Friday, September 24, 2010

Question for other food bloggers

Hypothetically, of course...

Suppose a friend or relative invited you out to a bar or restaurant that happened to be owned by an acquaintance of theirs. Knowing that you write a blog in which you review restaurants or specific food items (such as veggie burgers!), your friend or relative encouraged you to review what you ordered from the menu, saying "don't write anything bad about this place, though!"

If the meal was disappointing, or flat out terrible, would you go ahead and write the review?

I am very much against censorship. And in regards to my blog specifically, I think it would defeat the whole purpose if I left out reviews as a favor to a friend of a friend or whatever, just because they contain criticism. It's not because I fancy myself a journalist with certain ethics of that field to uphold, but it's because I'm so passionate about this project.

My goal for this blog is that eventually it will become a super-useful archive of all the veggie burgers in NYC (and as far outside of the city as I travel!). This will take me several years, of course - not even considering all the new restaurants that will open during that time period, or all the existing ones that might add veggie burgers to their menus in the meantime. But it's a longterm goal. And if I should ever come close to reaching it, I don't want to have any burgers omitted from that archive of information just to protect a restaurant's reputation.

If a restaurant owner ever read a negative review of mine, and was inspired to improve the quality of the veggie burger on his menu, I would more than happily return to give them a second try - and a glowing review, if it was indeed improved.

I'm not out to destroy anyone's reputation with what I write here - I think it would be pretty crazy to think that one little vegetarian blog could do that, anyway. I'm just trying to document information, which was originally only for my own purposes (to help me remember where the best veggie burgers were) but is now something I want to share with others who may find it useful as well. And warnings about bad veggie burgers are a key part of that information.


  1. I think you should be honest. If they cared that much about you writing somethign bad about the burger then they should make sure they burger was good in the first place. Then they would have nothing to worry about

  2. That's a rough situation your friend put you in. I think you need to let him or her know your opinion before you put anything up here.

  3. In my opinion, the answer is diplomacy. Even if you share that the burger wasn't fantastic, you could certainly point out other wonderful attributes about the experience (service, atmosphere, etc.); people can usually pick up on the overall nuance. But I agree with you, all inclusive! Bummer that someone put you in that position, though.

  4. I say, go there. Eat the burger. But first warn your friend that you're going to write an honest review. If that's going to be a problem, don't go.

    But I bet the burger isn't terrible. Hell, it might be fantastic. If your friend's friend really cares about offering the best product possible, he or she may appreciate the constructive criticism.

    My day job is a journalist for an alt-weekly and I'm often faced with having to write critiques. But lucky for most people, I'm not very picky. However, if I didn't like something, I'd definitely say so in a review. Got those fancy J-school ethics to uphold. :-)

  5. That is a tricky situation! I would talk to your friend and tell her how to honestly feel about the burger. I definitely think you should give your honest opinion, and if you let your friend know, they should understand.

    I would try to be more diplomatic, and maybe describe the other good things about the place.

    Good luck!

  6. thanks for the comments!

    to clarify - this "hypothetical" situation involves a restaurant owned by a friend of a family member. I am not friends with this owner myself.

    I do strongly believe in posting honest reviews and not omitting a review just because it is negative - but I definitely agree with everyone who suggested noting other positive things about the restaurant if the burger was the only bad thing.

    If our positions were switched and I invited a food-blogging friend to another friend's restaurant, I would certainly feel bad for my restaurant-owning friend if the blogger wrote a bad review of the establishment, but I would understand and not be mad at the blogger for it.

  7. I think it's a pretty easy situation, actually, because it's easy to figure out where the harm is.

    If the burger is bad, not writing the review hurts no one, not even you.

    If it's important to you to write the review, visit the restaurant independently and do not order a veggie burger during your visit with your friend.