In Defense of Being Positive

By sanju on 20 May, 2014

Over the weekend, one of my friends JM mentioned to me that he had heard other people comment to him that our blog should post more negative reviews of restaurants. This is not the first time that I have heard this comment.  It has been repeated to me frequently through the years. I cannot say that I have not been tempted.  There were many times where I have actually walked out of places utterly disgusted by either how I was treated or by what I was served. A conversation I had with one of my favorite writers many years ago always prevents me from doing the worst.

When I was in college, I was one of the few selected to attend a workshop that would be facilitated by a different writer once a week.  We were only a group of six at that time and we were asked to write something every week and the guest would critique our submissions.  For our first assignment, we were told to write a short story.   Unfortunately, my story was picked first and our esteemed guest, a famous writer, decided to shred my story line for line for the next two hours.  Although we used pseudonyms, it was a devastating and humiliating experience that left me with more questions than answers.  The following week, we had the late Doreen Fernandez as our guest.  Again, she picked my work first out of the pile to my dismay. However, she began to say such nice things about my piece.  She did practically the same thing with the other submissions and encouraged everyone to keep reading and writing.

After class, I was tasked to walk her back to where her driver was parked, and I had a chance to chat with her.  I told her about my experience the week before and how much of a morale boost her approach was. I also told her that I was a fan of her writing and then I asked her whether she wrote anything negative.  She looked at me and here is what she said: “There are so many good things that one can write about so why delve in the bad?”  Sage advice don’t you think?  I have never forgotten what she said to me and I have tried my best to always take this to heart.

My friend Chinkee, who is an amazing writer, always says that a restaurant is someone’s meal ticket and writing a bad or negative review is akin to destroying someone’s livelihood.  I believe that there is a lot of truth to this statement.  A bad meal may be a result of varying factors that the restaurant is going through on that particular day.  If there is one thing that I have learned recently is that running a restaurant is a VERY difficult endeavor.  I believe that it is just fair to give the place the benefit of the doubt.  I would rather communicate privately with those concerned via email or in person if I encounter any issues. Either that, or If I feel that things are quite dismal, I just will not go back. Our dining scene is experiencing an evolution, the offshoot of which is the fact that one is spoilt for choice. Writing positively just makes my choices known.

Our blog is just what it is, a blog. We sustain it simply because we love to eat and drink. Ultimately, we would rather focus on what we enjoy rather than what we do not since doing otherwise would be anathema to the point of it all:  Having fun with it.





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  • MAY 20, 2014 11:40 PM

    Mark Cezar Sucgang said...

    In a recent seminar I attended, I had the chance to listen to Anton Diaz as he was one of the keynote speakers. According to him, the most read articles are those deal with laughter, amusement, and awe. People like positive emotions. Many people go online to get relief from stress. This is why it makes sense to be positive. Great perspective on restaurant reviews. :)

  • MAY 21, 2014 9:49 AM

    sanju said...

    Thank you Mark. Please continue to stop by.

  • MAY 21, 2014 1:16 PM

    the food dude said...

    Nice one, thoughts exactly.

  • MAY 21, 2014 2:10 PM

    sanju said...

    Thanks Angelo.

  • MAY 24, 2014 12:34 PM

    Sophia said...

    More than negativity, I think it's balanced honesty that people are looking for. I appreciate it when a writer is able to highlight what's good about a restaurant and at the same time call out constructively what needs improvement (which any restaurant owner/manager genuinely interested in providing their customers with good value should be able to take). A balanced review helps me make an informed choice.

  • MAY 26, 2014 9:45 AM

    sanju said...

    Great point Sophia. Thank you.

  • MAY 29, 2014 5:13 AM

    Netoy said...

    I totally agree with Sophia. Depending on how it is written, constructively-written opportunities for improvement comments should be welcomed by the owners/chefs of these establishments. How could a poor service or food improve if no one has commented on it? While I acknowledge that taste is relative, readers are able to distinguish whether the writer knows about what s/he is talking about.

  • MAY 29, 2014 10:49 AM

    sanju said...

    Another good point. Thanks Netoy!

  • NOVEMBER 25, 2015 11:39 AM

    Gigi said...

    Hi, I just chanced upon this blog while searching for Beni's falafel. Hence, this comment on an old post for a topic I feel strongly about. It IS about being honest, more than about being negative. And it's also about sparing readers from wasting their time & hard earned money on a mediocre restaurant. Please think about it from that point of view. Sometimes, I read posts from another popular food blog and cannot believe how a restaurant I personally have tried merited such positive reviews. Usually, it is a so-so restaurant (neither good nor godawful). But for me, personally, such outlets are not worth visiting. It just calls into question the credibility of the blogger. In the end, who is really the client you are serving -- the readers who provide the stats, or the restaurant owners?

  • NOVEMBER 26, 2015 5:06 PM

    sanju said...

    Hi Gigi, Thank you for your response. I do understand your point and I applaud it. Our blog tries to take a positive stand in general. We would rather write about our good experiences rather than the bad. It is not about dishonesty as there is none involved. We write about what we genuinely like and enjoy. If for some reason or the other we did not enjoy our experience, we just do not mention it. Why we take this stance, is because as you know, a restaurant does have its good and bad days. And we would like to give the institution the benefit of the doubt. We do send our constructive recommendations in private, and most of the time, the owners do take them to heart and make the necessary improvements. It would also be notable to mention that this blog does not generate any profit. We are doing it just for the fun of it and because we are passionate about food in general. As much as possible, we do shy away from attending free dinners etc., as this may leave a tit for tat impression that we would like to avoid. If we do attend an event, we try our best to go back on our own and write our posts from there. Please do let me know if you have any more questions, clarifications or violent reactions. Thanks for stopping by.

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