From the latest issue of Stuff at Night, a Boston lifestyle biweekly, a piece entitled "What's Cooking?" that interviews eight Boston-area chefs:
"Rebecca Newell (chef at The Beehive): What sucks a little bit about the foodies is that sometimes they have no idea what it takes to put together some of the items and put the menu in a streamlined [manner]. Beehive is known for an eclectic menu, but how to string it all together and how to open up an 80-seat patio and have it collaborate with the menu inside and have two different things going? It’d be great if you published this because I would appreciate it, but someone said on Chowhound, “What kind of idiot is running Beehive kitchen?” And I was like, “You wanna try it on? You can come in and wear this chef coat. You’ll cry in an hour.”
Will Gilson (Garden at the Cellar): That’s the other thing. Chowhound and Citysearch and things ike that make it so hard for you to feel as though you’re in control. For the longest time, it was just the reviewers in the city that were writing those articles. And now anybody can write whatever they want about you and it’s on there.
Mary Dumont (Harvest): You open your restaurant and, boom, up comes a blog.
Gilson: Yeah, up comes a blog [on] Chowhound that says, like, “I went there and everything sucked.” And it’s like, okay, that guy got fired that day, came, and had a really bad time. And now I’ve got to listen to this rant.
Newell: The guy that called me an idiot said, “I have never been to Beehive, but whoever’s running that kitchen must be an idiot.”"
I agree with Newell's comment that it's unfair to get criticized by someone who hasn't tried your restaurant; it's worth noting that the mods swiftly removed the "idiot" comment she's complaining about. But I have to shake my head at the "If you think it's so easy, you try it" comment. The issue most Hounds have with places they don't like isn't that *they* think they could do a better job, but that the chef's competitors are doing a better job.
I continue to be amazed at how restaurateurs overestimate the power of boards like this. If your place isn't full, it's not because some Chowhound bad-mouthed it: it's because of your failure to offer an experience of value equal to your competition. I'm not suggesting it's easy to "make a menu collaborate with the patio", but I don't believe a critic of any stripe can make a restaurant succeed or fail: at least not if you're not Frank Bruni.