I've reviewed restaurants in Melbourne, Australia (for pay; yay!) and Tucson, Arizona (so far for free, boo! lol) and thus I definitely understand both sides of this argument. Let's be honest. Unless you are completely independent and the restaurants aren't going to advertise in the publication, even if the writer isn't swayed to write a biased review, the publication's editor is going to be. I had the unpleasant experience of having the most disgusting corned beef, EVER, in Australia and while my review said that, the final article didn't. I paid for that meal. Unfortunately. For another review, I received a great meal (FREE) from one of the places I reviewed and fortunately the steak was magnificent so I had no qualms about writing the truth, but would I have been inclined to sugarcoat the review a bit after being treated rather royally? It's possible. Food writers are human after all, even the reviewer in probably my favorite film of all time: Ratatouille. With that said, I believe that most food writers have the strong desire to make sure that people don't pay their hard-earned money on something that isn't worth it. I always give my reviews the acid test: would I pay money to eat there? Am I telling the truth? At the end of the day, if I don't like something, I will definitely say so as money is hard to come by and I don't want people who read my reviews to waste their money or time.
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