Before writing the review, I have investigated the Food Blogger Code of Ethics to make sure all bases are covered and I can in good conscience pen a gnarly review.
- I have visited this restaurant multiple times. No less than 5, and probably more than that. I started dining at this restaurant when it was a new steakhouse, and indeed a hot place to dine. I continued to dine here because I like the architecture of the hotel it lives in, the ambiance of the restaurant, have always had good service, it is not far from my house and is in a good neighborhood for evening walking after dinner. And the food has previously always been good.
- In the 5+ visits to the restaurant, I have definitely sampled a wide range of items from the menu, and even last night the menu was well represented. Oysters, two appetizers, one entree, a side dish and 3 sauces. This seems a fair amount of items on which to judge, one or even a couple items could be bad and still have had a great dining experience.
- This is not a new restaurant. Having a hard time gleaning their opening date from their website, the earliest review on Yelp is August 2006, and some investigation on Eater LA tells me they did open in 2006.
- I did not receive an item for free, and indeed despite lots of questions and a tiny point-and-shoot (no flash), our bartender/server did not recognize me as a food blogger.
- I am not anonymous. People can respond to what I write, my photo is on my blog and anyone can chit chat with me on Twitter with my blog names as my Twitter ID. @foodshethought.
So, why the hesitance in ripping this restaurant to shreds for several things? What things, you might ask.
- Our server was either insane, drunk, high or all three. He told us he hadn't slept in days and his behavior was manic. He poured us lukewarm champagne, asked us questions about our order and turning around to put the qualifications in the register immediately turned around to ask us the same question again (more than once). Having fun, he slid our waters down the bar toward us from the other end, and the sliding glasses ran into the menu and spilled all over our place settings and my rather nice-ish handbag. The bar was close to empty and the restaurant was 1/2 full, yet he commented several times that he felt slammed.
- The oysters, while fresh, were mangled. D made excuses saying there is probably some dishwasher filling in as pantry chef, but truly one can learn to properly shuck an oyster in about 5 minutes. Working as a bartender at a seafood restaurant in San Francisco in my twenties, I have shucked hundreds of them. If it is mangled beyond recognition, don't serve it.
- The flavor of the food was bad. From the oily tarragon oyster vinaigrette, the unfresh sprouts on a hamachi crudo plate, the watery tomato brine around a crab bloody mary, to a thickly salt encrusted steak (a deer would have been thrilled to lick this sucker) & a vegetable side dish out of a can during summer with said vegetable in season, the food was bad.
Looking at Cyberjournalist.net's A Bloggers' Code of Ethics while reflecting on this issue, I suppose it has something to do with item #2, Minimize Harm. "Show compassion for those who may be affected adversely by Weblog content." We are in the midst of trying economic times. Restaurants are closing all over the city, and new places are having troubles getting up and running. Fine dining is being challenged by excellent offerings at lower prices in fun venues and formats all over the city, including high profile chefs opening less expensive restaurants and food trucks with delicious offerings at bargain basement prices. Writing a truly honest review about an experience this bad would hurt the restaurant's bottom line, and chances are according to last night's number of clients they are already hurting. I don't want someone to get fired (he was very friendly and nice, and apparently just went through a bad breakup, I blame it on her), and I don't want restaurant management in trouble with higher up hotel management.
When discussing the Food Blog Code of Ethics and the more general A Bloggers' Code of Ethics with friends and bloggers, my stance is that if the product is out there on the market, people are going to write about it. Put out a product you are proud of, and make every attempt for it to be of consistently good quality, check regularly to make sure your clients are happy and have no fear. If Adidas sold me tennis socks that had holes in them or loose threads, I could take them back and tell my friends not to buy x style of Adidas socks. In a non-service based physical product, there is a way to hold the producer accountable. Blog reviews, Yelp (albeit questionably these days, "meaty"? wtf?) and Chowhound forums are one of the ways consumers can communicate with one another sharing experiences so that we can use our dining dollars wisely.
So why am I uncomfortable sharing the location of last nights's debacle for my readers to see? I guess because I fear using this blog as a weapon and anything that feels like it comes close to that leaves me ill at ease. Unfortunately, I have learned the hard way having had a couple of just such incidences in the past 2 years. It may make for fun or compelling reading but at what cost?