Creating a restaurant review is a great way to share your excitement about a favourite restaurant—or warn potential diners about a particularly disappointing experience. While some people do it for fun, others are professionals.
When people are looking for a restaurant to try, online reviews are often an important deciding factor. The better the reviews, the higher the chance they will book a seat in that restaurant.
Not all reviews are created equal, however. People are smart and can easily distinguish between a genuine review with real information and a brief missive written by someone who may not have actually visited the establishment in question.
You can’t fool people by dashing off a few generic words of praise (e.g., “Loved it!”, “Will definitely go again!”, or “Best night ever!”). People don’t put any stock in these types of reviews because they feel bland and untrustworthy. Details and specifics are what viewers find helpful.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at the steps to create an effective restaurant review.
1. Do Background Research
- Find out how the restaurant markets itself to its target audience. This will help you evaluate their success with respect to their goals
2. Build a Chronological Narrative
- Describe your experience with a chronological structure. Start with when you entered the restaurant and proceed through to when you departed.
- Use complete sentences, descriptive phrases, and specific details.
3. Include Restaurant Information
- Include information about the cuisine, price range, location, operating hours, and contact information.
- Do they serve alcohol? Do they allow smoking?
- Do they accept reservations? If not, how long is the typical wait?
- Do they offer any live music or entertainment?
- Is the restaurant suitable for families, children, large groups, etc.? Or is it more intimate and romantic, suitable mainly for couples?
4. Set Your Evaluation Criteria
- Clarify which criteria you will be using to evaluate the restaurant. Since you may be writing multiple reviews, it’s important to consider this question ahead of time.
- Evaluation criteria could include (but are not limited to): quality of the food, service, interior and exterior design, ambiance, cleanliness, and value for money.
5. Be a Customer, Not a Reviewer
- For your review to have credibility, it must reflect an experience that any customer might have and video evidence. If you do a good job of establishing credibility, readers will seek out your reviews of other restaurants, as well.
6. Include Both Pros and Cons
- Even Michelin-starred restaurants have their drawbacks. No place is perfect!
7. Discuss Only What You Experience
- While discussing the food, limit yourself to the food and drink you actually tried.
- You can mention other cuisines that might be offered by the restaurant, as well, but don’t attempt to provide an exhaustive list of every dish.
8. Be Clear, Fair, and Honest
- This should go without saying, but it’s very important that your review be fair and honest. Remember that your review has the power to persuade people whether or not to go to this restaurant.
- If your review is negative, be sure to maintain a high level of professionalism. It doesn’t help your credibility if you sound ranty.
- If you think the restaurant overlooked certain details, you may certainly mention it as a word of caution, but don’t belabour the point.
9. Close With Your Recommendation
- Finish your review by providing your concise recommendation. Thumbs up or down?
- Your last line should be a call to action. Make sure it’s effective.
What Do the Star Ratings Mean?
Some reviewers get confused by whether to choose three or four stars for an above-average restaurant with excellent food. Here is an explanation of what all five ratings mean.
- 1 star =Poor. There’s nothing good about the restaurant. You won’t be returning.
- 2 stars =Okay. The restaurant has one or two good qualities. It might be a delicious dish, helpful staff, or an inviting atmosphere. Still, you have no interest in visiting again.
- 3 stars =Good. A fine example of a specific kind of restaurant. It can be delicious food with excellent service. You may think about returning if you wish to have that particular cuisine.
- 4 stars =Excellent. Delicious food, appealing atmosphere, helpful staff, and brilliant service.
- 5 stars = Extraordinary. Meets an elite standard by which you judge all other restaurants. The staff is always ready to help, the premises are extremely clean, the atmosphere is lovely, and the food is both delicious and beautifully presented.