Even for something as politically benign and helpful as a consumer restaurant review site like Yelp.com, everything on the Internet succumbs to what can only be described as “people being shitheads.” Now, I’m not saying the site isn’t useful. If it hadn’t been for Yelp, I’d still be rooting through my neighbors garbage cans trying to find a good sandwich place. I’m just saying that there are some things to consider when you’re using the site. The biggest tip I can give a novice Yelp user, is to actually read the reviews along with the 1 – 5 star rating. Generally speaking, they’re usually straight forward and fairly accurate. If there was a problem, they’ll concisely explain and you can weigh if something like slow service is a deal breaker for you or not. But, there are a lot of extraneous variables to consider when reading a review (the shitheads I was talking about earlier): The Connoisseur – These are Yelp experts with the most mature and particular palates, or at least that’s what they’d like you to think. Most likely they’re just elitist assholes who have a physiological need to strongly disagree with the majority. Think 15-year-old music snob from a culturally barren Midwestern town whose favorite band is still Slipknot. The easiest way to pick these reviews out is if they’re rating disagrees with the vast majority of the other reviewers (i.e. if they gave a restaurant a 1 star when the other 100+ reviews average to a 4 star).
They’ll always start off with a sentence that intends to make the people who genuinely liked the restaurant look like bumbling idiots while simultaneously making themselves feel superior for hating it. Something like “I’ve had much better (insert type of food here),” which is usually followed by name dropping their favorite place. This suggestion will most likely be worse than the restaurant being reviewed, but it doesn't really matter since The Connoisseur will win either way. If The Connoisseur’s suggestion is actually better, then he was right. If you feel it’s the same or worse, then you’ll be ridiculed for having poor taste. The International – They are usually from same country where the cuisine is from or at least the same region. They give the restaurant 5 stars, a brilliant review and an endorsement of “just like my Mom use to make back in X.” Seems great right? Wrong. I can’t speak for everyone but I can safely say, most people won’t like it how they “do it back home.” I first discovered The International when I went to a Korean place called Ondal 2 known for their “spicy crab soup” and realized my group was the only non-Koreans in the 50+ person restaurant and subsequently realized most of the reviewers had Asian names. Even though I consider myself very open minded, especially when it comes to food, I was very much out of my league. Maybe I should actually travel outside of the U.S. before I say that. Keep you eye out for the review that starts off with something like “This was my first time going to a genuine...” and they'll usually have a similar palate as you.
The Unyielding– Why would you go to a type of restaurant fully knowing you’re going to dislike it? And on top of that, why do you feel the need to inform the Internet about it? The Unyielding are usually found in fairly exotic restaurants reviews and can be identified by a 1-star rating and an opening statement prefacing how a few years ago they tried X type of food and they hated it, and decided to try it again. Good for you. Asshole. I can understand you giving the cuisine another shot, but you don’t need to go out of your way to give the restaurant a poor rating and a scathing review. It’s like overhearing a geriatric couple in a movie theater complaining how there’s “too much violence and sex in this movie” and the movies called Mr. Boner’s Murder Brigade. THEN DON’T GO. If you need an example of The Unyielding just search for Ethiopian food in your area and get ready to have an ice pick stabbed through your logic membrane. The Enthusiastic – I’m all for getting a lot of opinions, but if you find it necessary to write a review for a Subway, you should probably reevaluate where you are in life. There’s a fine line between being meticulous and being completely asinine. And if you even mention the phrase “sandwich artist,” I’ll give you a ten second head start before I murder you and your whole family.
The Malcontent – About 90% of the time, The Malcontent is a woman. 100% of the time, they can never be happy. The review will usually get down to business fairly quickly. It will always be harsh, brutal and completely and utterly baseless. You’d never think someone would get incensed because the restaurant is valet-only parking or the fact they didn’t have limes instead of lemons. But I assure you, if it’s on Yelp, it will be one of the most hilariously long diatribes about how the restaurant didn’t have Kettle One vodka you’ll ever read. After the multi-paragraph rant, it will make a complete 180° closing statement: “The food was amazing, the service was always fast and the atmosphere is unrivaled.” After reading it, you will be left in a state of WTF. The Economist - I mean, really. How can you be surprised when a 5-star sushi restaurant in Beverly Hills is ball-bustingly expensive? Apparently where The Economist is from, babies poop foie gras and barf truffles, hail is a mix of Beluga caviar and Crystal champage, and the main food staple is cocaine battered fatty tuna. Actually, I'm pretty sure I just described Dubai. But I digress... If you're worried about cost, might I suggest you look at the fucking "price-range" that Yelp provides for your convenience. If it costs more than $40 a person, The Economist will expect the food to be so good that it makes the whole dinner party cream their pants simultaneously. Would that be awesome? Yes. But is it tragically unrealistic? Yes.
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