WANTED: GENUINE FOOD CRITICS
Food expertss in Delhi are speaking up against negative reviews by guests; say they have biases and get personal
Is the customer always right? This debate kicked off on the internet after a war of words between a customer and the management of a city restaurant on a popular food review website, last week. Pankaj Sharma, a resident of the city, who apparently had a bad experience at Underdoggs Sports Bar & Grill in Gurgaon, recently, called the staff at the eatery ‘idiots’ and the place ‘useless’ in his review on a food website.
The management did not take his review lightly and retaliated by calling him ‘frustrated’ and advised that he should never visit them again.
Indeed, the popularity of reviewing websites and the new-age trend of everyone turning into a food blogger has put restaurateurs in a tough situation, say industry experts. Chef Manish Mehrotra, whose restaurant bags top scores on popular food reviewing websites, says many a time reviews are not true, deliberately vindictive and are best left ignored. “It’s very easy to post on such sites. I don’t understand why people take it so seriously? We get all sorts of people. Sometimes people find our restaurant expensive and rate it low. But that’s fine. It’s their personal opinion,” says Mehrotra.
Chef and restaurateur Ritu Dalmia says while she has stopped paying heed to such reviews, sometimes reaction is necessary when things turn really ugly. “Today, everyone is a food blogger and critic, even if they lack basic knowledge about food. My problem is not with negative reviews, but with personal comments. Once guests went to the extent of writing in the reviews that they pay for our salaries, cars ... I always reply to this kind of criticism,” says Dalmia.
Restaurateur Shiv Karan Singh agrees, saying, “Guests blackmail saying if you don’t give us free food or discount, we’ll write a
bad review. 90% of these foodies don’t even know the difference between one meat and the other. No restaurant wants to give you a bad experience. Bashing them on public platforms is not fair,” he says.
However, foodies in the city say that restaurants
should learn to take criticism in their stride. “I agree that critics should be balanced and avoid personal comments. But a restaurant can’t pick up the same tone to defend itself either,” says businessman Naresh Goel.