It's time for another edition of Adventures in Shilling, in which Eater fights shilling the best way possible, by shaming tasteless, unscrupulous shills into submission. Well, that's the plan, at least. Fight shills yourself by dropping offensive links to firstname.lastname@example.org.
In this round of shill detection, we take a look at reviews for Charlemagne, Grape & Vine, Cherrywood Kitchen, and Manon. Here are some of the gems from the latest foray into the dirty world of online reviewing:
First up, it's a little concerning that hot food is the major selling point in this Yelp review for Cherrywood Kitchen? The reviewer opens:
There's nothing worse than getting some lukewarm food, and everything we got that was supposed to be served hot was piping hot, very fresh, and extremely delicious....But that's just the beginning. This reviewer just can't get enough of those hot, hot dishes:
...the real way to go is to order the side of Bone Marrow Clay Pot Rice ($8). As I mentioned above, everything here is served nice and hot, but I actually managed to burn myself on this dish (but that's a good thing). This was a very generous portion of piping hot sticky rice with some bits of bone marrow scattered on top. This was the perfect complement to the deliciously rich chicken and eel...
And the heat continues on into dessert:
We opted for the interesting sounding Crunch and Munch Crumble Pie ($10). This was a hot, gooey, very satisfying pie, with a buttery crispy crust. My only complaint is that there wasn't enough of it. Also, it could have used a nice side of ice cream to offset the heat and extreme sweetness of the pie. But still, this was an awesome dessert and I would happily get it again.
If these all seem like weird selling points, the review finally does conclude with a more run-of-the-mill set of shills:
The atmosphere in here is very nice too, and the service is impeccable. This place is great, and I hope they take off and get the success they deserve with such good food. I will definitely be back soon to try the ribs, which everybody else here seemed to be getting and which looked just as delicious and satisfying as everything else we ate here.Shill Probability: 78 percent.
One Eater commenter seems suspiciously sure of what to get at Charlemagne, the newly opened "American brasserie" in the West Village:
The menu looks good to me! Wednesday is Spaghetti Carbonara night. Perfect with a glass of Trimbach. Start off with $5 basket of gougeres, some Bone Marrow Home Frites, you are all set.Shill Probability: 88 percent.
Somehow, the "oh, I just happened to be passing by" story from this Yelp review of Grape & Vine doesn't seem entirely convincing:
The hotel's exterior caught my eye as I was passing by (it's inside the Jade Hotel) so I stopped to take a look. After a glance at the menu and a quick peek inside the venue, I changed my dinner reservation to Grape and Vine and checked it out with a few girlfriends. They opened just a few weeks ago and given the speed at which word gets around in NYC, I was surprised that such a beautiful and honestly, quite solid restaurant was so empty at the time (I went on a Sunday evening). Hopefully that will change soon...Shill Probability: 88 percent.
...We had the cheese plate, chestnut fennel soup, foie gras torchon, wild mushroom risotto, lamb ragout papardelle, and braised lamb shank with polenta. To my surprise, everyone really enjoyed the food with no complaints whatsoever! We were especially pleased that the vegetarian among us was able to have everything she wanted without compromising, which is especially tough to do with New American cuisine.
There are a few red flag phrases in this review of The Clarkson from one Eater commenter, but it was the plea at the end that really tipped us off:
Went last night and Loved Loved Loved everything, the cocktails are amazing, the service is perfection and everything on the menu is to die for. The decor is fabulous, its authentically vintage while still fresh and cool. A perfect evening - this place has staying power, just needs more press.Shill Probability: 93 percent.
One Yelp review of Manon was just a bit fishy (!!):
Went there on a date with my wife. Space is spectacular! Service is spot on! and the food outstanding. Have the Hamachi and Dorade none better anywhere and we eat out a lot! Go there soon because when the word gets out its going to be difficult to get a reservation!!Shill Probability: 94 percent.
But then this lengthy review from another Yelper managed to take shilling to a whole new level. To be fair, maybe it's not Manon they're shilling for, but the whole MePa scene...
The newest player on the New York "is it a restaurant or is it a lounge?" scene, Manon surpassed our expectations on every level. Our night at this just-opened-hotspot began with drinks at the bar before our 10PM dinner and parlayed into cocktails at a table in its downstairs lounge. I make no guarantees as to the type of crowd Manon will attract once the soft openings wind down and Manon finds its groove, but speaking for last night alone, I hope it sticks around
....The lounge / bar area is nothing short of cool. Imagine exposed bricks and a dark, dimly lit intimate space looking directly at a bar that is illuminated with bright red and blue neon lights. The cocktail list does not actually have a single mention of alcohol, instead choosing to describe its custom-created libations by their scents and essences. An odd concept, but one that produced great results for all of my friends, thanks in part to the help from a very knowledgeable bartender
...While the music and chatter is certainly lively and buzzing (think MPD a year and a half ago), you're shielded from the downstairs lounge area. In fact, it wasn't until we finished dinner that we realized that the area had turned into a club.
After all this ambiance, the review briefly touches on food:
We began our meal by splitting the Hamachi, which tasted fresh and airy and was a perfect start. I ordered the dorade (the chef's specialty), which came out in all its glory - with the skin and head - but de-boned and stuffed with amazing fresh dill. We also split the Brussels sprouts, which were divine, albeit the honey butter made them a bit more gluttonous than they normally would be. My friends raved about their duck and cod, both of which I sampled and can highly recommend.
Shill Probability: 99 percent