Reviews that don't mention food [General]

2009 Aug 23
Can you seriously review a restaurant you didn't even go in to?

2009 Aug 24
Rating the non-food elements of a restaurant is perfectly appropriate.

2009 Aug 24
This is Ottawa Foodies, not Ottawa Architecture or Ottawa Interior Designs or Ottawa Curb Appeal. If that were the case, then why don't we just go up and down Somerset slagging all the restaurants for having crappy fronts. In my experience, a lot of my best dining experiences I've had have been in dives, or little mom and pop stores who don't necessarily have the time or money to make their store look the "best". It's ignorant to not try a restaurant because you don't like the facade or the interior.

-end rant.

2009 Aug 24
Gotta agree with Snoopy Loopy on this one... I read Bonvivant's "Review" waiting for the BUT...

BUT, it never came.

There are so many great eats in Ottawa that happen at places that have less than great exteriors, furnishings or set-ups. And there are certainly spots that have "all that" BUT don't deliver on the food.

Pleeeeease, tell me about the food... this is a Food Review Website... complete with the ifs, ands or buts.


Jagash - You are right - "Rating the non-food elements of a restaurant is perfectly appropriate." BUT within the context of the "whole" experience... and well this foodie experience just didn't have the main ingredient (the food).

2009 Aug 24
I also feel it is perfectly appropriate to rate the non-food elements of a place. I can think of a few places that have absolutely wonderful food, but I will not be quick to return because of the venue. Both for almost identical reasons as were listed here.

2009 Aug 24
I do not have any problem with rating the non-elements of food of a place... as you can see from the reviews, food is only 1 of 5 or so criteria on which I rate a restaurant. That being said... the rating of the non-elements of food of a place should be done in context of a full review of the restaurant as F&T pointed out... e.g. The food was great, but the ambiance and decor sucked and thus I will not be going back, as opposed to what was done, that is, I didn't like the look of the place... didn't go in.

2009 Aug 24
Fresh Foodie can you maybe move this to the forum? And then we can debate the various aspects of reviews there.

2009 Aug 25
I created this topic to capture the discussion about reviews that don't mention food in any way.

My personal view on comments is that if you haven't eaten the food yourself then I'm not really interested in your opinion of the vendor. While atmosphere is important to the overall experience, we are ultimately all about the food here.

2009 Aug 25
Well, there's a difference between atmosphere and accessibility. Accessibility (or lack thereof) being more in line with the original complaint, this is something (like atmosphere) which is more important to some diners than others, since it prohibits them from ever enjoying the food experience. Just thought I'd make a distinction between the two concepts here since there seems to be some confusion.

2009 Aug 25
Chimichimi, you bring up a good point, but the original post which spawned this forum makes no mention of accessibility, and makes what are essentially aesthetic comments that are provocative and not very objective. This is what they wrote:

"but the way the restaurant is laid out doesn't make you want to even go in. The tables are too close to each other and from outside, if you're lucky, you feel you're about to enter into an aquarium. Parked in front of it, on the side of it, any which way, we could never bring ourselves to go in and try the food. Get a real space..."

I've found lots of restaurants that have very creatively used some very limited space, and even some of which have done so while maintaining quite admirable accessibility. This poster might as well as said they didn't like the wallpaper, or choice of china pattern. As has been mentioned earlier, these comments would have been more palatable (although I personally think no less appropriate) if they had accompanied a food review. How many places are there in Ottawa that have great food, and a great experience, that someone could review not even by going inside, but by WALKING BY THE FRONT WINDOW, concluding they are not worthy of further attention. Such reviews are not a positive contribution to this website.

2009 Aug 25
I stand by my original comments :)

2009 Aug 25
BTW, if I step away from my own self-centered foodie perspective and think about this from the vendor's point of view, then I'd be very interested in learning why some potential customers are avoiding my restaurant. This is where the "Inappropriate" label becomes quite useful. The original comment is easily ignored by the casual restaurant-goer, but it's still available to those (like the vendor) who want to read any and all feedback.

2009 Aug 25
But like atmosphere, accessibility as you describe it is subjective as well. Or, at the very least, accessibility is one aspect of the atmosphere.

There is a distinct difference between "I can't eat here because I cannot get between the tables with my walker/wheelchair" and "Hm. It's a tight fit. We'll make do, but it'll be a touch uncomfortable". The former I would consider accessibility and the latter atmosphere, even though it deals with the design structure of the restaurant.

My problem with reviewing atmosphere on its own is the fact that, as many others have said, it is hard to judge atmosphere + even accessibility, until you've visited a place.


2009 Aug 25
I don't think it is the same as wallpaper PiO.

The two other places I'm thinking of are Siam Bistro, and Agave Grill. I was at both places exactly once. Food was spectacular in both cases, but I really have no desire to go back because in both cases I felt like a sardine. Even walking in to both places for the first time, my initial thought was "ug, should have checked the place out before making reservations". Luckily in the case of Agave we had booked the table right by the window. In the case of Siam, though, it was a terrible experience.

As FF correctly points out - the owners may want to have some of this feedback. Getting someone in the door is the biggest part of the equation IMO.

2009 Aug 25
This is a great topic! Zym, my comments are aimed most directly at the original post. The original post did not say that the owner had jammed tables together uncomfortably (which could happen in any place, large or small) The poster said (and I paraphrase) that the location is terrible, the view out the window is terrible, the dimensions of the restaurant are terrible (long and narrow), and there is no point in even walking in the door. I'm pretty sure, that most restaurateurs DO NOT want to see reviews that say there is no point in going until they move locations to somewhere else. Some criticism is constructive, some is not. Should we review all the places in Hintonberg and say it's not worth going to any of them because the local biker chapter house is too close, but they might be worth going to if they moved to the Glebe (bikers, or restaraunt)?

2009 Aug 25
the owners may want to have some of this feedback.

Absolutely. But I don't think it's feedback unless you've experienced it. It's simply griping IMO.

2009 Aug 25
I have to admit, there are restaurants that I wouldn't bother with because I don't like the set up. However, that is my personal choice and taste. I wouldn't bother writing a review about it as someone from a different culture, for example, may be quite fine and accustomed to such atmospheres.

I will, however, write reviews regarding food quality, service and include the general atmosphere as I feel dining is an experience in the whole. If the food or service was lousy- I feel the need to inform other diners so that people need not waste their money or their expectations. I trust my palette enough to be confident in my remarks. I also know where my personal tastes come into play and typically mention this in my reviews.

I have also been convinced to try places that I have judged on the basis of appearance and have been pleasantly surprised.

2009 Aug 25
Atmosphere is one part of dining, and some places seem (operative word) to have one that clashes with a particular diner's expectations or (quite valid) personal minimum in tastes. That's not even touching on accessibility (such as tables put together in a way that only stringbeans can navigate around them).

My personal problem with the initial review was this, emphasis mine:

"(...)but the way the restaurant is laid out doesn't make you want to even go in (...) from outside, if you're lucky, you feel you're about to enter into an aquarium (...) any which way, we could never bring ourselves (...)"

Reviewers are entitled to their opinions. They are not, however, entitled to my opinion. :) I wonder if this post might have rubbed fewer people the wrong way if it had been phrased in the singular.

2009 Aug 25
PiO - I have to say that I've perceived the original complaint differently than you, as they said the tables were too close together (this is neither aesthetic nor provocative IMHO, albeit subjective/relative based on your size & mobility) as you've kindly reminded me, it infers quite simply that the establishment was too tightly laid out to accomodate them.

For instance, I dine out with someone who's blind who has a guide dog. Now this requires an adequate amount of space for her to navigate around the dining room and for the dog to sit down next to us as we dine. Thanks to this review, I will likely steer clear of the establishment when deciding on a place to dine out with her, saving us a wasted trip to the restaurant.

2009 Aug 25
Thanks to this review, I will likely steer clear of the establishment when deciding on a place to dine out with her, saving us a wasted trip to the restaurant.

You could also be mising out on something great. If you, yourself, had never walked in front of the restaurant in question, you wouldn't know if they had a table with adequate accomodations at the front of the restaurant, or if patio dining was more spacious.

When my parents were in town in June, I made a point of calling the Gastropub to see if they had seating available on the first floor (which they did not for that evening). When we booked at Play, I asked to be on the first floor and if there was a more spacious table. Crisis averted--there was more than adequate space for my mother to come through with her walker and there was enough space left over to fold her walker up as well.

My problem with the review, is, as Niall said, that the reviewer feels that we should share her opinion (to put it nicely), but also that the book/restaurant is being judged by its cover. I don't walk down Wellington Street and then come back with storefront reviews of places I've never been to, because I believe that there are more than enough other people dining in these establishments and that my review of a storefront does not add anything.

2009 Aug 25
LWB - fair enough, some establishments make more of an effort to 'reasonably accomodate' their patrons, provided the patrons make the effort themselves.

2009 Aug 25
Niall - that is just an oddity of the English language where "you" has become impersonal. Same as how in German "They" has eventually become the polite way to address someone as "you". Yes, there is a most correct way to say it in English - use of "one". But that can also often sound awkward.

2009 Aug 25
Or you can use I, since it is a personal opinion... e.g. The decor didn't make me want to go in, or I found the tables too close together.

2009 Aug 25
Agreed, zymurgist, and as a bilingual with English as second language, I am acutely aware of the problems in writing clearly with or without the use of slang or spoken levels.

But a review is not impersonal - it's quite personal. :) The reviewer stated facts - tables close together, narrow inside space - that could help someone with mobility problems decide if it would be easy or more difficult to think about going. The feelings were all their own however. I know it's also a personal thing about me as to how I prefer certain review styles, and on which I will put more weight, same as how I read movie reviews; but the general feeling I had was one of harshness that spilled in my "personal space", souring me to the review as a whole at first glance. A re-read extracts the useful info from it easily enough.

I still think it's valid to state that the space/layout was off-putting enough to not make one want to go in, if it's one review among many others - such as this site offers. (It would be a piss-poor thing to have in a newspaper food review, for example.) Many voices, especially dissenting opinions, make for a better picture. I know I've made one review where I could easily see the location and decor off-putting people easily, but asked to see past that to the food itself. Yet, for some, décor is as important as the food, and they could not enjoy food served in a "dingy cave" (as it could very well be called by some).

2009 Aug 25
As already noted, I didn't find the remarks helpful... and I certainly didn't find them to be a "Review" as the Poster never even went in the door... if you are going to review something then the first aspect is you have to be involved and "present" in the experience... be that a Restaurant, Movie, Live Theatre, Book whatever.

I envisioned what it would be like if this type of comment were considered totally within the parameters, and became a common one-line posting technique (instead of the one-off here we are discussing). What if boiled down to its simplest form we saw a proliferation of posts that said things like...

"Didn't eat here... place has an ugly exterior"

"Can't eat here... Chef's first name is Robert... ex-husband was a Robert"

"Won't eat here... don't like ethnic food"

None of this type of stuff is helpful in my ability as a reader to come away with an understanding of what a place is about... how honestly after reading such comments would one know whether the place might be worth checking out or not? (Which lets face it is a huge function of the BUZZ Section... connecting us Foodies to Good Food).

2009 Aug 25
Review tends to be subjective, since it's based on one's experience and 5 senses, and it also depends on one's personality, what he or she appreciates and/or values most in dining experience.
Of course, food is the main focus for foodies' review, and that's what we all want to know and read about.
However, besides food review and rating, I personally appreciate some added info regarding establishment itself, especially about their hygiene standard...

I can write great review for a Chinese restaurant that I have tried before. Their dumplings were amazing. I have never had dumplings that good, at such a reasonable price. It was really great. I would recommend all the foodies to try this place.
After my dinner, I went to wash room. It was horrible, it was nightmare. It was so dirty. There was only one wash room in that building, and servers and cooks also use that washroom. I felt so sick.... had known the washroom was that dirty, I wouldn't have tried that restaurant, even they could make super dumplings. I know this site is not run by health canada...this is just me. Food hygiene is so important for me to enjoy meal.

I think there are so many elements to make a dining experience as whole...
not easy to say what is the way food review should be...

2009 Aug 25
I'd vote for a very simple rule - you have to have at least tried to walk in the front door of the restaurant. On the other hand I have no problem with Marc L. posting how ugly Atelier is :) - I think he's been inside once or twice. The original poster is very likely a "drive by" reviewer. Definitely started some discussion - lets see if they ever contribute again.

2009 Aug 25

The YOU Discussion - Ok, I agree with Niall, part of reason this post is off-putting is the use of YOU (if taken in the same sense as a Royal WE) but it is the last statement:

”Get a real space for the sake of the food you want us patrons to try.”

That is far more revealing… Here the YOU is very much the Poster’s RANT against the establishment (and we’ve covered the inappropriateness of RANTS in the REVIEW Section on OF before).

Aisu Kurimu - Agree, 5 senses are needed... in the case of the "review" in Question only one was used... looking "in" from "outside".

I believe you'll find that like yourself most Foodies appreciate a Review that gives us a lot of info... Food - Smell, Taste, Presentation... Service, Decor, etc. All of these go a long way to helping us understand someone's experience.

But a "Food Review", IMO must talk about the Food... otherwise as Snoopy Loopy has so so aptly said it isn't a Food Review, it is a critique in this case on interior design... and as such doesn't belong in the FOOD REVIEW Section (definitely welcome however in the FORUM).

Sourdough - Just for the record, not exactly a "drive-by", Poster has been a OF Member for over a year.

2009 Aug 25
Yes, I agree, we can write in the forum about the things that are not directly related to food review, since there are "Review" and "Forum" on this site... and each have different purposes and functions.
When I sined up last week, I didn't know the difference between those two review and forum, since I was new to this site:(
So I made a comment (regarding AYCE Sushi)on review which should have been made in forum :(
But I know now!!

2009 Aug 25
Aisu Kurimu - I was in no way referring to anything that you wrote personally... I was just making general observations on the difference between what constitutes a Review vs Forum Topic. (My writing style on OF is such that I always highlight a Member's Name, Vendor's Name etc).

2009 Aug 25
Yes, I know!!! please don't worry :)
It is just my regret, and it is nothing to do with your comment.
Thank you for your concern though, I appreciate it!! :)

2009 Aug 25
As Ranganathan said of books, "every review its reader."