Monday, 6 February 2012

How not to write a restaurant review

I am addicted to reading restaurant reviews. Bad ones, good ones, mediocre ones and everything in between. Some of them, however, really irk me as they include unneccessary detail or are simply dull. These are some of my pet peeves in restaurant reviews:

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The constant 6-8/10
How utterly dull. MOST places I actually eat in annoy me about something. There simply cannot be this amount of tediously 'ok' places and even if there were, why write about them anyway? A bit like X factor, I think most people want to hear about two types, the utterly brilliant, and the utterly shite. Go on, put your head on the block and say something controversial.

Naming their dining companion
“I came with my friend, Emily.” What's that all about? Even worse to refer to their vommy partner with some pseudo nickname either. And continue to refer to them as such throughout the meal. Like anyone really gives a shit? And name-dropping your famous dining partner, don't get me started (of course, that’s sadly what a lot of people are interested in).

Too much detail.
“We were shown to our table. I asked, ‘Where are the toilets?’ the waiter said ‘Over there.’” We don’t need to know EVERYTHING. This kind of thing is unsurprisingly taken for granted, given that you are in a restaurant. We’ll assume you were shown to your table and offered a drink, etc. It’s boring and no-one cares – we want to know what the food was like and if the wait staff were rude!

Sheep-like behaviour
So Fay's been and found the soup rather underwhelming? Well quelle surprise, so do you too. For fear of not knowing what they’re talking about, some reviewers will re-hash the last 6 reviews they’ve just read. And yes, it is obvious. Counting these sheep definitely sends me to sleep. Say something different or you might as well hand out photocopies of other people’s reviews.

Arse Licking
Gushing overly about the place like a starstruck fan because the owner or chef (who you mention by their first name, your oh-so-close pal) is someone in the current blogger's cool club or particularly influential or famous. It just makes them look like a bit of a desperate idiot.


  1. Hi Melissa
    Agree with most of your points, and am sure I'm guilty of committing some of the cardinal 'sins' you list. Not sure I agree with your first criticism, though. Most places are just 'fine': people often want to know what the star dish is, and what to avoid. Isn't your review of Rosalind's Kitchen just one of those? 'rather nice', 'small criticism', not 'too bad' ;-)...

  2. haha :) I'm with Laura, certainly guilty of some of your sins. The problem is that most restaurant are just ok, there are few outstanding ones and some more utterly bad ones. My blog would probably have about 1 post a month if I just wrote about those...

  3. Hi, thanks for your comments. The point I was trying to make was that reviews often come across as boring when there's no obvious leaning to whether something is amazing or bad. My Rosalind's Kitchen review has a small criticism but otherwise was really positive, I thought!

    But I totally get where you're coming from - some restaurants are just average, but I suppose I was more talking about what I read in the paper - in there, where they're paid to do it, I'd rather read about one or the other extreme!

  4. I'm not sure I agree with not naming your dining companion. I'd much rather read a review with a name, I don't need to know anything about the person whatsoever, than the constant use of "my dining companion ordered so-and-so, my dining companion's so-and-so was beautifully cooked" and, as you point out, the twee nicknames are annoying and using just an initial makes it seem as though the identity is some secret. I've struggled with this, and am probably not very consistent about it, but find it's easiest for me when I just use a friend's name. It flows more naturally for me. Since we tend to dine with friends, so let's just say it like it is?


  5. Hmmm...totally agree that don't want lots of boring superfluous information and, yes, what's the point of reviewing somewhere that you thought was ok...very dull unless everyone else has been raving about it and suddenly that ok is contextualised. Also hate it when it's more about the reviewer than the restaurant. I haven't read your review to hear your life story! But agree with Kavey...sometimes you do have to name your dining companion...especially if there's a decent size group. How many times can you say one dining companion had this, the other had this etc. without being really confusing. As for nicknames, well, it's not just random people who read reviews and sometimes we don't want our friends, girlfriends, wives etc. knowing who we went out for supper with last night :-)



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