WANTED: GEN­UINE FOOD CRIT­ICS

Food expertss in Delhi are speak­ing up against neg­a­tive re­views by guests; say they have bi­ases and get per­sonal

Hindustan Times (Patna) - Live - - Front Page - Aditi Caroli ■ aditi. caroli@ hin­dus­tan­times. com

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.

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