There was a time when newspapers and magazines would help us stay updated with the latest in food and dining including restaurant reviews. And then social media, user reviews and food blogs happened, which changed the game totally. In a nutshell, restaurant reviews have now started influencing us about where and what to eat in a big way.
On this week's Adda With Kalyan, we got talking about 'The Art of Restaurant Reviewing' where Kalyan Karmakar chatted with India's top food writer, Vir Sanghvi, new-age food and lifestyle writer, Purva Mehra of The Daily Pao, and celebrity chef and restaurateur, Rahul Akerkar to discuss what is the game all about.
Akerkar who brought to Mumbai, Indigo, a restaurant serving European food in the late 90s strongly believes that reviews are important. But, if the writer/ critic is inexperienced about what he is reviewing in terms of the cuisine and ingredients, that is an issue.
Vir Sanghvi, who has been dabbling in the space since time immemorial is of the opinion that the Internet has changed the game with reviewers threatening restaurants that they'd post a negative review if he/ she was not attended to. He says, "In many ways, restaurant reviewing is like reviewing Hindi cinema where you are talking about a commercial enterprise." Sanghvi also points out that reviews by the Indian mass media don't have the power to make or break a restaurant unlike the West.
Purva, who is the co-founder of a Mumbai-based food and lifestyle website suggests that restaurants today are resorting to marketing activities where bloggers and food writers are reviewing these brands on the pretext of an event. That way reviewers end up praising the restaurant, which is not fair.
Having said that, once a restaurant is launched, it is open for scrutiny. But, Akerkar feels that establishments should be allowed some time to settle in. And, have reader expectations changed over the years? Sanghvi says that there are different kinds of people out there, who may be checking out a particular review for light reading, and may not visit the restaurant the same day.
To sum up, restaurant reviewing has moved on and with the process becoming democratised and social media influence, it is a good time for diners to make the right choice as far as eating out is concerned.