There's been some concern and confusion over the issues of Chowdowns lately, and we wanted to address those questions.
We encourage hounds to get together and dine, but we ask that they keep in mind the spirit of the site when they do so. Chowhound is a diner-to-diner conversation, with everyday customers simply talking to each other and sharing tips. Chowhound is a powerful tool, but whether for groups or individuals, it should never be a promise (or, in other situations, a threat) used to get special treatment. And even where that was never the intent, it can be the result -- just telling a restaurant you're from Chowhound can skew the dynamic.
Reports on Chowhound should, as much as possible, represent the experience any regular customer of a restaurant could expect. If the restaurant has been told that the group coming to dine with them is from Chowhound (and thus, that if they impress, they can expect lots of public adulation), it's not in keeping with the spirit of the site.
If a restaurant is the sort that will do a tasting menu for any large group (and many will, these days), it's fine to organize a tasting event, as long as you can do so without bringing the fact that you're planning to post about the event into the mix. If they do know that the group is from Chowhound, unfortunately, we can't allow reports on that dinner back to the boards, as the dinner itself won't necessarily have offered a true picture of what the restaurant would have done for regular diners.
Our Etiquette for Chowdowns and other Gatherings is here: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/36760...
-- Jacquilynne, Community Manager for Chowhound