I ’m never one to malign somebody for what they do, or don’t do. I simply don’t have that kind of time to waste. Which is why when people tell me they are a level ‘n’ foodie on Zomato or a Gold or plus member with EazyDiner, and other similar eating-out table booking apps, I give them as much mind space as I reserve for aliens plotting on Mars. Actually, scratch that, I am still somewhat curious about those aliens. But that entire ilk of people is as inconsequential to me as the ravings of a lunatic standing at an intersection, possibly somewhere in Antarctica.
I was okay with people using online reviews to decide if they wish to visit a place, I just knew it wasn’t necessarily my choice of path to take. After all, maybe it’s just me, or perhaps I have issues but I find trusting myself much easier than someone I don’t know or have ever met. So, when I chance upon a restaurant that is not to my taste, and believe me there are many out there, I simply grumble a bit and decide to never go back. For example, I can’t remember when I last visited Farzi, MKT Cafe, Lord of Drinks or Social. And it’s fine really, for the outlets that I personally may abandon will still go on to do exceedingly well and cater to their clientele and everyone will be happy at the end of the day. Similarly, when I find a place I truly like —Saz, Home bar at Director’s Cut, Hong Kong Club, Artusi, Comorin—I make it a regular haunt. Either way, the only place I mention such is in my peer group.
My writings rarely carry reviews, although, today, in an act somewhat unbecoming of me, I have allowed myself to share names above in both good and bad light. And the reason I have done that is to try and highlight, in similar vein, the injustice that many such online authorities commit. Their general lack of knowledge in the subject combined with a seriously unprofessional attitude ends up promoting outlets where they either (A) stand to benefit from their association or (B) they serve fare which might appeal to them personally but may not find similar popular appeal.
Nothing celebrates mediocrity like mediocrity and this adage is reflected sharply in the plethora of awards being doled out by bloggers and the likes. But that’s not all. For the question remains as to what defines truly authoritative and reliably respectable for even some of the top awards handed out by the long-standing national journals of our country with intimidatingly heavy-duty names on their jury panels are about as sincere as a politician in their selection process? So, in the end, I am back to where I began except for one small difference. Don’t just not trust self-proclaimed foodies, reserve some of that scepticism even for the more established critics. The only person most reliable here is yourself. Next time you hear of a new place, go and check it out yourself. If you like it, reward them with repeat patronage, spreading the word, and maybe a generous tip. If you don’t like the space simply tell them politely and if they don’t seem receptive, simply don’t go back. For this is the only kind of reviews that should ever matter.
The writer is a sommelier. email@example.com