The recent threads about whether a restaurant reviewer should remain anonymous and the propriety of taking photos of restaurant food prompts this comparison. Made me think about the differences, if any, between the restaurant reviews I turn to in my local paper as opposed to the blogs and websites I follow on the internet.
Newspaper food critic -- paid. Blogger -- volunteer.
Food critic -- regular schedule. Blogger -- posts when convenient.
Critic -- big time, Bruni, Reichl, Virbila, Bauer -- influences thousands, can make or break a restaurant. Blogger -- at best influences a handful. For example, I follow The Delicious Life by Sarah in L.A., but more for the writing than for restaurant recs. I contribute comments and suggestions to Bandini for The Great Taco Hunt, and have checked out some places because of his postings. Some major restaurants in SoCal recognize Chowhound, but fewer ethnic places than you'd think -- even many of those that are often cited on the board.
Critic -- should try to remain anonymous. Blogger -- telling the establishment of your blog is equivalent to "Do you know who I am?" to a police officer stopping you.
Critic -- sends a photographer for pics. Blogger -- not only snaps every dish of every course, but reveals the game by first taking shots of the entrance, sign, every page of the menu, but never any people.
Bottom line: I look forward to Wednesday's L.A. Times, where I'll find the weekly food section with a careful review that I often find irrelevant or ridiculously out of touch ("We loved the innovative three-bite miniscule appetizer at $22.). I pick up the L.A. Weekly to read J. Gold and when back home in St. Louis grab Sauce magazine or the Riverfront Times. I have become a Chowhound addict. I catch up on ruhlman.com and egullet, though I still haven't figured out how to follow their postings and replies.
I often punch up the links to blog entries and flicker photo galleries mentioned in Chowhound postings. But as I wrote in response to the question about photographing food in restaurants -- If you are anywhere near me -- no flash. No getting up from your seat for a better angle. If I'm lucky enough to be splurging at Cut or Craft or Mozza and your blogging is distracting me, I'm going to ask the management to require you to cease and desist.
Critic -- if restaurant suspects, tries to impress. Blogger -- restaurant tries to tolerate.