Guest Post By: Joel Wandimi
My first attempt at conducting a restaurant review involved gathering my mates, ordering a wide array of items on the menu and bingeing to taste bud numbness. Needless to say, the subtleties of the experience were lost in the feasting and the star-rating was not accurate.
I have since learned that a committed critic must have a long checklist and stick to it. This checklist is all one needs to produce an unbiased review. Two or more visits to the same restaurant are important. It is only then you can really know that the rain or increase in parking fees had nothing to do with the three stars you gave the last restaurant.
My checklist comprises of 12 crucial stages.
The receptionist’s attitude foreshadows what you may experience later. How does he/she treat you over the phone? When you ask the receptionist for a reservation, do they interrupt you or do they listen and attempt to work with your schedule?
At the Door
How do they greet you?
How long do you have to wait before you are led to your reserved table?
The restaurant should offer you a drink if you have to wait for 15 to 30 minutes.
Does the host(ess) escort you to your table or pace ahead as you play catch up?
After sitting down
Does the waiter greet you promptly; seem happy that you’re there; maintain a genial tone or 3tel you the specials before you catch your breath?
Are you accorded enough time to skim through the menu or does the waiter rush you for your order?
How do you feel, has the waiter already driven you into a bad mood. Will the service (good or bad) affect your attitude towards the food?
Has your attitude been swayed by that of your dining companions?
Are you paying close attention to the food or the conversations that you’re having with your mates?
Looking around you
Take time and look around the room before asking yourself: does everyone look like they are having a good time with the food and ambience?
Are the food presentations consistent throughout all the tables?
Is the place too warm/ cold?
Are the waiters/ waitresses well-groomed and neat?
Does he interrupt your dining with replacement of plates and utensils in between courses?
Does he match the plates to the right person?
Does he perform his role unobtrusively?
Are there delays in the kitchen? Does the waiter communicate what is happening?
Does he listen and respond accordingly to complaints?
Can you read the type easily?
Do the descriptions on the menu translate accurately to the food on the plate?
Do the categories of food seem well-balanced?
Are the prices commensurate to the level of service and surroundings?
The Wine List
Is the wine list logically arranged?
Is the type legible?
Does the wine auger well with the food?
Are the prices reasonable?
Does the list consider the teetotaler?
Is the wine selection agreeable to the theme of the restaurant?
When the food arrives?
Are the plates consistent?
Is the presentation visually appealing? Is there an attempt to make it so?
Is the food properly cooked? (Do the sauces have the right viscosity? Or are they curdled-up?)
What are your sentiments after the first bite?
Are the flavors balanced?
Are the flavors integrated and bright? (No dish should be flat or insipid even after long cooking).
How does the dish compare to similar dishes you have had in other restaurants?
Is the food exciting? Is it mediocre?
Is the food quality commensurate with the price?
Analysis of the ambience
Is there attention to detail in the interior fashioning?
What is the overall smell? Is it the smell of food, furniture, etc?
Ergonomics: Are the seats comfortable? Do they strike the right balance between form and function?
Is the general look of the table, napkins, seasonings, menu type etc- consistent with the prices column?
Are the bathrooms comfortable and clean?
As you leave
What is your overall feel of the evening?
What is outstanding as a strong point or weak point of the restaurant?
Does the restaurant live up to its billing?
Would you go back? Would you recommend someone else to visit?
After your third visit
Are you still drawn to go back a fourth time?
Was the service and food consistent?
Is there a pattern?
Are you confident with your evaluation?
Congratulations! You are now ready to write your restaurant review
Featured image / via http://www.aubergedusoleil.com/