May I say, as a Chowhound browser, that I've seen the gamut of opinions. Nevertheless, I've noticed a common thread running throughout many of the responses from Chowhounders. (Disclaimer: I am only speaking for those people in New York since that is where I live and can examine the truth of their words.) That common thread is PRETENSION. Let me explain myself, before I get the slew of nasty replies.
Curious about what fellow-New Yorkers thought of the various restaurants around the city, I searched the site for some opinions. I heard raves and glorious praises to the umpteenth level about such restaurants as Sripraphai and about that enigmatic Arepa Lady. (Enough praise to make me think that they were drugging their food.) So, based on the overwhelming support for such establishments, I decided to go and try various places out for myself. Although the food was pretty good, it was not as earth-shattering as the clamors that I had heard. I went a few times to these various establishments, ordering different dishes in hopes of experiencing that high holy moment of food bliss I had read about. Still no luck.
Upon looking back at these comments, I can only come to one conclusion... there is a lot of pretension going on here. The interesting thing is that this is reverse-pretension. Although I haven't seen many posts about the holy status of Balthazar (which is the "common pretension"), I've seen far too many posts about those dark-alley, side-street, out-of-the-way, no-white-folks-in-it places that the rest of those ignorant New Yorkers haven't discovered yet. I admit that they may be pretty good, but not worth the exaltation that they have received. My guess is that their rave reviews have partially been fueled by the natural tendency of people to toot their own horns regarding anything unique and "undiscovered".
I'm sure that a thousand rationalizations for those rave reviews are running through your heads. But before you instinctively dismiss what I've said, just give it some more thought.