Restaurant reviewers rely upon anonymity

How do you chose which restaurant to cover in the Tempo dining reviews? Do the restaurants send you free coupons? And do you tell them when you're coming?

— Rick A. Grants Pass

Rick, Rick, Rick. Our journalistic integrity is doing a bit of a slow simmer here. Perhaps you didn't realize, but you're basically asking if we first accept a bribe, then announce our impending visit so we can be assured of special treatment and finally write our (wink, wink) unbiased review.

That's not how we whip up a restaurant review here at the Mail Tribune.

Here's how it works. A member of our small bunch of dedicated diners slips unannounced into an unsuspecting restaurant. Usually accompanied by one or more dining companions, the reviewer generally takes great pains not to allow the restaurant staff to know they're under scrutiny.

Why? Because we don't want any special treatment. We want to be treated just like every other Joe or Jane (or Rick) in the diner. How useful would our reviews be if we got goodies or extra service or larger portions that regular folks won't?

That being said, sometimes, if we've already eaten and have a clear idea of what we'll be saying about the food, we do talk to the chef or owner and include those comments in the review. But that's for color and spice. Not for debating, do-overs or free desserts.

Now that we've established our reviewers' credibility, here's a word on their validity. Anyone who's ever worked in the food service industry knows restaurants have their good and bad days, and palates are personal things. There's truth to the old saw "That's why they make chocolate and vanilla ice cream." So, as hard as we work to offer our unbiased reviews, please take our opinions with a grain of salt. Just don't mix the two. Unless you like salty ice cream.

Send questions to "Since You Asked," Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by e-mail to We're sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.

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