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Adventures in Shilling: It's Hard Being the New Guy

Join us for another edition of Adventures in Shilling, wherein we celebrate the grossest shills from around the world wide web. As always, you too can help fight shills.

2008_04_luceshill.jpgIn a recent article in the Contra Costa Times, Acquacotta's John Couacaud pretty much sums up the supreme difficulty of making a new restaurant succeed: "'No one their right mind ever owns a restaurant." In other words, it's almost impossible to have a smash hit, with various failure estimates reaching 90%. Getting off to a strong start is key to any restaurant, and what better way to swell the opening crowds than to shill?

Take, for example, Luce. Only open for a few months, there have been some complaints about its parking situation and the like, but fortunately, someone—already a regular—points out how to tackle the problem:

"They are offering free parking at the hotel until July. A huge plus. We ate there again tonight and were blown away. Much more surprising, ambitious food than we find in the other high-end (and more pricecy) SF restaurants. Definitely our favorite."
Shill Probability: 43%
Not blatant enough for you? We're just getting started here. Here's the following rave pulled straight from the Eater Comments:
"Fabulous restaurant. Dominique Crenn is a culinary superstar, sexy and wicked with her slow-cooked meats and foie gras!

Bravo!"
Shill Probability: 55%

And the Luce winner, featuring a first-time-only-time reviewer, plenty of biographical data, responses to bad reviews and urges to try the restaurant:
"This is my first review on Yelp although I've been a user for some time. I felt compelled to write as my experience at Luce couldn't have been farther from that of the one 'The L' wrote about a few days ago. L must have been at a different restaurant - in fact it is possible as they wrote in their review that they asked where the wine is stored and there is a huge visible wine storage rack in the middle of the restaurant!

The food at Luce was absolutely fabulous. I would put it up there with Danko, Flur de Lys, and other 4 star restaurants in town. This was some of the most innovative cuisine in the city. Chef Dominique Crenn who has worked at both Campton Place and Stars in SF has really put together a fabulous menu from top to bottom ... [Ed note: shortened for length]

I can't say enough about our experience at Luce. It was absolutely fantastic and I will not only be back myself - I will be telling all my friends.

Go here with confidence you will have a fabulous meal and a great experience!!!"
Shill Probability: 93%

But lest we pick on Luce too much, there are plenty of other new restaurants looking to hit the ground running. Take for example, Berkeley's Cafe M and this post that appeared on Chowhound (note: since banned, with good reason):
"Café M is a great new place for breakfast, lunch and dinner in Berkeley’s Ocean View neighborhood just off Fourth Street. We had a fabulous dinner there last night, and lunch is equally good. The fresh Hawaiian Walu was amazing—a thick piece of moist and flavorful fish. Our dinner companion claimed the filet mignon was the best he’s ever had. Portions were generous and prices very reasonable. We appreciated the varied menu selection and wine list, airy and casual ambience, and personal service. Simon was an attentive, knowledgeable and personable waiter, and the pastry chef stopped by to talk with us. Café M is just getting started and we should all want to see this fine neighborhood restaurant thrive. A block off Fourth Street at Fifth and Delaware."
Shill Probability: 98%
Before we end this episode of Adventures in Shilling, let's pay a visit to another high-profile restaurant project that's starting a rivalry with an established dining destination. Take these two reviews, which appeared back-to-back on Yelp:
"Great dinner in a great new restaurant.

I went opening night to Chez Papa Resto. The space inside is pretty great - murano chandeliers, cool glass communal table, nice glittering candles on the tables outside.

For opening night, the service was excellent - I was expecting things to be a little shaky as the staff figured things out, but everything went really well. No real problems or delays

Food was excellent - started with the sweetbreads (great earthy flavor on a brown sauce with some fresh peas). My friend had the scallops with a wonderful pesto sauce. We both had the steak frites. Ended with a chocolate cake and the rum soaked pound cake (which was amazing). The sommelier recommended a terrific gigondas which went well with everything.

Really happy with this new place and glad that people are doing something to turn around the neighborhood. The whole plaza has been cleaned up and will make a terrific and better alternative to Belden Lane when they start serving lunch. Definitely check this place out!!!"
Shill Probability, on its own: 68%

The next review also knocks Belden Lane. Warning: offensive use of exclamation points follows:
"I went there with a friend and WAOOUUHHHHH !!!!! Let me tell you something:

This place is a must!!!! Forget Belden Lane tourist trap.

Food is excellent. I had the foie gras, crab salad, butter lettuce and the filet mignon plus french fries (yes we were very hungry!!!): OMG !!!!! Soooooooo Goooooddddd!!!

Foie Gras: 5 stars!!!!! it's a must! I loved it.
Butter lettuce: 5 stars, crispy, fresh and the mustard taste of the vinaigrette ahhhhh!!!
Crab Salad: Yummmy especially with the mango carpaccio
Filet mignon: a MUST!!!!!! excellent, and the potato gratin is to die for.
French fries of course: a very good classic

The service at the bar was excellent: friendly and professional
Same at the door, very friendly.
The ambiance: definitely different from Chez Papa bistro which is more cozy and smaller. But it's great too (for group and dates) No real need to get dress, casual is welcome.

I can't wait to have a lunch or a brunch outside.

Anyway, go there you won't regret."
Shill Probability, taken together: 95%

· Adventures in Shilling: Neighbors React to Kuletoville [~ESF~]
· Adventures in Shilling: This Post is a Jubili Knockoff [~ESF~]
· Adventures in Shilling Archives [~ESF~]

Chez Papa

1401 18th Street, San Francisco, CA 94107 (415) 824-8205

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