Tag Archives: blogs

Where do you get your restaurant info online?

Kansas City food lovers are all over the Internet. I don’t really know how to compare our online food scene to other cities without a prohibitive amount of investigation, but I do find it very active and engaging.

Over at my personal blog I have a list of 40-50 restaurant, cooking and beverage blogs, not to mention contributions by local media outlets like the Pitch and the Star. Bloggers have different levels of engagement with the medium, but it is fair to say that starting a food blog virtually guarantees readers because of the built-in community.

I don’t keep up with every blog in my Google Reader on a daily basis, but I check every one I can as often as I can. I am going to shout-out a few sites every so often just to provide a little virtual backslap to those who are doing a great job.

On the Road to Des Moines

Photo by Matt Dente on Flickr

First up is Kansas Travel. This is actually not a blog per se but a static website. If you can get past that fact, this guy generates some very good content with restaurants being added constantly. While he ostensibly visits places all over the state, he often winds up in Johnson, Douglas and Wyandotte counties. The reviews feature excellent photos as well.

Take a gander at the site, I’ll wager he has stopped by a place or two that you have never heard of.  He also has a Twitter feed.

Do we even need proper food critics?

One of the rare non-Apple laptops seen in an otherwise cool park full of cool people

Photo by Ed Yourdon via Flickr

In this day and age, every person with an agenda and a computer can start a restaurant blog, post to sites like Yelp and Urbanspoon, or contribute to message boards like Chowhound.

Bon Appétit restaurant editor Andrew Knowlton posted an interesting piece a couple weeks ago about the value of so-called “Citizen Criticism” in the restaurant world.  In it, some big-time food critics around the country weigh in, some with the obvious observations:

“Yelp doesn’t surprise, inspire, enlighten, educate — or even make me salivate.”

“Who are these anonymous posters? And what are their credentials?”

“In general, I’m in favor of anything that gets more people out to more restaurants.”

I can say with no hesitation whatsoever that blogs and online review sites are great for diners and restaurateurs alike. I can think of a dozen places in Kansas City that have benefited from this kind of online exposure, and I’m not talking about places that get ubiquitous high praise like Blue Koi and Blanc. I’m talking about El Pulgarcito, Vietnam Cafe, El Pollo Rey and Swagger. Nothing spreads the word about good places to eat more efficiently than Twitter, Yelp and blogs.

But I also wish we had a proper, snobby restaurant critic in this town. Yes, someone with credentials. The illustrious Mr. Ferruzza is damn good, but sometimes I fear his tastes are a little too populist for our higher-end eateries. Our paper of record has taken a cue from the review sites by turning over the restaurant content to a rotating contingent of writers who may or may not know what they are talking about. Sometimes I want to read a review from someone I have absolute faith in, someone well-qualified, experienced and respected. If I’m going to blow $200 at The American or Bluestem, I want to have a really trusted opinion to rely on.

What to do in the absence of such a voice? Well, learn to take every opinion expressed online with a grain of salt. Figure out who the few people are that you can trust online and keep asking questions. Knowlton, in a related article, expresses a preference for asking real people because “That way, I can hold the person accountable.” Of course, don’t forget that you can hold people accountable online too. If you get a bad recommendation, let the person know, whether or not you know them in real life. But please be nice, you know how out of hand these things can get.

–Dave LaCrone