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Silver Seafood--two thumbs blandly sideways

Silver Seafood--two thumbs blandly sideways
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  • Silver Seafood--two thumbs blandly sideways

    Post #1 - April 28th, 2009, 5:06 pm
    Post #1 - April 28th, 2009, 5:06 pm Post #1 - April 28th, 2009, 5:06 pm
    So I learn that Chinese food is regional. I guess that makes sense. Different parts of the country specialize in different things. Sorta like the good ol’ U S of A, huh? Well, we just discovered one of the regional cuisines of China that has just gone down many notches on our scale of deliciousness. Not that the food wasn’t good. It just wasn’t particularly to our taste.

    I write of Silver Seafood. A place that, while it has many adherents and a number of posts, does not seem to have its own dedicated thread. While we weren’t thrilled, we do recognize that this might have had more to do with us than with the place.

    We had never been, despite living walking distance away, so the Lovely Dining Companion and I decided to overindulge and order way more food than we could possibly eat, partly so we’d have leftovers and partly so we could try different things. We accomplished both aims easily. Unfortunately, as luck would have it, we found the food to be mostly one-note...and that note was, um...bland.

    Chinese cuisine, I am semi-reliably informed, has a number of traditional cuisines as well as many other regional specializations. What I know about all this is from what I read, not from particular experience. In any event, Silver Seafood specializes—surprise—in seafood. And somewhere I read that its tradition is Hong Kong cuisine. Knowing as little as I/we do about Chinese regional cuisines, this may well be so. It seems to be accurate. Given that most Hong Kong Chinese are originally from Canton or that area, Cantonese cuisine seems to be the “parent” cuisine. And that accords with our experience: lightly seasoned food.

    We did some homework before going. And read that the restaurant has two menus: an “American Chinese” menu and a Chinese menu. Get the latter, everyone advised. Seems like that’s such common advice that we were brought both menus before we could even express a preference. And, in fairness, the Chinese menu—far more extensive—seemed more intriguing. I don’t doubt that the food on both menus is good, it’s just that the Chinese menu offers items that aren’t available on the other: things like spicy salted frog, intestines with sour vegetables, sea cucumber stir-fried with baby abalone, fish bladder with dry bamboo shoot soup, and boneless duck web.

    In the event, the LDC and I ended up ordering: roast duck, Chinese broccoli in garlic sauce, chicken with sweet corn soup, vegetables chow fun, and house special stir-fried shrimp. The soup came first and our server noted that we had ordered quite a bit of food. Indeed. The soup, a medium bowl instead of a large (no small is offered) was good. And filling. And so we took it easy.

    Image

    Good thing. Chinese broccoli came next.

    Image
    The plate of broccoli was, um, quite large. And while good, it was still intended as a side dish, not an entree. Next up was the vegetables with chow fun. The noodles were good.

    Image

    But the seasoning was, dare I say "bland" again? Although the chow fun wasn’t quite the same palette of flavors, it wasn’t that far removed from the broccoli and garlic sauce and so we weren’t experiencing all that we might have. You can imagine our disappointment (I hope) when we had the exact same reaction to the "house special" stir-fried shrimp.

    Image

    It would have been nice, given our order, if the server had bothered to mention that the house special stir-fried shrimp sat on a large bed of--you guessed it--Chinese broccoli.

    At this point, we're sitting there wondering. Is this our fault for not learning more about the cuisine? Or for not learning what to order and what to avoid. On the other hand...ah, I don’t know.

    Then the duck. At the very least we knew the flavors would be completely different. And the plate was beautiful.

    Image

    In appearance. And the duck did taste different: dry. Even the meaty pieces—and there was quite a generous serving—were dry. I would bet a rather large sum of money that we received leftover/reheated duck. Duck that had been intended for another audience on another day. More's the pity. It might have been good when it was fresh. But even then, I fear, it probably didn’t inhabit the same ducky universe as its late cousins at Sun Wah.

    All in all: pleasant. With the exception of the duck, every dish was generously portioned, hot, and very, uh, nice. Service was fine. Indeed, on a Friday evening, the door was constantly opening as more and more people arrived. An impressive crowd. Our dinner was okay. Just not very exciting. Maybe we’re just not fans of Hong Kong cuisine. Or maybe this is the place to go for bland food.

    We wanted to like it. We really did. But we didn’t. I’ll be genuinely interested to hear from those who know more about the cuisine, this menu, or this place, where we went wrong in ordering (assuming that we did). On the other hand, maybe this is just the place to go for very lightly seasoned food.

    Silver Seafood
    4829 N Broadway
    (773) 784-0668
    website
    (follow the menu link; both menus are presented in full)

    (edited to correct a foolish grammatical error)
    Last edited by Gypsy Boy on April 30th, 2009, 7:23 am, edited 2 times in total.
    Gypsy Boy

    "I am not a glutton--I am an explorer of food." (Erma Bombeck)
  • Post #2 - April 28th, 2009, 5:45 pm
    Post #2 - April 28th, 2009, 5:45 pm Post #2 - April 28th, 2009, 5:45 pm
    Gypsy Boy,

    I eat at Silver Seafood often, and I feel where you are coming from. There is a lot of bland on that menu. My Cantonese friends insist that the cuisine is supposed to be "light," but I still think that something is missing.

    That said there are some dishes I really like there. The dish I always go back for is "ginger shrimp" - I call it that, although it may be something else on the menu. They know it as "ginger shrimp" though. In either case, its basically fried shrimp in a sweet/spicy sauce that steps over the border to ameri-chinese but is somehow very pleasing. Everyone I have ordered it for has loved it. The beef with Chinese broccoli is a bit bland, but the sauce is at least brown and garlicy. Lastly, they do a great job with clams - clams with basil if I recall correctly? I've also had some luck with anything in "XO" sauce.

    It's not the best in the neighborhood, but you can't eat Sun Wah everyday (or can you?). Try the ginger shrimp next time if you have any inclination toward good Ameri-Chinese that I've never seen at any other Chinese place. Dare I say it - Shrimp Crack?
    "By the fig, the olive..." Surat Al-Teen, Mecca 95:1"
  • Post #3 - April 28th, 2009, 5:54 pm
    Post #3 - April 28th, 2009, 5:54 pm Post #3 - April 28th, 2009, 5:54 pm
    Gypsy Boy,

    I've gotta admit, sometimes "bland" Chinese food that's fresh and well prepared is exactly what I want to eat. Silver Seafood looks and sounds like a place that would fill a relatively frequent craving for me. I'll skip the duck though. Broccoli and garlic looks particularly tasty - I think I can make out lots of finely chopped garlic in that excellent picture. Thanks for the report.

    KZ
    ...defended from strong temptations to social ambition by a still stronger taste for tripe and onions." Screwtape in The Screwtape Letters by CS Lewis

    Fuckerberg on Food
  • Post #4 - April 28th, 2009, 8:46 pm
    Post #4 - April 28th, 2009, 8:46 pm Post #4 - April 28th, 2009, 8:46 pm
    For the google impaired
    http://www.silverseafoodrestaurant.com/
  • Post #5 - April 28th, 2009, 9:24 pm
    Post #5 - April 28th, 2009, 9:24 pm Post #5 - April 28th, 2009, 9:24 pm
    give it another shot and try the clams in black bean sauce. you won't be disappointed.
  • Post #6 - April 28th, 2009, 9:35 pm
    Post #6 - April 28th, 2009, 9:35 pm Post #6 - April 28th, 2009, 9:35 pm
    Gypsy Boy wrote:Unfortunately, as luck would have it, we found the food to be mostly one-note...and that note was, um...bland.

    I made my first visit to Silver Seafood two weeks ago and had a significantly more positive reaction. I liked it well enough so that I'm very much looking forward to another visit.

    We started with a bowl of hot and sour seafood soup. I never had a seafood version of this classic before but thought it worked very well. Not the most aggressively seasoned soup but one I'd certainly order again.

    Next a seafood and noodle dish whose exact name I can't recall. The noodles were nicely crisped and the seafood was pleasant though not terribly exciting. This dish makes me understand Gypsy Boy's overall impression of Silver.

    Image

    Bitter melon with pork (on the bone) in black bean sauce was the highlight of the meal, one of the better renditions of this dish I've had in Chicago. A fine balance of bitter, salty, fatty. Not boring in the least.

    Image

    Shrimp-stuffed tofu was our final dish, and another winner. My only complaint was that this subtle dish should have been served before (or with) the bitter melon.

    Image

    Silver Seafood is open late (to 1am every night, I believe), making it a very useful restaurant to be aware of.

    Silver Seafood
    4829 N Broadway
    Chicago
    773-784-0668
    http://www.silverseafoodrestaurant.com/
  • Post #7 - April 28th, 2009, 10:47 pm
    Post #7 - April 28th, 2009, 10:47 pm Post #7 - April 28th, 2009, 10:47 pm
    We have been going to Silver Seafood regularly, both for regular meals and for special occasions for well over a decade. I think it's the best authentic Cantonese restaurant in the city. Lots of outstanding dishes including hong sue fish fillet, spicy salt and pepper squid, Dover sole "two ways", taro duck, crispy skin chicken, steamed chicken with ginger and onion, dry style rice noodle with beef (even better with duck), steamed flounder,Pork with bitter melon, Japanese tofu with mushrooms, shrimp with sweet walnuts and many others. The food is usually very fresh and carefully prepared, light and delicately seasoned as Cantonese cuisine is intended to be. The restaurant is almost always crowded with large groups of Chinese who seem to enjoy it as well. The food is made to cater to Cantonese sensibilities.

    Complaining about the "blandness" of this food is really no different than someone with little tolerance for spice complaining that Thai food is "too hot" or Szechuan food "too oily". What's really being said is that the food isn't what you like. That's fine. But without any reference to what the food is supposed to be like or how it might stand up against other examples of it's type , such commentary is of little value.

    Although I like the food at Silver Seafood a lot, I can certainly understand how some might not . What I don't understand is why someone with little familiarity with Cantonese food would , after a single visit, post a thread with a negative title like this. It's unfortunate that many people surfing the internet for dining ideas might mistake this (based on the title alone) for an informed opinion and miss an experience they might really enjoy. This is the dark side of internet food reviewing.
    Lacking fins or tail
    The Gefilte fish
    swims with great difficulty.

    Jewish haiku.
  • Post #8 - April 29th, 2009, 5:05 am
    Post #8 - April 29th, 2009, 5:05 am Post #8 - April 29th, 2009, 5:05 am
    kuhdo wrote:What I don't understand is why someone with little familiarity with Cantonese food would , after a single visit, post a thread with a negative title like this. It's unfortunate that many people surfing the internet for dining ideas might mistake this (based on the title alone) for an informed opinion and miss an experience they might really enjoy. This is the dark side of internet food reviewing.


    We explicitly explained my/our limitations and acknowledged that the review was based, among other things, on a lack of familiarity with the cuisine. I don't believe we have any responsibility to stick to restaurants with cuisines familiar to us or that we have to perform extensive research before going to a new place with a cuisine new to us. Our reaction was perfectly valid--and would have been just as valid had we waxed ecstatic. Lack of familiarity doesn't invalidate an experience. We gave credit where we thought it was due and blame--the duck--where it was due. We asked for input and got some helpful responses. The notion that we are responsible for someone relying on a review based solely on the title is nothing short of silly. "Dark side" indeed.


    P.S. For what it's worth, my research--both pre- and post-dining experience--leads me to believe that restaurant serves Hong Kong cuisine, not Cantonese. While Cantonese has a strong and undoubted influence on Hong Kong food, it is by no means the sole influence. And it is, in fact, the other influences that intrigued us as well.
    Last edited by Gypsy Boy on April 29th, 2009, 5:13 am, edited 1 time in total.
    Gypsy Boy

    "I am not a glutton--I am an explorer of food." (Erma Bombeck)
  • Post #9 - April 29th, 2009, 5:13 am
    Post #9 - April 29th, 2009, 5:13 am Post #9 - April 29th, 2009, 5:13 am
    Gypsy Boy wrote:
    kuhdo wrote:What I don't understand is why someone with little familiarity with Cantonese food would , after a single visit, post a thread with a negative title like this. It's unfortunate that many people surfing the internet for dining ideas might mistake this (based on the title alone) for an informed opinion and miss an experience they might really enjoy. This is the dark side of internet food reviewing.


    We explicitly explained my/our limitations and acknowledged that the review was based, among other things, on a lack of familiarity with the cuisine. I don't believe we have any responsibility to stick to restaurants with cuisines familiar to us or that we have to perform extensive research before going to a new place with a cuisine new to me. Our reaction was perfectly valid--and would have been just as valid had we waxed ecstatic. Lack of familiarity doesn't invalidate an experience. We gave credit where we thought it was due and blame--the duck--where it was due. We asked for input and got some helpful responses. The notion that we are responsible for someone relying on a review based solely on the title is nothing short of silly.


    I completely agree with Gypsy Boy. LTHForum is not for everyone; if people "surfing the internet for dining ideas" don't care to read beyond the headlines, this is not a site of much value for them. Gypsy Boy went out of his way to provide context for the title within his review, and provided plenty of details. In fact, lukewarm title or not, his review put Silver Seafood on the radar for me, and the descriptions really made me want to eat there. It's a balanced review that's sure to become even more balanced as the thread progresses with further discussion and opinion of the place. That's what LTHForum is all about, in my view.
    ...defended from strong temptations to social ambition by a still stronger taste for tripe and onions." Screwtape in The Screwtape Letters by CS Lewis

    Fuckerberg on Food
  • Post #10 - April 29th, 2009, 7:31 am
    Post #10 - April 29th, 2009, 7:31 am Post #10 - April 29th, 2009, 7:31 am
    As a long time patron of SS who likes the bland stuff only in moderation, I recommend the salt and pepper (or "spicy salt") seafood preps, the oyster and pork belly casserole, and that you order the "greens," whether chives, ong choy or whatever, with yellow bean paste.
  • Post #11 - April 29th, 2009, 10:42 am
    Post #11 - April 29th, 2009, 10:42 am Post #11 - April 29th, 2009, 10:42 am
    I agree with JeffB. Salt and Pepper Seafood variations are almost always winners at Silver Seafood. I will note that it is one of those restaurants that often goes through wild quality swings though the swings toward the bad are quickly corrected in my experience there.
  • Post #12 - April 29th, 2009, 10:55 am
    Post #12 - April 29th, 2009, 10:55 am Post #12 - April 29th, 2009, 10:55 am
    Was this place reviewed on Check Please a couple of years ago?
  • Post #13 - April 29th, 2009, 11:00 am
    Post #13 - April 29th, 2009, 11:00 am Post #13 - April 29th, 2009, 11:00 am
    Ghazi wrote:Was this place reviewed on Check Please a couple of years ago?

    Yes, although the original air date doesn't seem to appear at the show's web site (which is highly annoying).

    =R=
    By protecting others, you save yourself. If you only think of yourself, you'll only destroy yourself. --Kambei Shimada

    Every human interaction is an opportunity for disappointment --RS

    There's a horse loose in a hospital --JM

    That don't impress me much --Shania Twain
  • Post #14 - April 29th, 2009, 11:23 am
    Post #14 - April 29th, 2009, 11:23 am Post #14 - April 29th, 2009, 11:23 am
    Odd. I replied, then went to search for more info, returned, and cannot find my orig. reply. ???
    Anyway---I've only been there a handful of times but all were very good experiences.
    It's been quite a while now, and part of the S.S. narrative includes some downhill alerts, "off" periods, and announcements of the return to former glory. Who knows what phase they may be in now.
    I can only say, echoing some other posters, that we have greatly enjoyed various of the salt and pepper treatments, along with the intensely garlicy ong choy, and one of the beef rib dishes (can't recall which, but salty, fatty, perfect beer food). Have had good duck and some that I didn't like so much.
    I wish this wasn't so vague an entry, it's just been too long, though I did post after several of those meals.
    Here is a link (I hope) to a thread which includes lots of specifics, good pics (from Gary, I think), and an articulate demurral from Pigmon. Goes back to '05, I think.
    I would recommend trying again armed with a list of dishes to try, but given the general so-many-restaurants-vita-brevis human condition, I can certainly understand choosing simply to move on.

    viewtopic.php?f=14&t=3093&p=26694&hilit=silver+Seafood#p26694
    "Strange how potent cheap music is."
  • Post #15 - April 29th, 2009, 11:33 am
    Post #15 - April 29th, 2009, 11:33 am Post #15 - April 29th, 2009, 11:33 am
    Not to belabor this point, but it's not the blogger's responsibility to the casual surfer that concerns me , but rather thier responsibility to the establishment itself, which I think is being unfairly characterized in a public forum. That's really not silly at all.
    Lacking fins or tail
    The Gefilte fish
    swims with great difficulty.

    Jewish haiku.
  • Post #16 - April 29th, 2009, 12:08 pm
    Post #16 - April 29th, 2009, 12:08 pm Post #16 - April 29th, 2009, 12:08 pm
    kuhdo wrote:Not to belabor this point, but it's not the blogger's responsibility to the casual surfer that concerns me , but rather thier responsibility to the establishment itself, which I think is being unfairly characterized in a public forum. That's really not silly at all.

    Out of curiosity, if Gypsy Boy had written this post (with the same disclaimers about his lack of experience with this type of cuisine) as a glowing endorsement of the restaurant, and had titled it "Silver Seafood--OMG awesome", would you have the same misgivings?

    I'm not sure if you're advocating that people who have no basis for apples-to-apples comparison should refrain from writing reviews, or if they should ensure that their reviews are positive because they can't possibly know if what they ate was good or bad, or if thread titles should be strictly limited to the name of the restaurant, with no additional creativity or commentary.

    Personally, I found his review to be very useful. I've had this style of cuisine before, and didn't enjoy it. Now I know that I know what Silver Seafood offers, I know it would probably not be my cup of tea. That said, additional posts in this thread could change my mind. That's the beauty of the way this site is structured.
  • Post #17 - April 29th, 2009, 12:28 pm
    Post #17 - April 29th, 2009, 12:28 pm Post #17 - April 29th, 2009, 12:28 pm
    And not to belabor the belaboring, but it seems to me kuhdo's principle (concern with unfair characterization of a restaurant) is perfectly reasonable in the abstract, while not actually applying to the specific case of Gypsy Boy's posting.
    This is not a professional reviewing site, or even, principally, a consumer guide. Gypsy Boy's subject line didn't characterize the restaurant at all, but only his response to eating there, which is by definition accurate. He didn't accuse them of anything, or assert an expertise that he lacks.
    What this board is about is people sharing subjective responses, asking questions, seeking corroborating or contrasting opinios, supplying varying and often contradictory bits of "expertise," and everything in between.
    I love Silver Seafood, but I don't think they've been ill-served by one person's not being carried away by the experience and saying so. Certainly it's no more unfair than any poster's "downhill alert" about any place where the poster is uncredentialed and simply saying what he thought about a visit.
    I just don't see that Gypsy Boy's post approaches even the gray outer boundaries of "unfair."
    That said, I think it speaks well of the whole community that we're concerned about how we characterize restaurants we don't love rather than exulting in the cheap thrills of flame wars and can-you-top-this show-off posts that pile on negatives, as is the case on some other boards from time to time.
    "Strange how potent cheap music is."
  • Post #18 - April 29th, 2009, 4:03 pm
    Post #18 - April 29th, 2009, 4:03 pm Post #18 - April 29th, 2009, 4:03 pm
    kuhdo wrote:Not to belabor this point, but it's not the blogger's responsibility to the casual surfer that concerns me , but rather thier responsibility to the establishment itself, which I think is being unfairly characterized in a public forum. That's really not silly at all.


    I fully disagree. In this forum, the blogger's responsibility is to the food. Granted I didn't eat the dishes in the above post but, lets face it... they looked bland. Could it be bad ordering that is a result of a lack of familiarity with the menu? Of course. That Gypsy Boy notes exactly that absolves any "responsibility" to the establishment on his part. I don't know of a rule (or a point to) misrepresenting you meal, as you perceive it, to ensure nobody's feelings or business gets hurt here.
  • Post #19 - April 29th, 2009, 5:34 pm
    Post #19 - April 29th, 2009, 5:34 pm Post #19 - April 29th, 2009, 5:34 pm
    I think the photos speak to the delicacy and freshness of ingredients that are the hallmark of good Cantonese food. Pristinely fresh and lightly cooked greens can be bland, in a good way. That said, Cantonese takes some time, attention, and often chile oil, in my experience, to appreciate. Long ago I wrote a very similar criticism shrugging at a tremendously well-regarded Cantonese place in Toronto. Now, with much more experience at good and not so good Cantonese places around North America, I can better appreciate what people with more experienced palates saw in the place that I did not. It's still not my favorite style.

    All of the criticisms have their place, particularly when they are fairly and articulately rendered, as was Gypsy Boy's.

    Silver Seafood is a particularly good LTH subject. Not everyone's favorite style, austere and relatively inaccessible as Chinese goes, especially among those who generally love Mexican, Thai and other bold cuisines; plus, SS has those wild albeit short-lived swings into mediocrity or worse. It's difficult (or at least takes luck and judgment) to uncover and publicize Khan or Katy's ( :wink: ), but most of what's left is affirmation. SS demands more reflection and updates. That's the beauty of LTH (another Cantonese-ish place).
  • Post #20 - April 29th, 2009, 5:46 pm
    Post #20 - April 29th, 2009, 5:46 pm Post #20 - April 29th, 2009, 5:46 pm
    Wait, if Cantonese is bland by nature, and the OP points out how bland the food is, well, doesn't that make a glowing review of a Cantonese style restaurant? :twisted:
  • Post #21 - April 29th, 2009, 6:40 pm
    Post #21 - April 29th, 2009, 6:40 pm Post #21 - April 29th, 2009, 6:40 pm
    JeffB hits it right on the nose. This is a more austere cuisine and doesn't reveal it's charms as readily as some others. It's not hard to see why some might find it bland or unexciting. But looking a bit harder, one might note lots of native eaters packing in on a regular basis. Along with positive reviews here and elsewhere from others who like this type of food, this should raise the suspicion that the OP might be missing something others have found, and in fact GypsyBoy duly notes these concerns in his post.

    The problem comes up when someone not familiar with a cuisine has a single disappointing experience on his first visit to a new restaurant and then proclaims not just that he didn't like it very much but that that the restaurant is somehow deserving of "two thumbs blandly sideways"... clearly a negative charactarization.

    If someone unfamiliar with Szechuan food, or who just preferred another style (or maybe who didn't like Chinese food at all) decided to review Lao Sze Chuan and then proceeded to describe how they finally decided to visit LSC and "really wanted to like it" but just couldn't because the food was "just too dang hot and oily" to be enjoyable and then posted this commentary in a thread entitled "LSC , the culinay equivalent of waterboarding ", I think the problem would be more readiuly apparent.

    Most would understand that the reviewer just didn't get it. That the place wasn't a good fit. That the fault didn't necessicarily lie with the food, but perhaps with the reviewers expierience and expectations. This wouldn't in any way make that reviewer any less entitled to his opinion, but the value of that assesment would be easier to see.

    Midas' comment just points up the problem. What Gypsy boy sees as "bland" many would see as "delicate" or (to use jb's term) "subtle". To have people come away from this review with the sentiment Midas expresses is part of what makes me uncomfortable about the internet food review scene in general.
    Lacking fins or tail
    The Gefilte fish
    swims with great difficulty.

    Jewish haiku.
  • Post #22 - April 29th, 2009, 7:05 pm
    Post #22 - April 29th, 2009, 7:05 pm Post #22 - April 29th, 2009, 7:05 pm
    kuhdo wrote:If someone unfamiliar with Szechuan food, or who just preferred another style (or maybe who didn't like Chinese food at all) decided to review Lao Sze Chuan and then proceeded to describe how they finally decided to visit LSC and "really wanted to like it" but just couldn't because the food was "just too dang hot and oily" to be enjoyable and then posted this commentary in a thread entitled "LSC , the culinay equivalent of waterboarding ", I think the problem would be more readiuly apparent.



    I think the issue is that you are asking the reviewer to have a perspective of a specific, and relatively small, community of foodies when rendering their individual opinion. It is as if you would want them to say, "LSC , the culinay equivalent of waterboarding (but what the heck do I know? I'm and uneducated rube when it comes to Szechuan food)". It doesn't work that way. When someone goes to LSC, orders Wonton soup and General Tso's Chicken, and complains that the food "sucks" I obviously roll my eyes and laugh but that is the reality for that person. I wouldn't expect them write a different review of the place based on my level of familiarity with the cuisine or establishment. It comes down to understanding that an individual opinion is one source and should be recognized as such.
  • Post #23 - April 29th, 2009, 7:20 pm
    Post #23 - April 29th, 2009, 7:20 pm Post #23 - April 29th, 2009, 7:20 pm
    kuhdo wrote:"two thumbs blandly sideways"... clearly a negative charactarization.


    Well, technically, wouldn't the thumbs need to be down in order to be negative?

    Anyway, I don't really think Silver Seafood is in any danger or losing business over the title of this thread.
    -Josh

    I've started blogging about the Stuff I Eat
  • Post #24 - April 29th, 2009, 8:00 pm
    Post #24 - April 29th, 2009, 8:00 pm Post #24 - April 29th, 2009, 8:00 pm
    kuhdo wrote:Midas' comment just points up the problem. What Gypsy boy sees as "bland" many would see as "delicate" or (to use jb's term) "subtle". To have people come away from this review with the sentiment Midas expresses is part of what makes me uncomfortable about the internet food review scene in general.


    My comment was a joke, hence the :twisted:

    But on a serious note, your original comment mentioned people only seeing the subject. Well you know what, screw those people. If they can't take the time to read the whole thread and see what multiple people have to say, they get what they deserve for being so lazy. It's no more unfair to the restaurant than a similar positive subject line that is disputed by everyone else that's tried the place. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose.
  • Post #25 - April 30th, 2009, 6:41 am
    Post #25 - April 30th, 2009, 6:41 am Post #25 - April 30th, 2009, 6:41 am
    kuhdo wrote:This is a more austere cuisine and doesn't reveal it's charms as readily as some others. It's not hard to see why some might find it bland or unexciting. But looking a bit harder, one might note lots of native eaters packing in on a regular basis. Along with positive reviews here and elsewhere from others who like this type of food, this should raise the suspicion that the OP might be missing something others have found...

    I think Gypsy Boy might readily acknowledge this last point, but what would you have him do? Write his review from the perspective of someone other than himself? That would not only be impossible, but singularly un-useful.

    The question has implications for all of us. Just yesterday I posted good words about a dish I ate at Bice. I have been in Italy just once in my life, three years ago, and only for twelve days. The parts of Italy I was in (Rome, Florence and Tuscany) may not even be the parts of Italy that Bice's kitchen cooks like. Then again they may be--the fact that I don't even know is telling! I have never done a study of Italian cuisine; I have only eaten it. I have no idea whether the dish I ate at Bice was "supposed" to taste the way it did. I have eaten similar pasta dishes, and this was near the top of all of them, but that doesn't mean the dish was correct. On the other hand, it may have been spectacularly correct. The fact that I don't know which--should that stop me from writing my impressions? From trying to describe, objectively and subjectively, the experience of the dish as best I can? If these are the ground rules, LTH should have only 1% of the posts it has, if that many.

    I am sensitive to and applaud your wanting to defend the business of Silver Seafood, kuhdo. They work hard to please a lot of people, and you don't want to see their hard work damaged. I admire that. But I don't think the solution is to put Gypsy Boy between a rock and a hard place (the rock--his wanting to be true to his experience; the hard place--his lack of authority on the cuisine). He will have a lot of company there.
  • Post #26 - April 30th, 2009, 12:07 pm
    Post #26 - April 30th, 2009, 12:07 pm Post #26 - April 30th, 2009, 12:07 pm
    The more I follow this thread, the less I can see why there is any controversy at all sustaining it.
    No matter what you do in the world---cooking, interior decoration, Web design---someone is going to hate the way you do it. And say so. And them's the breaks folks. If you do your thing well, then those people will probably be in a small minority, and you and your business will thrive on the custom of those who appreciate your work.
    As for the board: hosting diverse opinion is what we're here for. Usually, if someone disses a restaurant out of sheer closed mindedness and ignorance, their post pretty well speaks for itself.
    Conversely, if someone opens up a discussion by saying clearly that they tried something---a particular place, or a type of cuisine---and they just didn't get it, then there is an implicit or explicit request for input, for some insight, for additional perspective: maybe you just don't like X, or that place is a controversial exponent of X cuisine, or sounds like you ordered wrong for your own basic preferences, maybe go back but try Y, and Z and see if you like that better, etc. And so a potentially useful thread gets started.
    Meanwhile, as Midas points out, for users of the site, I can't see that it's asking too much to assume that anyone scrolling through here can tell that opinions are subjective and that in most cases, in any thread, from food to decor to service, there are a host of "yea" and "nay" voices all contributing to the conversation.
    Gypsy Boy can point his thumbs any way he wants. It's one opinion, not an extra-judicial death sentence for the restaurant.
    Vive la conversation. Two thumbs enthusiastically, subjectively, up.
    "Strange how potent cheap music is."
  • Post #27 - April 30th, 2009, 9:37 pm
    Post #27 - April 30th, 2009, 9:37 pm Post #27 - April 30th, 2009, 9:37 pm
    While I understand what mrbarolo and Riddlemay are saying, I think it's worth noting that compliments and criticisim differ in several important ways. Compliments along with other forms of positive commentary can usually (within acceptable social paramaters) be offered freely, as in general they are not likely to result in any harm to the parties involved (even if unwarranted) and are actually much more likely to have a positive impact on all concerned. Criticisim on the other hand needs to be handled much more carefully given the potential for it to have a negative impact, which would certainly be an unfortunate consequence if not deserved.

    As a completely random example, take the case of an internet food board. Someone posts a positive review about a place that isn't really very good. What's the worst case scenario? Somebody winds up with a meal they don't really enjoy. The Restaurant owner get a little business he doesn't really deserve. Ultimately, the diner will decide whether or not to return based on his own assessment of the food and if the restaurant looses that business they have only themselves to blame. The situation will come to a justified equilibrium. Now, in the case of an undeserved negative review things don't work out so well. Some people will decide just not to go. The restaurant never gets a chance to redeem itself.That business may well be gone for good. The diner never gets the opportunity to experience the food and judge it for himself. Both wind up losing something through no fault of their own. This is the reason I think it's important to make sure criticism is dispensed fairly, and why I'm not nearly as concerned about off the cuff accolades.

    This is also the reason I'm not likely to post anything negative about something I'm not at least a little familiar with. After all, This board should be about what's good (and what's not), not simply about what any individual poster might or might not like (I think that's what YELP is for).
    Lacking fins or tail
    The Gefilte fish
    swims with great difficulty.

    Jewish haiku.
  • Post #28 - April 30th, 2009, 11:05 pm
    Post #28 - April 30th, 2009, 11:05 pm Post #28 - April 30th, 2009, 11:05 pm
    kuhdo wrote:This board should be about what's good (and what's not), not simply about what any individual poster might or might not like

    Don,

    In the main members of LTHForum conveys what they think is "good" by offering subjective opinions as to what they like and don't like. In the case of GypsyBoy and Silver Seafood, which I ambivalent about as well, he thoughtfully offered context for his opinion.

    Far as the negative subject line goes there is precedent for this type of title to take off into exceptionally interesting threads with widely divergent opinion. Which it already has.

    Negative subject lines garnering so much attention reminds me of the old Usenet/newsgroup saw, if you want an answer don't post a question, post an incorrect answer. People are more inclined to correct than answer questions.

    Enjoy,
    Gary
    Hold my beer . . .

    Low & Slow
  • Post #29 - May 1st, 2009, 8:51 am
    Post #29 - May 1st, 2009, 8:51 am Post #29 - May 1st, 2009, 8:51 am
    This has been a very interesting thread - especially as we aren't talking about SS specifically and that's the beauty of this forum (as has been pointed out)

    kuhdo I disagree strongly with your take that reviews should not be negative based on what you have posted above (quoted below); here's why:
    (separation into 'sections' mine)
    kuhdo wrote: A As a completely random example, take the case of an internet food board. Someone posts a positive review about a place that isn't really very good. What's the worst case scenario? Somebody winds up with a meal they don't really enjoy. The Restaurant owner get a little business he doesn't really deserve. Ultimately, the diner will decide whether or not to return based on his own assessment of the food and if the restaurant looses that business they have only themselves to blame. The situation will come to a justified equilibrium.

    B Now, in the case of an undeserved negative review things don't work out so well. Some people will decide just not to go. The restaurant never gets a chance to redeem itself.That business may well be gone for good. The diner never gets the opportunity to experience the food and judge it for himself. Both wind up losing something through no fault of their own. This is the reason I think it's important to make sure criticism is dispensed fairly, and why I'm not nearly as concerned about off the cuff accolades.

    C This is also the reason I'm not likely to post anything negative about something I'm not at least a little familiar with. After all, This board should be about what's good (and what's not), not simply about what any individual poster might or might not like (I think that's what YELP is for).


    A
    For the unjustified positive review - not just somebody, but many people will end up with bad meals. Why is there a responsibility to establishments and not to the individual readers?
    B For the negative reviews, if some people don't go based on simply the title of a thread then sure the restaurant looses some business - but if the food is in fact good, why don't you think there are forces (say, other reports or responses) that will restore equilibrium (as in the positive review case)?

    Also seeing incorrect positive reviews (and incorrect negative reviews) cause a loss of credibility for the forum. That affects not just the restaurant reviewed in that thread but for all other reviews on that site.
    I disagree with C - because insight into the reviewer (based on posts) gives me a calibration as to whether I may or may not like the kinds of foods that reviewer does.

    Additionally I think this board is a great place to learn not simply a repository of good and bad reviews. So I'm glad that Gypsy Boy posted his experience and sought input in trying to learn about the cuisine and understand his not positive (as opposed to negative) experience. I think we are all the richer for it.
    Gypsy Boy wrote:We wanted to like it. We really did. But we didn’t. I’ll be genuinely interested to hear from those who know more about the cuisine, this menu, or this place, where we went wrong in ordering (assuming that we did). On the other hand, maybe this is just the place to go for very lightly seasoned food.
  • Post #30 - May 1st, 2009, 8:18 pm
    Post #30 - May 1st, 2009, 8:18 pm Post #30 - May 1st, 2009, 8:18 pm
    Rabbi Sazerac brings up some valid points, yet my concern about the potential impact of undeserved negative commentary is unchanged. While it's true that in theory there might be/ should be forces acting to counteract the effects of such commentary, that's just not how it works in real life, where it's unfortunately always the case that bad news travels fast. The effect is further amplified, possibly to an unhealthy extent here at LTH where the active posters represent only the tinyest tip of the lth iceberg and most visitors to the site come to see what those posters have to say, rather than to make a contribution of thier own. Just look at the number of threads with hundreds, even thousands of views and only a handful of replies to see this for yourself.

    To make matters even more problematic in this regard, a very few of the active posters have a great deal of impact on the tone and course of the discussion and a negative or even lukewarm response by one of these elders can stop any further discussion dead in it's tracks. It's fortunate that most of these power posters are fairly good reviewers, and can usually be relied upon for a fair assesment of a spot's merits. But this is not always the case and even they can miss the mark when venturing outside of thier area of expertise.

    A little dissing goes a long way in general but because of these dynamics it goes an incredibly long way on the internet , especially here at lth.
    Lacking fins or tail
    The Gefilte fish
    swims with great difficulty.

    Jewish haiku.

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