Who Should Be Allowed to Review Restaurants?

A couple of days ago I posted about a restaurant. So big deal, right? Except it's the first time in a long time because I am all angsty and confused about what kind of participation I should have in restaurant reviews and Chowhound posts. I'm the editor in chief of CHOW, so I visit more places than the average restaurant-goer and I sometimes get an early look that would be a useful addition to Chowhound. The problem is that as a spokesperson for the site, I do get interviewed and so I could be recognized, and I feel like I might be crossing some line to write a review. It's not like I'm Tony Bourdain, but I don't have the wig-and-glasses anonymity that Ruth Reichl used to have either.

Besides, so much of what we do depends on the participation of restaurant professionals—thanks, Daniel Humm and Charles Phan, for making videos with us! But what if I didn't like Humm's Eleven Madison or Phan's Slanted Door? Would I hold back on the negative comments because they are our collaborators? Would I choose not to negatively review, say, Prune, because it would be awfully nice if Gabrielle Hamilton shot something with us? But hey, that would never happen, because I love Prune, Gabrielle! (See what I mean?) What do you think? Should somebody who has a professional relationship with restaurants and restaurateurs—me, I mean—be able to review restaurants? Or even participate in Chowhound discussions?

Photograph by Chris Rochelle