ReviewerCard: Your ticket to a cheap and tasty meal out - or a recipe for gob in your soup?
Everyone is a critic these days. But can the threat of a bad review get the consuming public fawning service and a decent discount? John Walsh investigates
Prolific writer and commentator John Walsh contributes columns to the paper as well as writing features, interviews and restaurant reviews. He has been editor of The Independent Magazine, literary editor of the Sunday Times and features editor of the London Evening Standard.
Wednesday 23 January 2013
Restaurant critics are, by and large, an anonymous crew. They don’t broadcast their intention to review an eating-house, they seldom book a table in their real names, they refrain from scribbling ostentatious notes about the dishes while eating them. And they never tell the waiters that they’ve come to evaluate the meal, décor and service.
Their photo-bylines can give them away, of course; some chefs keep a rogue’s gallery of byline photos in the kitchen so they can identify Fay Maschler or AA Gill and alert the waiting troops to make a special fuss. It’s happened to me. I’ve been offered the odd bribe: “Mr Walsh, look here – a customer ordered this £45 bottle of Cote Rotie, hardly touched it and has now left. It seems a shame to waste it, so I’ll just leave it here for you to pour yourself a glass…”
But the profile of food critics has grown, along with that of masterchefs, in the last decade, and now every foodie with an itch for self-expression wants his own column. Hence the rise of bloggers, and people who write reviews for the TripAdvisor and Yelp websites. Some are very good; others are afflicted by an ungentlemanly exulting in the power they supposedly wield over a restaurant’s fortunes, the poor benighted saps.
Now they have an ally. Brad Newman, an LA dental marketing executive (nope, me neither) has invented ReviewerCard, which reviewers can flash when visiting restaurants, in the hope of getting fawning service. Brad boasts that he routinely asks hotels for 50 per cent discounts in return for a five-star review. He charges online reviewers $100 for a card, and has had 100 takers so far -- though he’s dished out 400 to friends whom he thinks warrant special treatment, just because they’re, you know, wonderful folks.
The LA Times pointed out that Brad’s cards carry the implied threat of a nasty review if the reviewer isn’t indulged, pampered and made a fuss of. “It’s not a threat,” he countered. “It’s a way to get the service you deserve.”
I suspect Brad and his pals will indeed get the service they deserve. Having an arrogant little twerp flash a card and demand to be treated especially well tends, I am told, to give kitchen staff a terrible urge to gob in his soup, insert earwax in his terrine and give his raw sirloin steak a thorough wipe around the sous-chef’s genitals before it’s served up with a lovely smile.
elephant appealThe first 23 lots in our charity auction have now gone. But there are 22 more still up for grabs
musicPolice chief rejects rappers' claims that his work is as dangerous as law enforcement or military service
comedy'Fresh Meat' star sees off stiff competition from Alan Carr, David Mitchell, Graham Norton, Lee Mack and Sarah Millican to win top prize
healthJames Bond's alcohol consumption puts him at 'high risk' of cirrhosis, tremors... and impotence
Beatles rush out 'bootleg' album to defy EU copyright law
Harvey Weinstein reveals his secret weapon on-set
Now that an oil trader's drinking has got him sacked, will we all have to make do with an afternoon latte?
Life & Style blogs
The 50 Best Christmas Gifts for Women
Foodini: the £835 machine that 'prints' food in your kitchen
Physicists discover 'clearest evidence yet' that the Universe is a hologram
In pictures: Christmas in London through the ages
Pirate Bay sets sail for Ascension Island after SX domain name seized by authorities
- 1 French café starts charging extra to rude customers
- 2 Italian court annuls prison sentence for elderly paedophile after 11-year-old victim tells investigators in Catanzaro that she loves him
- 3 Australia incest case: Deformed children found in remote farming community after generations of inbreeding
- 4 Physicists discover 'clearest evidence yet' that the Universe is a hologram
- 5 Fox News presenter tells viewers it is a 'fact' that both Jesus and Santa Claus are white
- < Previous
- Next >
iJobs Food & Drink
£21000 - £27000 per annum + Benefits: Corporate Traveller: We're looking for t...
£23000 - £27000 per annum + £18K & Uncapped Commission & Benefits: Flight Cent...
£30000 - £35000 per annum: Flight Centre Limited: Exceptional opportunity for ...
£23000 - £27000 per annum + Award-Winning Benefits: Round The World Experts: L...