Things to Avoid When Writing Restaurant Reviews
When we review restaurants, we all want to emulate the successful restaurant critics who have continued to command the attention of the food industry. As Estanbul Café explained in a previous post, this isn’t all too hard to do, so long as you make sure to paint a full picture for your readers. Unfortunately, when doing so, it’s also easy to commit some common errors. The most important thing to remember, of course, is to…
Avoid Sounding Like Someone Else
There’s a big community of food critics out there, and thousands upon thousands of restaurant reviews. Sadly, when you read through them, you might find that they sound alike! Whether it’s phrases being repeatedly used to describe something, or an analogy that critics prefer to use, there are certain elements that seem to be omnipresent in a review. If you want to find out if any of your reviews sound like someone else, or sound “stereotypical”, you can do as the Washington Post did and try a quick bingo game.
Bingo games nowadays are a far cry from what you may remember, and they give players a lot more versatility with a variety of themed games to play – a fact that Betfair’s Director of Gaming Operations, Liam Wallwork, says is crucial to their growth. That’s why you might not recognize the Washington Post’s New York Times D.C. Dining Bingo game.
As you can see, the bingo card pokes fun at the many phrases often used by the people writing restaurant reviews for the New York Times. These repetitive phrases often lose their meaning because they’re used to often, and by crossing off all the phrases used by a certain review, one can easily tell when the review has anything new to say, or is just another version of the reviews already written about a restaurant.
You could do the same thing, reading some reviews and trying to find out what phrases they often use, and creating your own bingo card. You can either use this card to test the uniqueness of others’ reviews, or use them to examine your own to make sure that your own reviews aren’t all written with someone else’s words. However, it might be best to…
Avoid Reading too Many Reviews Before Visiting a Restaurant
We can’t help it. We want to find out as much about a new restaurant before we visit it. Surveys have shown that while many of us ask friends for opinions on restaurants, many still do additional research and look for supplementary information through review sites and the like. It’s a great practice in theory, but if you’re planning to review a restaurant, it’s always best to go in without any preconceived notions of what the service and the food will be like.
Many of us will go into restaurants expecting to experience the same thing as other diners have experienced, and this can actually affect our reviews in more ways than we might realize. This may explain why studies discussed by Forbes showed that online reviews didn’t actually have that big an impact on whether or not diners visit a new restaurant. Instead, they impact what diners expect from the service, and this affects whether or not they’re satisfied with the experience as well.
But when you’re going in blind and doing your best to paint a full picture of the restaurant for your readers, you might end up falling into another pitfall…
Avoid Veering Away from the Restaurant
It’s understandable to want to provide your readers with every single detail, from the décor of the restaurant to the way the servers were dressed. But still, it’s important to remember to stay professional. Studies by a team of researchers from Georgia Tech showed that reviews are affected not just by the elements that make up a restaurant, such as price range, server attitude and décor, but also by external factors such as demographics, and even the weather. You could very well lose your voice if you unwittingly allow these things to affect your review.
In this sense, it’s important to remember one of the most important rules for reviewing restaurants: stick to the most important details. These are, after all, what your readers will be looking for. Discuss the quality of the food, the value you get for your money, and the ambience of the place, and make sure that you spare no detail when it comes to these things. After all, if you maintain a good social media presence, your readers should have no trouble approaching you with questions about the restaurant, and this is when you can get down and personal with the review.