The Lebanese love to eat out and love to share their opinion — put those two elements together and you would expect to find a robust culture of restaurant reviews. But do the Lebanese really make restaurant choices based on reviews? Yelp—the popular restaurant review site—has yet to make its debut in the country, but many Lebanese take to Zomato, Facebook, and other platforms to voice their complaints.



Take Grand Café, for example. It has a slew of bad reviews (2/5 stars) on Facebook and the restaurants management seems completely unfazed by it. I went to Grand Café and talked to some of the diners there to see if online reviews had any part in their decision making process. One diner, Mohammad, 23, told me that he never checks reviews: “I’m coming to eat, I’m not coming to do research.” When I asked him about his thoughts on bad reviews he said: “3adi (It’s normal), all restaurants have bad reviews.”

Another diner, Leila, 26, told me that she believed that most reviews were personal grudges against the owners of the business: “For sure, the other restaurants tell their friends and I don’t know who, to write bad reviews. I don’t think a regular person will write one paragraph attack about how bad a restaurant is.”

Not all diners agreed though. Nadine, 19, said that it was her first time at Grand Café and after learning about the negative reviews, she said she completely agreed. “The food was so bad!” she said. When I asked her if she would come back she surprisingly said yes. “I love the sea view, I mainly like it for the view and the nargileh.”

So I guess the consensus is that considering food reviews are not yet the norm—and if you are a restaurant with a sea view, you seem to have little to worry about.

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Because of the numerous food outlets in Lebanon, we are spoilt for choice. When i visit a restaurant and find it lacking in quality, service, value for money or any other factor, i have the option, and I do excersise the option, of not returning to it. As for reading commentaries, yes i do, but give it a shot any way. Thereafter the decision to return or not is mine to make.

Vahe Barsoum on Aug 30, 2016 via web