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Adventures in Shilling: New Openings, New Shills

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Adventures in Shilling is a celebration of the latest and greatest shills from around the world wide web. As always, you too can help fight shills. Today, we bring you a special three-for-one edition.


There's no denying that San Francisco is a tough place for new restaurants to succeed; given skyrocketing rents and tough labor laws, some may even say The City is the most unforgiving restaurant environment in the country. So, what's one way to get your brand new business off to a running start? Why, head to the granddaddy of online reviews: Yelp.

Leading off, we have the following cannonade of five-star paid advertisement for Craig's Place, opened 10/10/07:

I went here today for the soft opening and I have to say it's mmm mmmm good. Not only was the food tasty but it was also FREE!!!! but only for today so ha ha. The owner seems like a pretty friendly guy and the waitstaff was quite attentive. I know they will do well on this cursed corner spot b/c the mission needs another breakfast place, and I order enough "to go" food to kill a pony. Okay, maybe a miniature pony. Eat here, it's dinerly delicious.

Shill Probability: despite the blatantly bought review (+1 WSJ), given the full disclosure of the free meal and the (apparent) non-relationship to the restaurant, we'll go easy on them: N/A

Up next, a first-time/last-time reviewer chimes in on Cellar360, opened 10/15/07:

Cellar 360 opened today at Ghirardelli Square. There is a wine tasting bar with a stellar view of the harbor and Alcatraz. They will have wine education classes, cooking demonstrations and all sorts of fun activities. There is a great variety of wine to choose from and really nice gifts for food and wine people. There's even a little cafe where you can buy lunch or a snack. Love this place!

Shill Probability: 85%

Rounding out the group is a veritable press release on Frisee, opened 10/16/07:
I was fortunate enough to be at the pre-opening for this soon to be Castro Hot Spot. I had expected nothing less than stellar food, wine and service from the Niebergall Brothers what I hadn't expected was how great the ambience and design would be. I thought this would be a great casual grab and go type place but it's so much more than that. I will definitely be coming back to grab a fresh salad to go but also to hang out upstairs at night for a leisurely light meal with one of their fabulous sustainably grown wines and champagnes . I also did not expect fine dining presentation at casual cafe prices! Ok but to the food. It was a limited menu and I can't wait to go back to try more items but we all started with a soup that was Chicken chowder. It was like my mom's chicken soup with a mexican flare. Something that might not have sounded like it would work but it worked beautifully and creatively like all of their dishes with no salt shaker needed. The entree Salads were all incredibly fresh, crisp and clean. I could mention them all but to keep this review from lasting until Lunch itself I will put my #1 reccommend on the Tartare. It's a stack of layers. Ahi Tuna Tartare, Salmon Tartare, Corn, Onions, Avocado served with Greens, potato crisps and a very light sesame dressing. The combination was perfection. I suggest you check out this restaurant and the sooner the better before the lines wind around for two blocks!!!

Shill Probability: 99%

As for us, our "#1 reccommend" is that new restaurants get a little more creative in their shilling. Shilling on Yelp is so passé. Let's see some evolution, people.

See some fishy reviews? Send them our way, because only you can help prevent shilling.