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YELP.COM Reviews Need to be Taken With a Spoonful of Salt

July 29, 2013

YELP.COM Reviews Need to be Taken With a Spoonful of Salt

If every restaurant were actually as bad as some of the reviews on yelp.com say they were than there would be no restaurants in business.  For example, the reviews on Farmhouse Evanston.  Yes, I probably have a bias towards these reviews since I work here, and have put in long hours to train and have the proper product knowledge.  Yes, I do feel I’m pretty good at my job, and actually pride myself on providing a great experience for those that choose to dine at our restaurant and are sat in my section.  I am not a proponent of silencing others opinions, but WTF is with some of these people?  I know that the internet is full of complainers, and complacent guests of the service industry are much more likely to sling mud than throw a bouquet of flowers.  See below…

– A dissatisfied customer will tell 9-15 people about it. And approximately 13% of your dissatisfied customers will tell more than 20 people about their problem. Source: the White House Office of Consumer Affairs, Washington, DC.

– Happy customers who have their problems resolved will tell 4-6 people about their positive experience. Source: the White House Office of Consumer Affairs, Washington, DC.

The second fact listed above says it all.  That even if you fix a problem for someone and they leave extremely happy, they are going to tell fewer people about your efforts to please than if they left unsatisfied with the meal and experience.  As a staff we have done our very best to ensure that 99.9% of the problems normally associated with a new restaurant opening have not occurred here, or have occurred at extremely low frequencies.  There are daily staff meetings where we address issues that we experience ourselves and feel need to be improved upon, and also those suggestions that come from the customers themselves and the beloved yelp.com.  It almost sounds like some are coming in with the intention of writing a bad review from the tone of their comments.  For example “the food had no taste and was cold.  The fish and chips batter was not cooked all the way through – not in the least crispy.  The beef burger was absolutely tasteless.  The mushroom burger was not cooked all the way through.  Fries were like fast food fries.  The prices were way out of line for the quality.  The wine list very limited.  Would not go back even to give it a second chance.  Both dinner and dessert menus NOT very appealing.  It’s hard to imagine anyone giving this restaurant a good review.

The only thing this restaurant has in its favor is the wait staff.”

Really?  Limited wine list?  It’s enormously inclusive, and contains many different styles of wine from various regions around the world….we knew we couldn’t just offer Midwestern wine and this one of the compromises we made to satisfy everyone’s pallet.    All of the food items this person complained about in this review are from scratch, in-house made, including the “fast food fries” that they didn’t like.  The beef that was supposedly tasteless is from a farm in Indiana where the cattle are grass-fed and pasture raised in a manner that promotes incredibly flavorful meat.  We even suggest that the burgers aren’t cooked past medium with the intention of preserving flavor, and an exact blend of the “fattier” cuts of meat are ground in-house to ensure we have total control over the end product.  The lack of understanding is just sickening here.

Here’s another one to follow from last night…..

“Went to Farmhouse on a whim with my husband and young daughter tonight. I don’t post many reviews, but I felt I should share my opinion after eating here tonight, as I wish I would have read some previous reviews before deciding  to go (especially since some of the prior reviews mentioned the trouble they are having with the right cooking temps./being overly or undercooked)

It was really crowded for a Sunday night, which was very encouraging.  We were seated immediately, without reservations, which was even better.  The menu was interesting, and the local beers/spirits/wine list were pretty good (wines by the glass were lacking in interest).  My husband ordered the skirt steak, my daughter ordered the mac and cheese, and I ordered the 1/2 Amish chicken.  It was pretty loud for a Sunday, and the atmosphere was nice, but it did feel very “staged” with the barn décor and Ball jars serving as flower vases. Kinda pushing the “local” theme just a little over the top.”

With the purpose of conserving time I’ll summarize the rest of the this review.  This person went on to say that the table next to them received their food before them, their chicken came out raw, and they were bummed to give us a bad review.  Well they ordered steak, which takes considerably longer considering how thick the cut is.  Obviously we have a food critic that has never set foot in a kitchen here.  Next, I’m just not buying the raw chicken comment.  The chicken is marinated in a brine for twenty-four hours, and if you’ve ever cooked marinated meats at home you’d know that sometimes, especially with a free range bird that is going to be inherently darker in color, the flesh tends to take on some strange colors or appearances from the broth or brine it was soaked in.  This appearance may sometimes be mistaken for being raw. Next, “it did feel very “staged” with the barn décor and Ball jars serving as flower vases. Kinda pushing the “local” theme just a little over the top.”  STAGED!!!!! This is a restaurant and yes, everything from the table settings, to the candles, to the flowers on your table was staged before you walked in the door.  I wonder what these people were expecting, and I’m not sure that we could have done anything to make them happy when you hear comments like that.  Again, this goes along with the tendencies of yelp.com reviewers to come in gunning for something to complain about from the safety of their computer monitor and keyboard.

In summary, I’d like every one of my friends and acquaintances to come in to Farmhouse Evanston to give us a try to see for yourself.  We accommodate all types of food allergies, we allow food modifications, and provide the freshest local ingredients from small farms working the land to bring you unadulterated ingredients that our kitchen does wonders with.  The beef, chicken, and fish are all incredibly fresh, and literally have a quality that is hard to find even at a farmer’s market.  Of course, if you come in at 7:00 on a Friday or Saturday night without a reservation at the newest restaurant in town than you are going to wait.  Reservations would be a must on these nights, but we have a very user-friendly system on our face book page located here: https://www.facebook.com/FarmhouseEvanston We’ve partnered with http://www.cityeats.com Food Network’s better, more easier to use version of the opentable.com online reservation system so getting a time slot without even making a phone call is now possible.  If you’d like to be more traditional and call I have listed the restaurant’s contact information below.  Yelp is more or less a complainers outlet and I’m not even sure that I will look at it again due to it being a massive misrepresentation of the true experience one would have in any restaurant.

Farmhouse Evanston 703 Church Street, Evanston, IL 60201

Phone: 847-492-9700

website: http://www.farmhouseevanston.com

Everything in this salad was bought at the Evanston farmer's market Saturday morning, sold out by Saturday night.  As fresh as it comes.....

Everything in this salad was bought at the Evanston farmer’s market Saturday morning, sold out by Saturday night. As fresh as it comes…..

One Comment
  1. I don’t think the white house consumer affairs office knows what a good review is. .. =-D
    I agree tho. People sure do like to complain. I read and write many reviews myself. I can usual get past the drama filled ones & pull the info I want out of the review. Example of campground reviews we read b/4 thoroughly enjoying our stay there: The campground had nothing for children. . Bonus, no kids! Uneven sites just equal a board under tires. Nowhere near stores or town. . yeah! Peace and quiet!
    I think people giving reviews should stick to the facts rather than their opinions. As Just because you like something doesn’t mean we all do. Like I hope that woman’s child was mannered and quiet. If it had been screaming would it had been the business’s fault? No, but someone would have written a review that it was.
    Sometimes I think a thick skin is in order. Duck ’em. (My phone is set to PG)
    Great read!

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