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May 7, 2009 02:18 PM

What factors into your CH restaurant reviews

When you eat out at a restaurant and decide to write about that experience - what factors into the appraisal you will write?

Is is strictly about the food, or is dining out an "experience" including not only food, but service, surroundings, ambiance and style (fine v casual), cleanliness, price to value, etc. Will you break down those individual components or generalize all into one generic assessment?

For me, it's certainly heavily weighted on the food - first and foremost - but it's also an overall experience; so I tend to break the other categories down, particularly if there is something notable (good or bad), or for that matter, little known that may be of aid to another reader.

I know that many are more purist to the literal term "Chowhound", writing only about the food. I just wondered how others view a review - when reading or writing.

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  1. I include the whole experience. If the parking valet was exceptionally nasty or the bathroom was freezing or hadn't been cleaned all day, it all adds up to the dining experience.

    1. Food is paramount, then service. I've eaten in some pretty divey places with questionable ambiance, but great food. As my husband likes to say, "You can't eat the walls."

      2 Replies
      1. re: pikawicca

        "As my husband likes to say, "You can't eat the walls."
        i like that! unfortunately, you *can* - and wouldn't want to - eat some of the things i've seen crawling on restaurant walls...


        1. re: pikawicca

          Ditto. And I will add that if a place is just ordinary, I probably won't write at all. But if a place is standout good or bad, I feel compelled to write.

        2. I can hardly remember a time in my life when I have received bad service. Oh, I hear other people's complaints, and for the most part they seem rather shallow.

          Often on the internet I will find negative reviews about a place, and especially the really negative ones are filled with such vitriol about tiny matters.

          So I rarely mention the service.

          1. For the effort to write a good review, it has to be about the food

            - texture
            - color
            - balance
            - seasoning/spices
            - execution

            If the food meets the criteria, then I'll add comments about service and ambiance. I'll go back to a place where the service is sinister and the place is a cement cube but never if the food is simply eh.

            And I'll never say it's good food for the value - it's good food that happens to be inexpensive.

            1. I have to say, I tend to fall back on the Zagat's Food, Decor, Service criteria. I would say (for me) it's weighted 60% food, 30% service and 10% decor. I can deal with a dive (as long as it is not a health risk) ....Great service may not make me like a place better (lousy food, amazing service) but really really bad service will make me DISlike a place more.