The shroud of anonymity ... blogging versus reviewing

I did a review of a restaurant called Derby at Khar for Feastguru sometime back.

I am still undecided about whether I like doing organised reviews or not. I have done 4 or 5 so far at Zenzi, Tea Centre, Flags and Penne. All for Feastguru.

The biggest plus point of an organised review is that you get free food. At the risk of sounding snobbish, this would have been a big thing ten years back. Not so much now unless its a five star perhaps. Of course one does get to try out a range of dishes which you can't do if you are alone. And occasionally one gets to meet some interesting folk from the world of food such as Chef Max of Penne and Bakul who was Tea Centre earlier.

On the negative side you know that the restaurant folks are on their best behaviour. Plus you are there as a guest and tend to feel squeamish about baring all. In fact I had started food blogging as I was peeved by saying fake, saccharine filled sponsored food and travel shows on Indian television. So I have to make an effort to stay true to that.

My blogging on the other hand is straight from the gut. In most cases restaurant folks don't know who I am and I get to see them in their natural behaviour. I praise when I want to. And don't hold back any punches if I disapprove of what I see. It's a personal initiative. Like most Bloggers one is driven by passion and of course comments and feedback. It is my space and I can write without any compulsion or obligation or editorial intervention (which is rarely there in Feastguru).
Blogging has its limitations too. Its based on personal visits and you only get to read about what the blogger orders. Visits are impromptu and one might not have the camera at all times. Or take down notes without becoming a social misfit. What you get is first hand but limited report.

So how was Derby? The chicken wrapped in cabbage was healthy and had us asking for more. The grilled mushroom won the unique record of being the first vegetarian and grilled dish ever to be asked for once again by three Bengalis (I took a couple of readers cum friends along). The tangy chicken entree was nice. The food was European flavoured with Garam Masala.

Well here's the thing. Our enterprising host Chef Saif cooked up a special spread for us. These dishes are not available on the menu. So how do I tell you what to expect when you go there?

Still here's the
piece
that I wrote for more details on Derby. Do you find a difference in my Feastguru piece versus what you usually find on Finely Chopped?


Grilled mushroom: I would be a lot trimmer if healthy food was so tasty




Chicken wrapped in cabbage... very delicate and light



Tangy chicken: Lebanon meets Lucknow



A nice dark beauty of a mousse


Our bubbly host Chef Saif and two fellow Inglourious Finely Choppers

Comments

Kirti said…
I have also mixed feelings for non-anonymous reviews as the service and portions are better.

However, there are a few advantages in a non-anonymous review. For one, the restaurant can flaunt its signature dishes and this is a good way to tell readers what are the best things to try out. The other advantage is that you can ask for small portions and try out many dishes and judge the repertoire of the chef (there are so many Chinese restaurants where the Hunan Chicken is barely distinguishable from the Hong Kong chicken).

However, all that will change in the very near future as we integrate a brand new technology.

It is my pleasure to give readers of Finely Chopped to be the first to see this new technology - http://bangalore.feastguru.com.

You can simply login and write a review.

Btw, the photo of the sausages is sinful...
The knife said…
Kirti, first of all thanks for organising the review. A great experience :)

Both modes have their pluses and minuses.

Organised reviews are like advertorials. You get to see the best a place has to offer.

From the point of view of reviewer, there are varying degrees of intervention. The worst being one where I kept getting calls asking me whan the review was going to come out and so on.

Blogging, as a media, is a place where people don't want advertising. I read a study which showed that 'false' is a term closely associated with advertising in the web 2.0. In fact the analogy used is that advertising in the blog world is equal to gatecrashing into someone's party
Pinku said…
Knife: honest and blunt opinion .....I think your blog pieces read much much better than the feastguru piece.

Dunno why but so it is.
The knife said…
Pinku, thanks. That's a loud and clear answer.

I wondered whether to reply to comments on this post or not. Then I thought that I should given the entire argument that I made on openness.

Well to start with the F G article is unedited. It is entirely mine. So one can't attribute the difference to editorial interference.

In which I case I can only say that it is is possibly due to the fact that my stuff on Finely Chopped are more from the heart and. I don't put any filters while writing them.

The problem happens when one goes towards organised media. The couple of times when I got published on print. And the stuff I write for Metrotwin. That's when editorial themes or length constraints play havoc.

The beauty of a blog is that the closest one has to an editor is direct reader feedback
Pinku said…
completely agree with you.

Your blog pieces are from the heart and that shines through.

Perhaps FG could pick pieces from your blog and use those am sure the readers would love it.
The knife said…
Hey Pinku thanks once again. That's the sort of writing I like. That's why what you wrote on Andaman captured my attention much more than a travel directory would.

One operational issue in what you have suggested is that having the same post on F C and F G would bring down the Google ranks. That would particularly be a problem for a business site like feastguru.

And I find it difficult to write two different things on the same place. A bit like Ispector Clouseau in Pink Panther playing both the good cop and the bad cop
Rave said…
I know exactly what you mean, having suffered the good cop bad cop syndrome myself. This was for a place in Kalyani Nagar, Pune called Case de Goa. Slightly upmarket by Pune standards, I was doing this review for a weekly paper, and everyone was on their best behaviour, the chef coming out to have a bit of a chat with me, the partners who owned this place inviting me to their other establishment and so on. They also brought out their most expensive dishes, of which I just sampled a bit of each. And then we set another date for when my photographer could go in and photograph all the dishes. I havent had the heart to return to that place, because I know (having heard from other sources) that the service there is pretty terrible. My conscience however, gave in as I did end up having to give the place a good review.
The knife said…
Hi Rave,

Thanks for sharing your experience. I can entirely identify with what you have written...specially the fawning and all.

I always put a disclaimer saying that it was an anonymous review so that the reader can reach their own conclusions.

The problem arises in trying to stretch yourself for a place which didn't excite you to start with.

A bit like having to do a thirty minute post match cricket analysis for an Ireland versus Netherland match