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Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Second helpings: Why review Truffles Grill at all?

The dining room at Truffles Grill
Is there even a decent reason to review somewhere like Truffles Grill? Especially if I have nothing surprising to say?

As usual, the commenters on my story are playing out the exact arguments I had with myself about the review. I considered not even writing it. As commenter Kelly W. said, "Change the name and you've just reviewed every O'Charlie's, Houstons, Cheesecake Factory, and so forth in the country."

But there are two reasons why I decided to review Truffles. The first is that it's slightly different from many other chain restaurants in that it's modeled after a well-liked restaurant in Hilton Head, one that many Atlantans may have visited and enjoyed. It's represented by a major Atlanta PR firm (Melissa Libby PR). It has an overall rating of four stars on Open Table. It has received a ton of fawning chatter on blogs around town. (One post, from Pretty Southern, curiously went up yesterday after my review came out and bears a striking, almost word-for-word resemblance to the press release about Truffles I received a few weeks back). Even John Kessler has some positive things to say in his one star review for the AJC.

Given all that, I thought it was possible someone might mistake this place for a bona fide quality establishment. In fact, before I visited, I thought it might be decent. I was genuinely shocked at how bad it was. Because of that, I figured it might be news to other diners as well.

The second reason is that it gave me the opportunity to say something bigger about dining in general. In a nutshell: fancy isn't always better. I can genuinely say that I'd rather eat at Ruby Tuesday than Truffles. But apart from that, I hate the marketing of the idea of upscale without the quality. It's dishonest in a way that regular chain restaurants, for the most part, are not.

I've been thinking recently though, that it would be nice to get some feedback about what restaurants y'all would most like to see reviewed. Is it worth pointing out what's truly bad? Or would you rather only hear about places you should go?

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