One more night in Venice, and I have been struck repeatedly not only on this trip but over the past few years how much restaurants and to only a slightly lesser degree hotels (esp in Europe) want you to write a good tripadvisor review. I am regularly given cards to do so. As one of their Top Contributors, I know 'I count', which is not how I feel with airlines or hotel chains anymore.
For four straight days I have been given restaurant cards with tripadvisor info on it. Today I went to a restaurant and was almost rude (well, almost -- polite is my default so my rude is many people's very pleasant) as I considered going in. I noticed a tour group in the rear and my past experience with places where tour groups go has not been good. I spoke in Italian to the man trying to get me in and told him about le mie esperienze con i gruppi. He then assured me that I would be treated like an honored guest. At that point I asked him if his fish was really good (I never do this kind of thing!). Also I was well dressed. Finally I said okay and he gave me my choice of all the non-group space. I was immediately treated to a complimentary spritz. I ordered gamberoni fritti (lightly fried jumbo shrimp) as a first course and grilled astice (lobster). You'd think a Mainer wouldn't order lobster in Venice, but it is absolutely delicious -- every time I have it here. I will post my photos on tripadvisor (as ProfT) of Il Trovatore when I get home, but either the owner or proprietor came over with his ICamera and took a photo of the enormous lobster plate (with me in the photo, unfortunately). I fear I will displayed for years to come, even though the lobster was much more attractive. I was also much more comfortable when first an Italian couple came in and then a group of gondoliers (if you want to know if a place has good food, look for gondoliers). Everything was amazing from then on in -- the food delicious, the service great, (the group even left early), and when I had successfully shown my Maine skills on the lobster and finished it I was once again given a complimentary sgroppina as I was at Al Fontego.
Before I left everyone all the staff of the restaurant shook my hand and thanked me, gave me the tripadvisor card, and then added a 15% discount card for all future meals at the restaurant since I come to Venice often.
I have seen this Tripadvisor phenomenon at almost all restaurants in Europe -- so we still do have some power left!; servi