Tuesday, November 10, 2009

taste fresno or yelp

for quite some time i've posted food reviews here @ my blog. i also post them at sites like fresno famous and yelp. lately, a revamped version of taste fresno (see sidebar for link) launched, and it has my interest piqued.

now, i'll openly admit that the new taste fresno isn't my favorite. it has a very nice look to it, and feels very accessible, which is good. i really like that james is trying to put together a community cookbook based on local recipes. what i don't particularly care for is the review aspect of the site. there are pages and pages of reviews, which is good, especially for a relatively new, and small site. however, the site only shows four reviews per page. and, when you click on a review, it's solely the review from one user. that's standard, although it seems that other sites compile & average the scores given. i will say that most of the restaurants reviewed have only been done by one person, so there wouldn't be that many to compile. what i do like about the reviews is that they are all very honest. no one is trying to blow smoke up a restaurant's rear, or be overly critical. and, that honesty, if it keeps up, may keep me coming back to taste fresno.

you see, i love yelp. they're big. they're everywhere. they've ironed out kinks. but, there are also a lot jerks on yelp. really, here in fresno, it seems like there are regular posts from people who live in "big" cities that feel the need to talk crap about fresno in their review of a restaurant. "i never expected to find good ______ in podunk fresno," or "i'm surprised that they have (insert some ethnic food here) restaurants in fresno," or, i remember after the meet in the middle event how many travelers commented on the quality of the gay nightclubs and friendly establishments in this hick town. unless i want to flag these sophomoric reviews as abusive, there isn't much you can do to reply to the backhanded complements.

and now it seems that fresno yelp has developed it's own brand of a-hole. recently there have been several fresno yelpers that feel the need to constantly talk about how they know everything, that their palette is so refined, and that other yelpers (and fresnans) are idiots. this seems especially true of sushi restaurant reviews lately. this one reviewer has posted about several sushi restaurants, maybe most of them in town. and, in every review he goes on about how he knows sushi, how sushi has been bastardized and americanized and how sushi in fresno is about oversized roles and sauces and blah blah blah. these same statements are literally in every review done by this guy. however, his condescension and expertise don't just extend to sushi. this review is a jackhole of all trades & foods. and now, it seems that his reviews have rubbed off on another sushi "expert" who is throwing in very similar assessments in his reviews.

i know that no website or system are going to be perfect. i hope taste fresno continues to grow in reviews and is refined to be a little more usable, imho. i also hope that yelpers would stop thinking that they're some sort of real critic and just give honest review of the food and service of fresno restaurants.

UPDATE - i didn't realize that joan obra from the bee posted a write up of the site earlier today. seriously, i'm seven hours behind her. so, click over to the beehive and read what someone who is paid to think about these things thinks.


james said...

Ed, thank you for the honest feedback on TasteFresno. Prior to the re-launch, almost all reviews had been posted by me (we did not make it easy for people to do anything on the site before), and blog-style paging got copied over. We know that doesn't work, and are working on an overview page similar to the recipes, where you can sort by neighborhood, restaurant name (so you'll see if one has been reviewed more than once), type of food and so forth.
For the record, I'm a Yelp fan, though I haven't used it nearly as much as you or a few other local foodies. They've opened up the feedback process, and though there seems to be no shortage of people willing to write something negative (or simply irrelevant), what Yelp has built is awesome. We hope to add another layer to that by focusing more on the story of the experience, and by getting local chefs and restaurant owners involved in the conversation.
That all takes time, and requires much more than a shiny new design. As we gain feedback like this, we'll continue to make adjustments, and will continue sparking conversations about food - we all eat, but I'm big on embracing the flavors here as what makes us authentic.

edluv said...

that's good to hear that you're making improvements, specifically the compiled reviews and searchability by neighborhood & food. those are the element of yelp that i really love, especially since on the iphone it'll use my location and tell me what is near & reviewed.

The Fresnan said...

Good post Ed, even if Joan did something like it before (we can't follow what every local blogger is doing ALL of the time).

Dave said...

Ed, if you haven't yet done so, take a look at Chowhound.com

Fresno is on the CA board, search function comes and goes, but any google search that begins with Chowhound Fresno followed by any other descriptor usually turns up what you're looking for.

It's truly a great resource if you're heading for uncharted territory and have some specific cravings.


Dave (aka PolarBear)