clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Introducing The Week in Yelp

From the people who brought you The Week in Craig, one of the all time great uses of the internet, comes Eater's newest feature: The Week in Yelp, wherein Amy Blair takes aim at the ridiculousness that is the world of Yelp. Her intrepid Yelp-surfing, and words, follow:

2008_01_yelp.jpgAdmittedly, I have done a lot of stupid things in my lifetime (namely, my 22nd birthday, the infamous drunken sleepwalking incident of 2003, that time I ran naked into the edge of an otherwise frozen lake in February in Wisconsin on a dare, I could go on?), but perhaps none was more pointless than the night I exited the interstate and drove around random towns in Ohio in search of an Olive Garden while on an ill-advised road trip between New York and Chicago. I wasted about four hours of my life on this quest, since it was pretty hard to accept that there wasn't an O.G. around just about every corner in this otherwise perfect landscape of American wasteland.

In the end, much to our disbelief, my traveling companions and I just couldn't find an Olive Garden and wound up at Fazoli's, another staple of stoned Midwestern existence, only remarkable for their unlimited Diet Coke refills and five-dollar price tag. Alas! Who hasn't been to one of these chain restaurants? You're on the road, it's the only restaurant in your town, it's cheap?whatever the reason, there isn't a person alive who doesn't know exactly what to expect when they step through the doors of a national chain restaurant. And yet, amazingly, there are hundreds of "reviews"of these restaurants on Yelp. I spent about thirty seconds trying to figure out why anyone would take the time to do this, and then I got distracted by my television and made myself a sandwich.

Without further ado, onward to the dumbness!

In case you were dying to know how the quesadillas are at Chili’s in the Los Angeles airport?

STINK STANK STUNK...As I prepared to board an 18 hour flight, I thought I'd enjoy a nice, greasy, chain restaurant meal before slipping into a wine-induced coma on the plane. Little did I know that my burger would include a complimentary side of nasty bar mat funk. The burger was fine, but the smell of stale beer, old dishrags, and wet dog emanating from the the bar was almost too vile to put into words. If you're going to eat here, grab a table instead.

Also on a related note from a prior visit...how the fuck does it take 20 minutes to make a chicken quesadilla?!? Are you hand-making the tortillas? Are you slaughtering the chicken? Get your act together! People have flights to catch!
I know, shocking, right? Hear ye, hear ye, the Chili’s in LAX is not good, repeat, not good! Next time you are on your way out of town, save yourself four dollars and eat at McDonalds. This review brought to you by another Yelp user who thinks that anyone actually cares.

Moving on. I’m going out on a limb here and guessing that it’s not changing anyone’s life to find out that the T.G.I. Friday’s in Brooklyn did not carry the as-advertised $12.99 three-course menu. Oh, the horror.

We were debating on a Friday early evening before routinely forgetting the rest of the night the next morning: TGI fridays, takeout, pizza....

I saw the commercials. 3 delicious courses that look so delicious on those TV screens when I'm wasting my life away watching golf, the rain, or flies........flying.
12.99 USD.

Its not at this one.

The cheapest item was 9 bucks. For an appetizer of chicken fingers. Most of their entrees were 17 to 25. AT A FARKIN' TGI FRIDAYS. WHY?!?! WHY?!?!?

We sat down, looked at the prices, had 3 different waiters come around to us probably because they would rather lounge around than serve the only people in the place (believe me, if i were them I'd have even less enthusiasm), and we said sorry no dice.

WHY?!?!? Where did that chicken come from? Batali's ass?

I guess that if you were as stoned as this dude it could make sense to post a review of Friday’s. Or not. Anyway, if chicken from Batali’s ass ain’t yo thang (ick), perhaps you might consider a nice trip to my personal favorite, Olive Garden. In case you were hoping that a Manhattan Olive Garden was going to provide you with totally authentic Italian cuisine and New York atmosphere?
Why would anyone go here? This place should be razed. With the diners still in it.

For people reading Yelp looking for restaurant recommendations: Stop at the front door. Start walking again, towards the subway, or heck, you could just hail a cab. Take the Q train from Times Square to Canal Street (it's like 3 stops), or tell the cab driver to take you to the corner of Mulberry and Grand. Get out of the train at Canal and battle the obnoxious tourists who think they are at Disney World and not on the streets of effing Manhattan until you get to Mulberry Street. Look up or down the block (depending on your mode of transportation) until you see a likely looking Italian restaurant. This, my friends, is the last vestiges of Little Italy.

Yes, it's true, Little Italy is full of very touristy restaurants, and little you find here will be truly "authentic" or "local" or "neighborhood dive" or whatever. But damn, at least it's better than Olive Garden.

Bonus points: Find out how to get to Arthur Avenue, in the Bronx.
Because oh so many people reading Yelp for restaurant reviews are even considering going to Olive Garden? Also, ok, sure. If we are going to compare the two, the experience of visiting Little Italy is certainly more interesting than going to a chain restaurant while vacationing in New York. But in terms of quality? Or even bang for your buck? Little Italy? Um, really? Although, the point is, this chick is actually writing a restaurant review of a freaking Olive Garden (!!) when the whole POINT of such a place is that there is no variation whatsoever from one to the next. Which really just makes my brain hurt.

Next week tune in as Yelp users review tap water?just in case you’ve never had it!

—Amy Blair

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for the Eater San Francisco newsletter

The freshest news from the local food world