This article describes famous food critic S. Irene Verbila (what dickwad starts their name with an initial? "My name is N. John Robinson." It's worse than just having one name. Maybe she should just call herself "S") being unmasked by a panicked restaurateur (remember, Flock, no "n" in restaurateur!!)
God, I just wish I could just get to the point sometimes instead of getting waylaid by digressions. But I digress.
The woman shows up for some trendy upmarket NY restaurant and her party is forced to wait something like 45 minutes. Owner, obviously having recognized her, pulls out Secret Weapon X, and to ward off an almost-certain negative review, takes the upper hand, refuses her party service and posts her picture on some website. Quick thinking! It solves so many problems; no bad review (in fact, no review at all!) but a huge deal of exposure through the resulting buzz in the foodie world. Champion of chef-owners defeats evil slime goddess of food-reviewing Gehenna!
As usual, the two camps burst into action with vitriolic diatribes and the like. Some reviewer said he'd gone into some restaurant one day, but it was the next day at some other fancy place where he got the red carpet while the plebes sat near the swinging kitchen door.
I say: who the fuck cares? I'm of the firm opinion that if you show up at a restaurant and are recognized on the spot, what are they going to to do besides give you a good table? Move the restaurant a bit to the left? A horrible dish can't be magically made into a mouthwatering sensation in 45 minutes.
The only time this ever happened to me, and believe me, I WANTED to be recognized (but nobody cared anyway!) I actually went in to a souvlaki joint (Marathon, a chain) wearing my montrealfood.com T-shirt. Mind you, this was a long time ago, but my companion and I immediately observed that the manager was acting distinctly nervous, and he eventually came over and said "Uh, you're from that . . . uh . . . website. Are you reviewing us today?" I cheerfully said yes, and the food was great, but no one stumbled all over themselves to serve us, we got what everyone else got, and about the only thing out of the ordinary was that they gave us a tour of the kitchen. Pretty cool it was, too.
And I have been out with reviewers a lot more famous than I who were spotted immediately, who got schmoozy with the chef and all sorts of things, but I didn't notice any particular uplift in service or portion size. (In fact, I recall that one of those dinners was rather dismal, and the reviewer wrote it up so.)
I figure, don't go to a restaurant with a review in mind. No need to trash it because of your 45-minute wait. If you're hugely influential, like the reviewer for a town's major newspaper, keep in mind that your petty whims might result in people losing their jobs. Or your honeyed praise might make the restaurant boom for weeks.
That's all you have to think about. Being recognized is not going to change one single vital thing in a serious restaurant review.