Who is reading your reviews?

I didn’t intend to post a review for Richmond’s Prince Alfred on farfromfamished. It was a pretty poor experience and I didn’t believe it warranted the time and effort to produce a full post; however in my opinion, it did necessitate a review on urbanspoon.

What I didn’t expect was a phone call from the Prince Alfred, on the same day I posted the review.

This post is not about the review. It’s more about the events that followed and observing how influential social media is these days. I guess some context will better establish my rationale for this post, so you can find the review here.

So, on the evening of the day I posted this review to urbanspoon, I received a phone call from Caroline at the Prince Alfred, who not only apologised for the indiscretions we experienced in both the meal and the service, but also confirmed that a number of actions had taken place since the review was posted; including agreeing the paella was bad and it should have never been on the menu. Although she was also at a loss as to what alleged pre-mixed shandy might have actually been lurking downstairs in the cellar and I still am unsure as to whether the ‘wine guy’ is actually on the payroll at the Prince Alfred.

We continued to chat about what did work, what the Prince Alfred was aiming for in terms of offering its customers and it all sounded favourable.  

On the back of our conversation, Caroline offered the opportunity to prove themselves in both the food and service that they feel they can offer by way of complimentary food and beverage for me and three guests, which after some thought and discussion with a few people, including a couple of bloggers, I politely declined.

If I wasn’t a blogger, I probably would have taken up this offer. As a blogger, even through it’s not my profession, integrity and balance in what I write comes first and I don’t want to compromise this.

In no disrespect to the Prince Alfred; it’s always going to linger in the back of my mind that although they might be going out of their way to ensure everything for me on this complimentary visit is just perfect, are all diners going to receive the same experience?

Complimentary meals aside, the important thing is that instances like this demonstrate that in a time where diners are more discerning than ever before and referring to ‘non-professional’ reviews as a means to deciding where they’ll spend their dining dollars; it’s gratifying to see that the Prince Alfred is taking the feedback from its patrons seriously to get it right.

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8 thoughts on “Who is reading your reviews?”

  1. Really interesting story – who knew the power of Urbanspoon. Although I guess without your blog they may not have been able to contact you? One thing I would say is I think if you are going to post this on here you probably owe the Prince Alfred a chance to prove themselves (I understand that for you to attend with three friends sounds a bit over the top and a bit like a lavish freebie to make up for a dud meal) but think it would be fair to attend again with a friend.

    1. Hi Cara, thanks for reading and your reply. I think they worked out who i was from the reservation book – it was pretty quiet. I probably will try them out again, but in my own time and on my own dollar so at the very least I can remain fair and impartial… and hopefully receive the same service like everyone else would.

  2. Could I ask why you bother reviewing restaurants, do you want to be a restaurateur or hotelier and don’t have the guts or balls? I personally think food bloggers are a parasites on our industry, half of you really have no idea about food wine or service, what drives you or gives you the right to criticise. You are probably a white collar middle management worker frustrated with your life and you take your angst out on people putting there life savings on the line, sure they might be not getting it right, but what satisfaction do you get in potentially putting them out of business??

      1. Thanks for your reply, unfortunately 20 years of owning and managing some of Melbourne’s best restaurants and bars and now consulting to the industry has really cemented me in the industry, as you have ignored most of questions ill ask you another, you have no credentials on your blog, have you studied journalism or hospitality, or worked in any restaurants of note??

      2. Nick, you’ve clearly missed the point; food is a passion and I like to write about it.

        Your logic that only people with experience in the industry or credentials should be allowed to pass judgement is quite conceited.

        As a customer, I’m as qualified as any to make a fair assessment of what I like and dislike. Choosing to write about my experiences is my creative discharge, as my ‘white collar management’ role doesn’t entirely fulfil this.

  3. hi farfromfamished, i would have probably accepted the return visit to see if they had rectified some of the problems which they’ve admitted to. i think you can still be honest about your experience and they obviously value your opinion. there’s potential for you to help them out if you see that something could be better as an outsider. as for Nick Burgess, it sounds like you certainly have a lot of experience in the industry. perhaps a visit to Prince Alfred is in order to see how they’re going and maybe give them a few tips along the way. i’m sure they’d appreciate it. ‘food bloggers are a parasites on our industry’ are pretty stern words. maybe true for some, probably not true for others. i’m sure they’re all just trying to promote their passion for food to others in preferably a positive way. finding great food and service is what i’m sure all food bloggers hope to find and share. along the way there can be disappointments like with any other diner. we’re all critics in our own right, whether you’re a blogger or not. i’ve never met anyone that has never complained about a dish in their life. the difference for some is they’ll write it on the internet while others will just complain to their family and friends and feel dissatisfied and the restaurant will be none the wiser.

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