Writing Restaurant Reviews: Observe The Details


by Catherine L. Tully

When I read restaurant reviews, I look for two things…information about the menu, and a description of the atmosphere of the place. Both details are important. Many reviews focus on the food to the exclusion of the surroundings, and I would argue that this is the sign of an amateur. To write a good restaurant review, you will want to capture a sense of place in addition to communicating about the food. Check out these tips for help:

+ Use words that follow the adage, “show, don’t tell”.

Compare the atmosphere to other places. For example, a restaurant with a whimsical theme may make you think of an amusement park. Stretch your brain. Don’t just go with the easy way out and choose the first thing that comes to mind. Study the place.

+ Reserve time for observing. Don’t try to figure out what you want to say about the decor and ambiance while you are eating the main course. When the food is there, concentrate on that. Take time between courses, linger over coffee or come back another time to concentrate on that alone.

Remember that service is part of the atmosphere. This can actually be its own category, but the two go hand-in-hand.

+ Look at the outside too. Sometimes there is an appeal to the outside that is worth mentioning to the reader. In addition, if there is outdoor seating, that is something you will want to include in the review.

+ Practice. Think like a reviewer when you go out to eat. Observe details. Write practice reviews. It helps.