I have trouble extending that credulity to some of the on-line restaurant reviews I read, though.
atara and I are going out for a moderately-fancy sushi feed this evening for our anniversary (we decided to postpone our fancy dinner until today because neither of us have to work tomorrow). While I was checking out the restaurant this morning to see if they take reservations, I got distracted by some of the sites where people can post reviews. I glanced briefly at Yelp, but turned most of my attention to Urban Spoon (which has a much larger presence up here). The majority of the reviews were very positive, and matched my own impressions of the place. Interspersed with those were occasional bad reviews. Not just bad, but so negative that I had trouble resolving them with everything else on the site.
I have a bit of trouble actually believing some of the negative reviews. Mixed sparingly among the positive ones, they just don't pass the smell test of honesty. They read like somebody who was mad about something, and posted a negative critique with as many hot buttons as they could add. That is not to say that I discount all negative reviews - there are credible ones that start with, "I have been coming here a lot, and while I used to like the place a lot, my last couple of visits have been less-than stellar..." Usually reviews of that type tend to be thoughtful and reasoned, describing things that the restaurant needs to improve.
The ones I am sceptical about are the ones where, after two positive reviews by other people, somebody posts a diatribe about how horrible the place is. These reviewers almost invariable went there with their family or their girl/boy friend who they were hoping to impress.
"I heard good things about this place, so I decided to treat my family out for sushi. We made reservations and arrived well in advance but the hostess refused to acknowledge us. When they finally spoke to us after almost forty minutes, they accused us of coming late for our reservation and told us we would have to wait another thirty minutes. An hour later we were finally seated, and then they ignored us for twenty minutes until I chased after one of them for a menu. They got rude when we only ordered water to drink, and we had to chase after them for every refill. I ordered the fugu and my wife ordered the deep fried wagyu beef skewers well-done. The fugu just tasted like puffer fish to me, and my wife's beef skewers were dry. Then they had the gall to charge us a premium for it. When I complained loudly about it, they finally agreed to comp us a desert, but by then we were done with this place. It was the worst food and slowest, rudest service I have ever received in my life. Our lives were DESTROYED. Our children cried all the way home and now they are in therapy. I give this place zero starts out of five for ruining our family outing with the worst, WORST food and service I have ever experienced. This place is TERRIBLE. We are TRAUMATIZED. From now on we will be going to [rival restaurant]."
One review that I took with a large grain of salt was where the reviewer waxed poetic about the poor quality of the chicken in the Indian buffet. Apparently it was dry and chewy, and tasted like it had been left out for hours.
It is, and always has been a vegetarian restaurant.