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How to Write a Great Restaurant Review

I teach creative writing and love helping my students improve their technique.

A smartphone picture of the meal adds color to online reviews.

A smartphone picture of the meal adds color to online reviews.

What Is a Restaurant Review?

A good review combines facts (price, menu choices, location,) with personal experience (service received, ease of booking, ambience.) A restaurant review can be of a sit-down meal, a takeaway, or a delivered foodie experience. It doesn’t matter whether you’re an enthusiastic party-goer, a business expense diner, or a grab-a-quick-snack type of eater, your views on food, and the service you receive can make an interesting read.

The internet is full of restaurant reviews. They may be short comments on a review site, or a longer informative article on a blog or newspaper website. Each reviewer develops their own style, but both satisfied and disgruntled customers have views that are of interest to other people. Check out the writing competition by searching for reviews of your favorite local eatery. Your review needs to be more informative and eye-catching than these. A good review is subjective. It's written in an interesting and engaging manner and helps the person reading it to decide whether or not to visit the food outlet themselves. A good reviewer can become an influential driver of sales.

Photos Add Value to Your Review

How do you decide where to eat out? The food? The décor? The price? Probably a bit of all of them. Make the wrong choice and you ruin a potentially great evening out. Would you like to warn others about that dreadful meal you had? Or spread the good news about the superb new chef that’s just hit town? It’s easy now via the internet; here are some tips on how to get your reviews read. (And maybe even a free meal or two along the way.)

Even if you’re a great writer, a few well-chosen images will make your review come alive for your readers. I use the Memory Bite app to take a few photos before I start eating and to make notes on during my visit. Modern smartphone cameras produce good quality images that can be uploaded with your online review. In my view, food should look enticing as well as taste good, and your readers will appreciate seeing what your meal looked like.

The Memory Bite app makes it easy to keep a record of your meal,

The Memory Bite app makes it easy to keep a record of your meal,

How Do You Start and End Your Review?

  1. Think of your review as a short story.
  2. Set the scene by introducing your characters; the restaurant, and its staff.
  3. The first sentence should hook your reader, so make it dramatic.
  4. Give your opinion; write in an interesting and engaging manner.
  5. Round off the article with your conclusion; would you recommend the restaurant or not.

Give Praise Where It’s Due

Service levels and cleanliness of the premises are two aspects to eating out that are important to most people. So, write about your experience of the service.

  • Were the staff helpful? Friendly? Did they go the extra mile?
  • Was the food service quick?
  • Were the dishes freshly cooked or did they seem to be reheated?
  • What about the bathrooms? Were they still hygienic at the end of the evening?
  • If you had any issues during your meal, were they resolved satisfactorily? Describe what happened and give praise where due.

Think about the kind of things you want to know before booking a restaurant table.

  • What kind of clientele does the business serve?
  • Write about the atmosphere of the restaurant. Is it quiet or noisy? Family-friendly or adults only?
  • Does the restaurant expect casual or formal dress?
  • What are your views on the menus? Do you look for full fat or fat-free? Carnivore or vegan?
  • What price range does the restaurant offer? Are there any off-peak specials?

These are just a few pointers of the kind of subjects to cover in your review, but remember to add your opinion along with the factual information.

Post Online Reviews to Up Your Game

If you have an internet presence, either professionally (like LinkedIn) or a website that you need to promote, review writing is a useful tool. An article written by you will get you noticed. You can write a decent review in any spare moments you have. This could be while you sit in the dentist’s waiting room, as you travel or during that annoying wait for a delayed train. With a little effort you can up your game and get your name in front of a wider audience. Will Write For Food is a great guide to the do’s and don’ts of producing a top-notch review. It’s a handy reference book that every food writer should own.

How to Write a Good Restaurant Review

Include Both Opinion and Facts

A well written review presents facts and opinions in an interesting and engaging manner. The article should be an extension of your personality. Your reader wants more than just bare facts. They can get information like opening hours, and distance from the town center from the restaurant’s own website. They are more interested in what happened when you asked if there were any vegetarian options, or if your check was correctly calculated. How did the staff react? Were they polite and were they able to resolve any mistakes?

You may be tempted to dismiss the idea of writing reviews online because not many authors receive direct payment for posting them. This is a short-sighted in my opinion as there are non-monetary rewards from this type of writing. Instead of earning money directly from posting a review, your short article or blog post can help raise your internet profile. They help build your reputation as a credible writer. You may be able to earn a few pennies using affiliate links in the text. An engaging and interesting review can persuade a reader to click on a link and make an immediate purchase. You will earn a commission from any sales made in this way.

Online Restaurant Critics Are Ten-a-Penny

Anyone can share their views online, but the comments aren’t always worth reading. Many reviews are badly written and will never gain a following. But if you write in an interesting and informative way, and attract an audience, you can influence where people choose to eat. Critics that achieve this goal may be approached by restaurant owners to write a review. A well written review provides valuable feedback for a restaurateur. A good review presents a fair account of the actual eating experience. In return for a balanced insight of the service received you may be offered a free or subsidized meal by the business owner.

First impressions count. Tell your readers about the decor and layout of the restaurant.

First impressions count. Tell your readers about the decor and layout of the restaurant.

Which Are the Best Websites for Online Restaurant Reviews?

It’s difficult to recommend a good site for reviews. The best site for your writing depends on your location, the type of restaurant reviewed, and who your target audience is. For example, you want to review a restaurant you visited overseas while on holiday. Your target audience is other international tourists because you want to highlight some amusing mistranslations you found on the menu. A site like TripAdvisor would be suitable in this case. Or, you may be a local reviewing the same restaurant, but you want mainly neighbors to read your review. For this scenario, you could submit your critique to a local events listings website.

If you have your own blog or website, you would write in a style you know resonates with your readers. You could also write a restaurant review as a longer article for a more general website like WanderWisdom. The best advice I can give is to try out different online platforms until you find a niche that suits your style of writing and desired target readership. In a recent Google survey, 67% of people said online reviews impact their purchasing decisions. Writing a restaurant review is a responsibility, so choose your words carefully.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

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