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August 17, 2009

What do you do about a bad review?

SeafoodPappas.jpgI was thinking this morning -- as I checked my e-mail and saw there was yet another e-mail about my Pappas review -- about how restaurants handle bad reviews. In the case of Pappas, of course, bad is a little strong. Less than enthusiastic might be a better description.

I don't know if the restaurant asked its loyal customers to write me or if it was simply a spontaneous eruption of outrage that's still deeply felt, but that's one way to counteract a bad review. Or to simply express your anger. ...

Another way restaurant owners have responded in the past is to write a Letter to the Editor. Or these days with the blog they could write me and I would post their rebuttal once I confirmed it was theirs.

Or they could respond the way Piv's Pub did to Richard's review, which I thought was incredibly clever.

It reminds me of Gizmodo post last spring about how San Francisco's Pizzeria Delfina responded to bad Yelp reviews. The restaurant had T-shirts printed up with the worst comments on them for the servers to wear.

But back to the Pappas e-mail this morning. I wasn't ready to handle a lot of rage this morning so I put off opening it. When I did, here's what it said. (There's some Zen principle here I violated by  too much anticipation.)

I read your review and don't doubt a word.  And not to demean anyone, I grew up in Hamilton, and regularly drove by Pappas most of my time in Baltimore, it's the ideal setting for the local residents.  As you said, nothing fancy; probably the same dishes prepared the same way for years and the locals love it (or at least see no need for change); kinda like the old Sip 'n Bite or Jimmy's in Fells Point, the steak place on Frederick Road in Catonsville, Kibby's and one or two places on Fort Avenue (although they may have changed direction since I left B'more). Is the house of Welsh still open?  That was a favorite of my parents in the 50's and 60's.


(Tasha Treadwell/Sun photographer)

Posted by Elizabeth Large at 11:13 AM | | Comments (4)


Haven't seen it mentioned but Piv's updated their sign to
"best 4 star dive on york road"
Is there a "Dive Review" out there?

Link pleeze ;-)

This is your lucky day
. EL

I can't speak for anybody else, but unless there are obvious health or sanitary issues noted, I don't think I have ever avoided a restaurant due to a bad review (no disrespect intended). If the menu sounds interesting, I am willing to give a place as there are too many subjective factors that go in to a dining experience. If anything, I have found that extremely positive reviews have in several cases led to unrealistic expectations that have led to disappointment.

On the other hand, I have learned never to read movie reviews, as generally the only movies to receive good reviews involve actors wearing powdered wigs. Music reviews aren't much better.

I was thinking about this the other day. I know there are restaurants I grew up with and love that a professional reviewer would not like. I would read the review and think why are they picking on this place? We love it the way it is! Poor service? Don't they know to slip the bus boy an extra $5 and then the water and bread basket are never empty? Bad food? Everyone knows not to order what they had to eat!

After I ate at Jennings I couldn't believe a place serving the poor quaility food they do could still be in business. Yet they are. I don't know how you felt when you left Pappas but I left Jennings thinking I had to have missed something.

Yes, exactly. EL

I was going to suggest a top ten blue collar restaurants for Labor Day, but I think that genre was more or less covered with the top ten dive bars that have good grub.

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About this blog
Richard Gorelick was appointed The Baltimore Sun's restaurant critic in September 2010. Before joining the paper staff fulltime, he contributed freelance criticism and features articles about food to area and regional publications. Along the way, he dispatched for short-distance trucking companies, shilled for cultural non-profits, and assisted in cognitive neurology research – never the subject, always the control.

He takes restaurants seriously but not himself, and his favorite restaurant is the one you love, too.

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