How to sniff out fake restaurant reviews

You want to try out a new restaurant tonight, but aren’t sure where to go. Unfortunately, all the conflicting opinions about local eateries that you’ve read online don’t make your decision any easier.

Someone named Anna G. says the bistro down the street is infested with cockroaches and the food there is inferior to the restaurant a couple doors down. Yet another reviewer who goes by the name Charlie M. says that same bistro has the best steak frites in town and gives it an enthusiastic five stars.

With user-generated review sites such as Yelp, Chowhound, OpenTable, Zagat and Urbanspoon, anyone can be a restaurant critic. But when that also means restaurant owners, competitors and disgruntled former staff can weigh in under the guise of impartial diners, how can you weed out the dishonest reviews from the legitimate ones?

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