What the YELP is going on here?
So last month we took a road trip vacation to NYC. It’s not surprising that I had not been there before. After all, I’ve only been in the USA for a bit over 8 years. What is surprising is that my husband had never made it to the Big Apple yet. He has lived here his whole life. And not that he’s old but he has gotten some Senior discounts recently without even being asked his age! And no, he wasn’t happy about it. Anyway, we had started our trip out by crossing over into nearby Ontario, Canada. Our vacation started strong with a great concert, then a play and then a stay at Niagara Falls. And that was only the first weekend! That Monday morning we did some final sightseeing at the Falls and then got back into the car for what would be our longest travel day. We drove about an hour and then waited another hour in line to cross through the US Border checkpoint and into Buffalo, New York, USA. If your geography is about the same level as mine you have no idea how big the state of New York is but it’s actually quite large. And the city of Buffalo and NYC are several hundred miles and several more hours apart.
We had eaten a pretty huge breakfast at our hotel before leaving that morning so we didn’t really need much at lunchtime. But as the afternoon was moving on we started to think about dinner. We’ve become used to turning to our iPhone when it’s time to find a nearby restaurant. We frequently open up the Yelp app and see what’s nearby and how it’s rated. If you’re not familiar with Yelp, this service relies on people like you and me to provide ratings, comments, pictures and feedback on restaurants, bars, stores and just about anything you can think of. We’ve had pretty good luck with it, especially when we’re someplace new and unfamiliar. The rating of 1 to 5 stars makes it easier to narrow down our choices. One difference about driving in the eastern part of the country is that there are a LOT of toll roads. In Michigan all the roads are free. They’re in TERRIBLE shape with huge potholes but it doesn’t cost you anything to ruin your tires and wheels on them. All the service centers on the toll roads only had fast food choices but this was our vacation darn it. And I wanted some good food! So as my husband was driving I opened up Yelp and started looking. The only places I saw that had at least my minimum 4 star rating were either the opposite direction or miles off the toll road. So we kept driving and it kept getting later.
Now I was starting to get pretty hungry. Maybe a 3 star place wouldn’t be that bad. What do those reviewers know anyway? But now we were pretty much between any large cities and there was very little around. OK, 2 ½ stars would do but only this once. We found one at the next exit and got off to take a look. Not very many cars and it looked a bit scary. My husband looked at the ratings a bit closer and saw that there were only a few people who had anything good to say about it. We got back on the old highway this time to check out the next place that came up on the list. Hmmm, what’s that sign in the window? “CLOSED MONDAYS.” Huh. Stupid Yelp didn’t mention that. Oh well, looks like another place a couple more miles down the highway. Weeds. This place didn’t look like it had been open for a whole lot of Mondays or any other days. Alright, who’s in charge of this Yelp thing and why didn’t they know that? Back to the app. This time my husband got on his phone and called up the next place on the list. “Hello.” YAY, someone answered! And they were open and would be for a couple more hours. It was a cozy little diner in the center of a small town but they were open, clean and had a working kitchen. Good enough! By now we were so hungry it didn’t matter a lot what we were ordering so we asked about the chef’s recommendations. The menu was pretty much divided into three categories; deep fried, covered with gravy or deep fried AND covered with gravy. I went with the day’s special of fried chicken, potatoes with gravy and corn. I asked if they had any veggies and was told corn WAS a veggie! I guess I should have been more specific about the color of my veggies. But in fact the dinner was pretty tasty and the service friendly. I don’t think they got too many Chinese Fashion Bloggers dining in so the waitress was pretty attentive and curious. After dinner we got back in the car and headed on towards New York. We were going to be there tomorrow but still had a several hour drive to go. Anyway, we had full stomachs, and a full tank of gas, so what could go wrong? I’ve learned never to ask that question! Come back later and see how we did!
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