

In the case of restaurant reviewing, I do it anonymously and I pay for my food.  Occasionally in a restaurant I'm given a new dish to try.  This happens because I'm a regular and the kitchen values my feedback.  By this time I've already written about the place and they often don't even know I do that sort of thing.  I occasionally manage to book a table during a 'soft opening' - it's good for the diner's wallet and a learning exercise for the restaurant.  Its not a time for reviews as the restaurant hasn't yet settled into its stride.  If I like the restaurant and feel it's going to be my sort of place, I go back later and pay full price before deciding whether or not to write about it. 

According to some professional reviewers, the lack of negative reviews on a blogger's site means they're not to be trusted.  Yikes, they mean me, so, here's the thing.  I don't expect my readers to wade through a post to find out whether or not I like a place.  If I have a good meal, I go back and if I have another positive experience I write a review.  Very occasionally a place is so spot-on I say so after a first visit.  If I don't have a good meal I don't vent my spleen on my blog, I just vote with my feet.  

Just to be clear, I do not get paid to review, nor do I get myself into situations where I feel I have to write a review.  This means I write about places I really like and that is the only reason you will not find negative reviews on my site.

Thanks for reading.