Anonymous Restaurant Reviews: Important or Not?

All that foodies in California have been talking about this week is the very public outing of the LA Times food critic by local restaurant owners a few days before Christmas. Today, the Times turns the brew-ha-ha into a debate on the merits of anonymity in the restaurant review business. In UK and France, newspaper restaurant critics don’t hide the identity the way they do in the US. In fact, most critics are very visible celebrities. And some people say that’s a good thing because it puts every restaurant—from the smallest mom and pop operation to high end emporiums—on equal footing.

Here‘s the original Times story about critic S. Irene Virbila’s experience at Los Angeles restaurant Red Medicine. According to the story, the restaurant staff recognized Virbila, snapped her photograph and swiftly kicked her and her party out of the restaurant. The photo, which was posted on several sites, including Gawker, was accompanied by this quote from Red Medicine’s owner:

Our purpose for posting this is so that all restaurants can have a picture of her and make a decision as to whether or not they would like to serve her. We find that some her reviews can be unnecessarily cruel and irrational, and that they have caused hard-working people in this industry to lose their jobs—we don’t feel that they should be blind-sided by someone with no understanding of what it takes to run or work in a restaurant.


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