Monday, August 18, 2014

Rant: Revisiting Restaurants & Updated Reviews

It's true that new restaurants get the lion share of publicity from food writers and restaurant reviewers. In fact, there often is a rush to be the first to review a new spot, though prior etiquette meant reviewers often waited three months or so before reviewing a new restaurant. However, what about those restaurants which have been around at least for a couple years? Don't they deserve publicity too? Shouldn't reviewers update their old reviews to ensure those reviews are still valid?

Restaurants that have been around should not be ignored by reviewers (or customers for that matter). Plenty of consumers still want to know whether they are worthy spots or not. And a four year old review may no longer be valid. Restaurants can change, sometimes drastically, from year to year. In addition, reviewing older spots may help differentiate a reviewer from everyone else who is only reviewing new places.

This issue has come to my mind lately due to a few different matters. First, I give kudos to the Boston Globe for their recent review that revisited two restaurants, Bergamot and Ten Tables, providing an updated status of both spots. It seems this will become a regular aspect of their restaurant reviewing, occasionally revisiting older spots, and that is a great idea.

Second, during my recent trip to Las Vegas, I dined at two restaurants which I had previously visited five years ago. I've re-reviewed both spots, and was pleased to learn that the quality at both restaurants had not diminished. In fact, one of the spots, Abriya Raku, actually seemed to be even better. Five years could have brought so many different changes, whether negative or positive, so I thought it was warranted to revisit those spots and see what time had wrought.

Third, later this week, I'll be reviewing the Blue Ox in Lynn, a restaurant that opened five years ago. Even though it is located only a couple towns over from me, I'd never been there before until recently. It isn't a new restaurant so likely won't come onto the radar of many reviewers, but it is a place worthy of review. It received lots of positive press when it opened, but most of the reviews are a few years old. Maybe it is time those reviews were updated. I enjoy checking out new restaurants, but I appreciate visiting established spots.

So, restaurant reviewers and food writers, do you review older restaurants too, or revisit a place you previously reviewed? If not, why not?

Readers, do you want to read updated reviews of older, established restaurants? If not, why not?


Susan Holaday said...

I don't review but agree that updates are valuable and inform people who might have missed the opening reviews or are just curious about how the place is after being open a few years. As you say, many continue to evolve and improve. Happy to see the Globe recognize that.

MC Slim JB said...

Great that a weekly like the Globe can do that, but it's a luxury that few publications can indulge. At a biweekly like The Improper Bostonian, where I review restaurants, the pace of new openings and the interest of readers puts a priority on new places over revisiting established ones.

Richard Auffrey said...

MC Slim,
I understand the difficulties when a publication schedule is limited. Online writers often have more time and flexibility to revisit restaurants. I was actually surprised that the Globe chose to do so, and will do so more in the future too. Even a weekly publication has space limitations.