Can a restaurant pay to be on a top 5?
No. All Top 5 restaurants are chosen by the writers and editorial team. Our site policy prohibits us from accepting money, credit or other forms of compensation. inthehammer.com has never accepted (nor will we ever accept) money or another form of compensation in return for a review or a place on a Top 5.
How do you determine the top 5?
We create a poll on the website where readers can weigh in on their favourites. We then create a poll our Facebook followers and consult our own food editorial team. After that, we compile a list and send an inthehammer.com food writer to try the locations/cuisines. The number of places we try may vary depending on how many restaurants serve that specific food. We have a set of scores that we have for each food category. Once all the places have been scored, we create a Top 5.
How does a restaurant advertise on the site?
The only way a restaurant or any business can advertise on the site is to purchase banner advertising.
Do you accept paid top 5’s or advertorials?
No. We have never run an advertorial or allowed any business or advertiser to pay for a write-up or review.
If a restaurant advertises on the site via banner ads, are you more likely to review them?
No. We are very clear about this policy with restaurants that choose to advertise with us.
How do you decide what restaurants to put on the top 5’s?
We encourage our writers to review restaurants that they’ve been eating at as part of their normal social life. We do not encourage writers to eat at restaurants for the express purpose of writing a review. While we make suggestions to writers from time to time and highlight new restaurants or other places that look interesting, it’s ultimately up to each writer on our team to decide where to eat and what to review.
Do you assign restaurants to review?
No. Our editors will suggest places, but it’s ultimately up to each writer to decide where to eat and what to review.
Can a writer only write a positive review?
No. Each writer is encouraged to write a detailed and accurate depiction of their dining experience, good or bad.
How long after a restaurant opens will you wait to review it?
As soon as a restaurant is open, serving customers and charging for meals, we feel it is fair game to review it. We recognize that some publications (mostly traditional newspapers or magazines) will wait at least a few weeks for a restaurant to “iron out the kinks” before they visit and review it. We typically do not do this. However, we let readers know if a restaurant has just opened its doors so that readers can make their own judgements about whether any issues with the food or service were due to typical start-up hiccups or something else.
Does inthehammer.com get invited to restaurant events and media openings? If so, is this how a restaurant gets reviewed?
We do get invites to restaurant events and openings and sometimes our writers attend them. However, our writers are not permitted to review a restaurant at a media or opening event. If they choose to attend, they are simply doing it for fun or to learn more about the restaurant. Also, just because a writer attends one of these events does not mean that they or anyone else from inthehammer.com will ever return to review the restaurant.
Can restaurants pay to be included in inthehammer.com’s listing?
No. All listings are added at our editorial team’s discretion. We are constantly scouring the city to add places that are not included. We do not allow restaurants to pay us to be included.
Have you ever accepted money from a restaurant for a listing, review or profile?
No. And we never will.
When a writer profiles a restaurant, does inthehammer pay for the meal?
Yes, we pay for the meal. If the restaurant is aware that the diner is from inthehammer.com and insists he or she eat for free, we inform them that restaurants that provide complimentary food cannot be reviewed or placed on a Top 5. Writers are advised not to disclose their affiliation with inthehammer.com (unless asked directly — writers are not instructed to lie) to ensure they’re enjoying a typical dining experience. In some cases, reviewers asking more questions about the restaurant’s food prep techniques, history or background might disclose their affiliation to justify seeking additional info not often requested by typical diners.
Does a restaurant ever suspect it is being reviewed?
Sometimes it’s difficult to maintain anonymity, but we try be as discreet as possible. Our reviewers usually smartphones with high quality cameras to take photos of their food. Reviewers are sometimes asked by their server or a manager why they are taking photos. If this situation arises, we advise reviewers to disclose that they are taking photos for an inthehammer.com review.
So won’t this bias the review?
In situations where this has happened, our reviewer has almost always spent a substantial amount of time interacting with staff and sampling various dishes and beverages. In other words, it’s unlikely that a restaurant can really do anything (if they wanted to) to affect the quality of food and service the reviewer has already received.
Does a writer ever disclose they are reviewing the restaurant, un-prompted?
Sometimes. This would generally only occur during or after a meal if the writer or photographer wanted to ask permission to take additional photos or ask the staff any questions about the restaurant or dining experience in order to learn more about the establishment or how the food is prepared.
Our main goal is simply to be as transparent about our process as possible. We aim to provide the most useful and objective information about restaurants we can, and we strive to maintain the highest ethical standards in our approach.