Ask the Critic: What Kinds of Responses Do You Get to Negative Reviews?

One of our freelancers recently wondered what kind of feedback, if any, comes in after I've given a negative restaurant review.

Well, it's been a mixed bag over the years.

Most of the time, I'm greeted with silence, leaving me to wonder whether any of my constructive criticism sank in. Of course, I don't expect a response no matter how good or how bad the review is.

A couple times, I've gotten thoughtfully written, very gracious apoolgies from restaurant owners asking me to give their establishments another chance. A few months ago, the head chef of a local eatery wrote to acknowledge that problems were being immediately addressed. I'm never able to go back and immediately do another review, but nevertheless, such gestures have helped my impressions of certain places.

One time, I wrote a cheeky critique that somehow inspired the chef to send a long email rant calling me homophobic, which got a chuckle from my gay friends who know better. It was bizarre.

And just a few months back, one restaurant owner sicced his mom on me. (Really, dude? You have to get mom to speak for you? Why not just have her cook while you're at it?) It was pretty funny, because mom fancied herself a discerning ex-New Yorker (lady, half the people I'm friends with here are ex-New Yorkers) -- and there was no arguing with her.

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