Also see Society of Wiki Restaurant Reviewers.
Let's start with the good review — it's a lot easier. Go for it, gush and celebrate! What did you like? Specific comments can help other people decide whether it's a place they want to try or not. Was it the food itself that made you happy? The way it's cooked, the ingredients or freshness, maybe variety? Whatever it is, just be sure to mention if any personal preferences helped decide your review. Maybe you loved the service or the atmosphere. How about good prices or large portions of food? Delectable desserts? It's a nice gesture to recommend any specific dishes that caught your eye.
Now for the harder review — a negative one. There can be a lot of potential reasons you want to share a negative experience. Maybe the service and restaurant quality and practices were subpar, or even unethical. More commonly, it's something about the food that lets people down, whether it be the freshness, the ingredients and flavor of the meal, the price, or even authenticity. You've had a lousy time, you feel that your money was wasted, and/or you weren't respected. Maybe you even feel violated or sick. Take a deep breath, first; a self-composed frame of reference is the least biased. Second, you will want to share your negative experience, but you want to try to do it effectively — so others can take heed!
- First off — is there a specific threat to public health? Did you get physically sick from potential food poisoning? Were you disgusted by verifiable, unsanitary conditions? Don't just post it here, please call Yolo County Public Health at (530) 666-8646!
- Is there something specific about your complaint? Take the timing of your visit into account. Let's say "the milkshake machine was broken" when you went. If some other Wikian visits the establishment, they may decide the issue is resolved and either add their own note or, more likely, edit yours. In other words, don't assume that your particular experience is generally representative.
- Even a negative review can be a hassle if a place shapes up. If you hated the service and documented it, when do you think your review should be removed? Are you going to ever go back and determine whether they fixed the problem or fired a particular, disagreeable member of the waitstaff? Remember to take the timing of your original experience into account. Practices, management, employees — they all can and do change. Maybe the service was horrendous this month, but in three years the comment you left may not be so fair (or even applicable) to the establishment. Eventually, comments will be removed as new reviewers feel they're overly dated or unrepresentative.
- Maybe your comment is due to some personal preferences. It's fine to comment, but it would be good to note why. "I prefer my apples cut into sections, but this place cuts them into wedges for the salad." Well, not everyone else likes stuff the same way you do. How do ya like them apples?
- Don't be a Debbie Downer. If you never have anything nice to say, people may take that into account and tend to ignore your review(s). Take the time to avoid overly biased reviews, and if you find that you're generally negative, try writing some positive reviews! Your perspective in either case will be (most likely) appreciated.
- It's easy to be just another head in a crowd. If you use a pseudonym or fake name, people may factor that into the potential validity of your account and not take you as seriously.
- Spell and grammar check your review before posting. Poorly constructed reviews will often be taken less seriously. Errors will reflect your level of intellect and provide ammo to people who disagree with you.
- Turn your CapLock off. Reading a post written in all caps is not only annoying, it often flags your review as trollish.
- Add your own suggestions for improvement . . .
The Society of Wiki Restaurant Reviewers hold higher standards and are considered experts in the art of restaurant review. They recommend you write some or all of the review while still at the restaurant, while it's fresh in your mind. That way, you can check on details right then. Above all, be as honest, accurate, and objective as you possibly can. Things they recommend you to note and think about to reach their level...
- Get down the address, hours, phone, prices, day and time of day, web site (ask if you're not sure)
- How many people were there? (Mostly full, three people, packed with how long of a wait time, etc)
- Is food properly hot or cold?
- Is it watered down?
- Did it seem fresh?
- Anything unusual?
- Did they pay attention to aesthetics (color, layout, etc.)?
- What were the prices? were the prices commensurate with the expected quality/quantity?
- Were they helpful?
- Did they rush you?
- Did they deliver the food to the right people?
- Were they knowledgeable?
- Was the gazpacho hot and the fajita cold?
- Was the fly in the soup flavorless? (pardon the humor — but you catch my drift)
- For buffets: How many items were there? Were items labeled?
- Anything else noteworthy?
Thanks, Edwin, for pointing out that the SWRR are "considered experts (cough, cough) in the art of restaurant review". I can't begin (really) to tell you how much hard work, study, and practice goes into preparation for the discipline (ahem). You are accordingly recognized as being of Superior Taste for your astute observation. —SWRR
2005-11-05 09:30:57 great page, should be useful when we get around to reviewing restaurants weekly. —AlexNorris
2005-11-12 10:08:05 Someone with the appropriate software should make a 4-up PDF of restaurant review cards. —ArlenAbraham
2005-11-23 12:03:52 but hide the cards lest the restaurant notice and be extra nice for a good review —MarieHuynh
2014-07-05 00:20:14 This is very helpful. I am trying to create reviews for the prices only and environ. I have no budget for ordering. —baloydilloydi