By Larry Sheingold –
(This is one of an occasional series by Larry Sheingold exploring the world of volunteer internet dining reviews.)
With apologies to the musical, Hair. This is the dawning of the Age of Commentaryus.
We’ve always had opinions. Always shared them. But thanks to the internet, never has so much commentary been offered for public consumption about public consumption.
By any analysis, most volunteer restaurant critiques are not inspired by the gospel of Hair’s Age of Aquarius – which promised harmony and understanding with sympathy and trust abounding. No. In the Age of Commentaryus, peace does not necessarily guide the planets, nor does love steer the stars.
Take, for instance, this review: “If the aliens come, I hope they beam this restaurant’s 10 block radius up into their spaceship and leave in disgust.”
Puts me in mind of Art Linkletter, whose “Kids Say The Darnedest Things” featured unintentionally amusing youngsters saying darned things like, “I want to be a scientist so I can win the Pulit Surprise.”
Today’s on-line dining reviewers are the new Linkletter kids. An ever-growing source of you-can’t-make-this-stuff-up moments. Here are a few of the latest eye-catchers – reflections of the Age of Commentaryus.
Dining in my own image
“Most disturbingly, there is a mirror that runs around the section of the restaurant that I was sitting in – right at face level. I essentially sat next to myself during dinner, a choice I would not have made. And, everywhere I turned, there I was, eating. It was like being in a horror movie.”
Dining with my peeps
“Dunking Donut shop is better. They may be not as clean or tidy but they give you the respect and the manager does not falsely accuse you of voyeurism.”
“The squab didn’t taste so bad after I stopped thinking of flying rats in NYC and started thinking of, well, pigeon.”
“When we called over our waiter, he took the oyster shell, smelled it, and proclaimed AND YOU ATE IT?!?! Definitely not the first words you want your waiter to say.
“But seriously, this place is like communist or something. If you can’t afford it you gotta limit yourself to specific dishes at a specific time. There’s no freedom in this menu.”
“Another reason I like eating here is that it goes right through me. Right through. Sometimes, I have to pedal harder or pass on yard sale gems, just to make it home on time.”
“By the time our breakfast came it was lunchtime and I was hardly in the mood for what I ordered.”Fast food
“The ‘person’ who brought me here, and I question his humanity now, was too busy trying to plan his escape route to avoid paying our tab to actually let me enjoy my food.”
“The corn beef and hash leaves a lot to be desired and resembles Alpo.”
“Don’t get me wrong, sometimes I dig inauthenticity. Must run in my family. It’s how my nephew seems to choose his partners’ breasts more often than not.”
The Broadway musical Hair was born of the 1960’s hippie counter culture. Today we have our own counter culture – it has just spread from the counter to the entire restaurant and from there to the computer keyboard.
As OpenTable, Livebookings and others fight for the on-line restaurant reservation dollar and Yelp, Urbanspoon and a host of sites compete for voice-of-the-people dining review supremacy, two things are clear: the internet and dining industries are locked together; and it is not always about letting the sunshine in.
(EDITOR’S NOTE: The above are real quotes from real people on real food blogs. They also are evidence of the reason why the restaurant recommendation web site atLarrys.com is not open for input by the general public. www.atlarrys.com does recommendations, not reviews. The co-hosts at atLarrys.com are committed to telling you of places where they think you will enjoy eating, not places you won’t enjoy.)