A couple of weeks ago, we talked about travel writing on the blog. What a great response we had!
Have you ever thought about writing restaurant critiques?
Does your local paper, town newsletter, or a local or regional magazine have a food or dining section? Do they feature restaurant critiques? Read numerous restaurant critiques so you are aware of the writing style and approximate word count.
Share this list with your fellow diners before going out to eat. You could even make up little cheat sheets on index cards for easy reference.
Name of restaurant, address
Party – # of people, 1st visit, 2nd visit
Who is dining?
Day, date, time
Breakfast, lunch, or dinner
Parking – ease, accessibility, pay/street/lot
Venue – downtown, suburban, mall, etc.
Greeting – host/hostess
Wait time – to be seated, get drinks, get food
Cleanliness – outside, entrance/foyer, dining area, bar, bathrooms
Wait staff – efficient, courteous, knowledge of menu, friendliness, grooming
Ambiance, décor, noise level, seating
Food – quantity, quality, presentation
Meals – type, portion, extras
Taste – bland, spicy
Value – amount vs. cost
Changes or special requests
Vegetarian, low calorie, WW, heart healthy
Owner/manager – did he/she stop by the table?
Desserts, prices, homemade or packaged
Cocktails, wine list, specialties
Credit cards accepted
Meals served, hours, for breakfast, lunch, and dinner
Daily specials – breakfast, lunch, dinner
Take-out available, full menu
Meal choice, cost (each diner gets something different)
What to use in the restaurant critique
Not all this information needs to be used in a written restaurant critique, but give prospective diners (critique readers) enough information so they can decide if this is a place they’d like to try.
Psst! Keep the secret
And key! Don’t tell the host/hostess or your servers why you are there. Do not discuss this dinner meeting with anyone who owns, manages, or works for the chosen restaurant. But do give them two chances if they fail miserably on your first visit.
Be on time
Participants will gather at a designated meeting place or at the venue at a pre-arranged day, date, and time.
It is now quite common to see diners taking photos. Be sure to take clear photos of meals, drinks, and desserts as they arrive at the table.
You’re going out to dinner anyway. Participants pay for their own meals plus a fair share of the tip. If the written article sells and is published for payment, the critic can reimburse the secret diner in full for the cost of the meal plus tip.
Have you ever done any food writing or restaurant critiques?
What other checklist items would you add?