There are tons of
sources on the internet and in print for restaurant reviews.
Professional food critics make big bucks, small newspapers often hire
freelance food reviewers, there are user generated food review sites
like Zagat (the original user generated book of amateur foodies) and Chow.com
(one of the first big amateur food review sites and forums), as well as
countless blogs, independent papers and websites, online city guides
and iPhone apps devoted to food and restaurants. Many of
them use some sort of standardized criteria or rating system that
includes thoughts or values ascribed to the quality of the food, the sprightliness of the service and the beauty or appropriateness of the decor.
In previous posts, I've created a methodologies for reviewing products (including websites) and cookbooks, so I'd like to do the same for restaurants:
The Food - Obviously the most important one - it's why we go to
restaurants and I personally am willing to forgive any of the following
criteria if the food is tasty enough.
2. Eco-ness - There are tons of publications, blogs and personalities talking about local and sustainable agriculture these days, and rightly so. Many restaurants have taken the lead in showing consumers what can be done with a seasonal menu that is locally sourced and in many cases organically grown. I think this is an important criteria and one that I look for when I eat out.
3. User Friendliness - Most restaurants don't think of their customers as being 'users' (many restaurants don't think about their customers, period) but they should. When I enter a restaurant space I want to feel reassured and like I can accomplish what I am there to do. This could include everything from decor and furnishings to menu design to service and ambiance.
4. Value - This won't only be about cost, but also about how a restaurant makes you feel about the money you spent. Was it really worth it? If given a choice, would you spend that money in the same way again?
The first restaurant I'd like to apply my new methodology to is T.J. Buckley's, a lovely little restaurant in Brattleboro, VT.