Writing A Restaurant Review

What qualifies someone to review a restaurant? Well, in my opinion anyone who eats at an establishment and pays for the meal can review the experience. This review would therefore be totally independent. There are many places that restaurants are reviewed and I often read TripAdvisor when looking for a restaurant. I know that the reviews can be skewed but I take an overall impression to see whether we should eat there or not. I also read based on my expectations, and not the expectations of the person eating there. For example, a person might complain that a restaurant does not cater for children, but for us that is a plus.

"The Kitchin'
The Kitchin

I love sharing my experiences through my blog and I am sure my reviews are more than qualified. I spent eight years working professionally in restaurants and I have self published a recipe book. Further I consider myself an accomplished cook and I have high expectations. I know what tastes good (to me) and I know what works and what does not. I can understand how service should be and what to expect from timing in a restaurant.

"The Wine"
The Wine

But what I think most qualifies me to share my experiences is the fact that I have eaten at top restaurants since I was a young child. I have been exposed to top chefs and top restaurants all over the world. My earliest memory is eating at Gatrilles in Johannesburg and I have relocated my passion for their food by eating often at 96 Winery Road. I love the restaurant at Waterkloof and I am prepared to pay the premium to eat at a decent restaurant.

"96 Winery Road"
96 Winery Road

I prefer to review here on my blog and found the experience of reviewing for a magazine quite challenging. Your words are restricted and there is always the possibility of editorial conflict. A restaurant I rate highly may not be the favourite of the editor, and a restaurant I did not enjoy might have too high a ranking to receive a negative review.

"Welcome To Waterkloof"
Welcome To Waterkloof

When blogging about a restaurant one of the most important issues is to let your reader know if you were an invited guest. If you were, you might have received extra ordinary service and attention. I also feel that the review should be based on your own personal experience of the restaurant. List the good with the bad and be fair and honest in your review.

"The Tilted Wig"
The Tilted Wig

Let your readers know how they can contact the restaurant and give them as much information as possible to make a realistic choice as to whether they should eat there or not. My style of reviewing is constantly evolving. I leave reviews up even if the restaurant has closed or changed hands, and I try and update the reviews when I can if we have been back to a restaurant.

"Pomegranate Restaurant"
Pomegranate Restaurant

What to you is the most important facet of reading a restaurant review that influences your decision to eat there or not?

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30 thoughts on “Writing A Restaurant Review

  1. I agree with you about who should qualify in writing a review. In reply to your question: for me, if the restaurant is child friendly then I might visit. It also depends on who is with of course.

  2. I love reading your restaurant reviews on your blog. For me, service and quality (and variety) of food on the menu is a big turning factor when choosing a restaurant. Atmosphere plays a role too, because if you’re going to spend money on a meal out, you want to enjoy the whole experience. No use eating delicious food when your table is right on top of someone else’s or with fading or unattractive decor.

  3. I totally agree on all that you said, especially the one that paid as having the right to review :). As a food blogger, I am also with you in stating that we have to be as honest and as transparent as we can for our readers. Great article, Tandy!

    Gourmet Getaways

  4. Price, quality of food and service. If enough people raves about the quality of the food, price might become a smaller factor.

  5. i think a good attidute is a must, we must be appreciate about the effort behind the plate scenenery,
    i just hate some foolish reviewer who couldn’t boil water without getting burn write shitty thing about the thing she/he didn’t understand.
    one of my professor in dental school ever made a review about steak tartare in upscale dinning restaurant and said it’s yucky and disguisting, after that he ask the waiter to sear the chopped seak tartare (LOL)
    the question is why would he order for steak tartare for the first time, he simply didn’t know about it and not even bother to ask the waitress or not even reading the menu book explanation

  6. Excellent pointers. I often go out of curiosity if the restaurant is getting a lot of press, to find out if it’s justified. Food quality is vitally important to me: I want to experience exceptional quality – I can eat mediocre food at home, after all. Bad service and they’ll never see me on their doorstep again.

  7. hi tandy
    i think service is the most important thing for me. i can put up with mediocre food as long as the service is spot on. of course great food is important too but i find great service is the biggest issue for me.

  8. What an interesting post! I love reading Trip Advisor for not only restaurant reviews but also museums, hotels whatever. I value those opinions. We never go out to eat with the kids or if we do, it’s a designated kid restaurant, dining with small children in public is NOT fun.

    I love to read reviews that are honest and straighfoward and so I enjoy yours. They’ll real not “bought”.

    1. Thank you for the comment Laura. We have used trip advisor for hotels and I shall remember to look for when we go to museums. I am so grateful our children no longer need to be taken to kid friendly places 🙂

  9. HI Tandy, great post. For me it’s the whole experience. My first time when trying to a new place is to order the dish they are know for. We always like to try at least 1 appetizer a couple of mains and at least 1 dessert. Service is always a big factor and if something is not right then how they take care of it is important. Although most times we don’t say a word and will likely not be returning to that restaurant again.

  10. Awesome post Tandy! As a qualified chef it can be annoying to hear what Jo blows uneducated palate and thoughts are, but I, like you think anyone that has dined and paid for the meal is entitled to review it too.
    I dont really read the restaurant reviews, mostly because I work in the industry and have a pretty good idea as to what’s trending and stuff, but I like to know the portion sizes, the value for moula and if the kids are welcome, I generally dont visit. Again, thanks for a tops post, I enjoyed muchly. 🙂

  11. Great tips Tandy. Personally, I don’t think people who consider going to Spur as “eating out” should write reviews. If you expect that your kids should be allowed to run amok and wonder where the colouring in pages are then you must rather go to a franchise. That said, I am a parent who parents which means my kids have been taught how to behave in public. We are slowly starting to venture into the more relaxed fine dining places and it’s nice to not be subjected to Spur anymore. 🙂 xx

  12. Tandy – I enjoyed your piece. It’s true that with many people now eating out on a regular basis, they have a depth of experience that only professional reviewers may have had 20 years ago. Food is very important but it’s almost impossible to get a bad meal in Australia (and no doubt Sth Africa) these days so the service and ambience aspect is equally important to me and this is the most likely aspect where they will fail in my opinion. Cheers xx

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