Reviewing Restaurants: Bad PR or Be Polite?

Tuesday night was Pittsburgh Restaurant Week's bi-annual Blogger Dinner, this time featured at Sausalido in Bloomfield {thanks for the delish wine, Pittsburgh Winery!}. An interesting topic was brought up among the blogger folk:
When you have a somewhat bad to really terrible dining experience, do you go ahead and blog about it? 

A few fellow bloggers were on the fence, but several said they would not blog about it period, quoting everyone's proverbial mom, "If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say it!"  I do remember my own mom telling me this, then proceeding to ignore it and say what I please. The claim Tuesday night was that you wouldn't want the negative comments coming back and reflecting negatively on you, as a professional, parent or community member. Perhaps because I do not hail from PGH, this isn't a solid issue for me, but I completely understand this for others.

As someone who frequently writes food reviews, I believe in letting them know if they've done something... unsavory, let's say, so they may try to fix it. I'm not a prestigious Pittsburgh food blogger with hundreds of readers, but I'd hope someone would read the review and take something useful from it. In a weird way, choosing to not post a review seems a tinge dishonest.

Readers, what do you think? Would you rather read the good, bad and ugly of a restaurant experience, or just read positive reviews? Is relying on word-of-mouth sufficient for hearing about bad restaurants?
Restaurant folks, what are your thoughts on bloggers writing a negative review?


  1. I appreciate the honesty. If all I read from a writer are glowing reviews, it's hard to really believe them...the reviews seem more like empty endorsements than an honest opinions.

  2. I agree. Some very positive reviews from bloggers almost sound like an endorsements. I believe constructive criticism is the best route.

  3. Pittsburgh HappyHourAugust 15, 2013 at 12:46 PM

    I honestly hate many of our fellow food bloggers because they only focus on the positive. If the food stinks, people should know.

  4. I'm glad you put this topic on your blog, I really enjoyed our conversation and I'm interested in hearing what others sake.

    You know where I stand, but for the sake of those reading on the internets, I'm in the "only positive reviews" camp. There are plenty of experiences that don't go well, but I don't write about them. This is for 2 reasons: (1) my day job is a business disputes lawyer, and I don't want to burn potentials for future work by writing something snarky on my blog, and (2) most of the places I go to are small, locally owned places that I want to see succeed, and I don't want harm local businesses that are trying their best. I have written posts that focus on ways the restaurant can improve, but I still try to keep a positive tone.

    The concerns of the other commenters do ring true for me, though. Sometimes I worry that writing only positive things may make me look fake. Given the 2 issues above, though, it's just something I have to live with.


Thanks for your comment; I'm all ears!