Consider this the appendix to this week's Dish column about how restaurateurs are reacting to the proliferation of anonymous online reviews.
I've pulled a few of the posts referenced in the article from Yelp and Citysearch and republished them here. Decide for yourself if you think they're fair.
1. Heartland I look at the menu, it is twice the price of my favorite restaurant , however there is a bountiful list of food listed on each item. We splurge, we take the three course meal. The waitress will substitute ice cream for the third course, since I have food problems. Now, where I come from, bread is served with every meal. So the joke of a bad meal is that you have to live on the bread. Well, at Heartland you have live on the bread, which is served first and I can't eat. Then came an appetizer the size of a quarter (I am not joking), served on a big plate. Oh that is just complimentary. The real appetizer comes next, a 3-4 inch diameter of food on a big plate, about 1/4 of what I would expect. It was good, or maybe I was just very hungry. Then the main course comes out, 4 thin slices of lamb hiding a tiny tiny amount of potatoes and carrots. I ask the waitress if I could have more potatoes and carrots, she says there would be a surcharge. I decline. It was good, or maybe I was just very hungry. Even in Europe I had more of a serving for lunch. Then desert came, four small scoops of ice cream. It was good, or maybe I was just very hungry. I think I could have gotten more food walking around the taste testers at Sam's club. My husband was there, or I would have gone begging to kitchen. "Please, just a bit more food, I am very hungry". -thegracekelly
2. Sea Salt
So DIRTY...need to clean it up!
I love the food at Sea Salt but it really needs a good hosing down. I've been there several times in the last few months and it keeps getting worse. The sidewalks are greasy and the floors inside dirty/dirt in the corners. Once even complete with a dead plant at the cash register.
Over Memorial weekend the tables and chairs were filthy, ice cream was all over the arms of my chair and cocktail sauce all over the table. I had to find someone to clean it up. All the while I see the yoga pants-ed owner as usual lounging with friends.
Not to mention they have to get rid of all the cheesy trophy's and bad framed photos strewn about with no rhyme or reason. Not that it has to be some Parasole/Phil Roberts concept, but seriously?
All the business they get you'd think they could afford to hire a good cleaning crew. Maybe they are just getting lazy or cocky but no matter how good your food is it can ruin your appetite when the atmosphere is disgusting. -Frankie G.
3. Meritage The service was so slow that we could not leave the restaurant in two hours. As it took so long to finish our meal, my baby started crying by the end of the night and the owner of the restaurant literally kicked us out from the restaurant. My worry was she did not do this until I signed the check! She was the meanest and rudest restaurant owner I had ever seen! For a new restaurant trying to gain new clients and create a positive word of mouth, I found her behavior very unwise. She argued with me almost up roaring when I told her that she can not behave her customers in such a way. She was totally unreasonable and ruined all our night. I was not expecting to have such a treat. Meritage is a failure in every sense. I can understand the restaurant owners trying to create a fancy place with no baby cries, but this is not the way to teach your clients after having made them spend all the time and money. A person who can not comprehend that a 10 month old baby is not able to behave at 7 pm, can no way make the rest of the customers happy. --ertannur
4. The Birchwood Cafe We got there at 8:59 and found a line of older flabby spandex wearing bikers jockeying for first place like it was the friggin tour de france. Maybe that dude was just doing the prostate pee pee dance after his testicle crushing ride, who knows. That and the kids. OMG! Do they really have to eat out? Can't you leave them at home and throw them some kibble when you return? One kid was splashing his little filthy hands in the doggie water bowl, which made me feel bad for the doggies, but then I realized that dogs lick their own butts and eat their own poop, so who cares. Should I talk about the food? Not other than to say it is wonderful. We came once for dinner and wasn't that impressed. --Zachary S.
5. Tiger Sushi Ralph "the 'read nick'" M. says: Tiger Sushi 2 seems to have received a lot of 5 star reviews from brand new, one review only "Yelpers". Prior to about a week ago, they had an overall negative rating (mostly from more established Yelpers).
I've been meaning to check the place out;. It's in my neighborhood and my girlfriend enjoyed their MOA location, but I don't like seeing astroturf review fraud.
rhonda "rockin rhonda" g. says: Not only that but they all only give 2 pieces of information, where from & since June. Unless all the ones on the 18th were sitting together its more than a coincidence for me. Like I'm gonna ignore Kedar and Sal. Thank you Ralph for pointing this out. I hate bullshit. I don't know about anyone else, but it's enough for me to boycott. I'd make a new list, but I can't since I will never go there.
melissa l. says: That's so fishy! Pardon the pun. Should we flag these reviews?
Ralph "the 'read nick'" M. says: I usually like a higher burden of proof before flagging a review, the problem here is not so much any of the individual review, but the collective stink coming from them.
I know in California Yelp has some algorithm by which suspicious reviews are purged, I don't know if that's in application here. Perhaps Sarah will chime in with a suggestion.
There is a tricky balance here. If someone only wants to write a single Yelp review and never use the site again, that's not the problem. It's when they are not writing honest reviews or are not disclosing a conflict of interest.