In ways, a restaurant critic’s job is like that of a private investigator. He visits a restaurant unannounced, clandestinely takes notes about the highs and lows of his experience, and reports these back to his client, the reader.
Sometimes the line between critic and private eye becomes even more blurred. Just ask Tom Sietsema, who covers D.C.-area restaurants for the Washington Post. The Sunday after Thanksgiving this year, Sietsema conducted an online chat with readers in lieu of a review. One wrote in:
Well Tom your latest review is accompanied by a picture of my husband dining with a woman who isn’t me! Once confronted with photographic evidence, he confessed to having an ongoing affair. Just thought you’d be amused to hear of your part in the drama. This Thanksgiving I’m grateful to you for exposing a cheat!
Sietsema wrote back that he hoped it was a crank post, adding that he’d hate to learn otherwise, but then followed up with a cautionary note on Twitter that contained a snapshot of the Q & A.