Category Archives: Food

Phoenix Restaurant Review

The Sonora Brewhouse is the epitome of a good, clean, moderate, Phoenician pub/restaurant. Which means that I was really hoping for more. I was hoping that this place would be a little lived in, a little less polished, a little less new Phoenix. It’s kind of odd that big box chain food spots work at trying to get that aged look by throwing junk up on the walls and hanging it from the ceilings. Not at the Sonora Brewhouse, they’ll have none of that here, but that’s okay.

Yes, they brew their own beers and yes it’s good and more than decent. The food is better than average and always cooked. Even when you ask for your Kobe burger to be cooked medium with the hope that you’ll see some red, it’ll come out with no pink at all. Sadly, I wasn’t expecting anything different.

Do I sound disappointed? Do I sound like I’m sitting in a box of self pity? Oh woe is me, they FULLY cooked my burger. Oh woe is me, the beer is good and the steak fries have the perfect crispness on the outside and mashy-goodness on the inside. The quality at Sonora Brewhouse is what I expect at any of the big box chain restaurants like Gordon Biersch, but never get. The problem here is that they can be so much more. Food + Ambiance (personality) = Greatness. Sonora Brewhouse is missing the heart.

They’re polite and not offensive in anyway, walking the definition of middle.

This is both surprising and disappointing since they have been around for a while, but also because just a block to the east, Rosie McCaffrey’s is overflowing with heart and soul, more than you can imagine. If they can find it, tourists probably love Sonora, but remember, tourists often love going to another branch of the same TGI Friday’s that they have in their own suburbia, while on vacation in a different town.

Okay, so Sonora Brewhouse isn’t anywhere near the low level of a TGI Friday’s, but it’s almost as clean, boring, and devoid of personality, being almost completely unmemorable. Oh. They also probably have the thinnest Kobe burger patties I’ve ever seen, at least the steak fries and beer are good. My advice? Go a block east to Rosie McCaffrey’s and actually have a good time worth remembering.

A Restaurant Reviewers’s Worst Case

One of the most interesting things for a Restaurant Reviewer is having a pleasurable experience and then all of a sudden some unexpected thing occurs. After traveling around the United States and Canada for some 5-years I noticed that the service in some of the more respected restaurant chains was quite uneven.

Meaning not only was quality control at one extreme or the other or customer service hot or cold, but that consistency was quite varying from store to store or outlet to outlet. Sometimes the service was fantastic, sometimes ho-hum and on rare occasion horrific. Let me tell you some theories I developed after taking Restaurant News, Franchising Times and C-Store News for years, while also traveling and seeing it all for my self.

The theories of retail dining and the realities of what goes on are light-years from Ray Kroc’s motto’s for his early stores. First, one of the biggest issues is employee under-training, local store management and secret shopper programs as a catch all. Another issue is with employees who do not care or are simply oblivious to what they are doing.

One of my recent experiences to be discussed along the subject of; a Restaurant Reviewers Worst Case Scenario happened at a Chain Mexican Food Chain. The semi-Fast Food place was an hour from closing on a slow week-night. Getting a jump on the store clean-up I assume was the reason.

An employee came over to the trash area, just a ways from where we were sitting and started pumping ammonia cleaner into the trash can area and had the open trash can sitting between us and her, which was quite smelly. Next she sprayed down the trash can with the toxic fumes and left them there to soak in? Or for dwell time to help in cleaning.

Then proceeded to spray the area or soak the inside of the box where the trash can goes. This was getting quite hard to breath. Next seeing that the trash can had the cleaner dried on, she put more on to loosen it up and then wipe it with a rag, then hang the rag on the seat back nearest us?

Writing Restaurant Reviews

Writing informative and objective restaurant reviews can be tricky if you don’t know what to look for or how to structure the review. While everyone has their own level of ambition and knowledge the following guidelines will provide you with a solid base to write informative reviews which are useful to your readers. However, these guidelines can easily be modified for any kind of service or experience and equally well for any other type of media.

Anyway, the guidelines: Keep it centered on the food – Describe it with detail, use adjectives, mention the dishes original name but explain them if it isn’t obvious what they are. Other details to note:

  1. Surroundings – Location, view from window, neighborhood
  2. Atmosphere – Interior design, décor, cleanliness, other guests, sound volume, mood
  3. Menu – Menu and Wine list contents broadly described
  4. Service – Speed, presentation and demeanor
  5. Exclusives – What makes this restaurant stand out
  6. Make notes – Mental or in a notebook, if possible take pictures
  7. No novels – don’t work in yourself in the story, keep it factual and unbiased
  8. Don’t go too hard on failures – think of the possible reasons for the failure, is it just an “off” night
  9. Ask for information – make the staff tell you about the establishment, the food, the menu and so on
  10. Sample the courses – If you can’t sample the whole menu, try to sample a few dishes at least with the help of your friends
  11. Extras – You can nick (or ask for) press material, menus and so on to use as reference later, this is also often found on the restaurants website if they have one

And don’t forget to keep it personal! The review should reflect your experience there, it might sound counter-intuitive to keep it factual, unbiased and personal at the same time, however it really isn’t. What it means is that although the dinner might be a part of a big night out or some kind of celebration that you want to write about, those things should not be the backbone of the review even if they might be mentioned. The review is about the establishment, not you.

To illustrate my point I’ll finish with an example, an review of the Beirut Cafe in Stockholm. Although my knowledge of Lebanese food is not the best it serves as a good example for a nicely structured review of the compact type:

First off, Beirut Cafe is very popular so book your table in advance. My party showed up a Tuesday at 7pm and it was jammed! The host was very helpful and eventually managed to seat us in the lounge area. The locations is a little bit off, it’s not that it’s very far from the central parts of Stockholm, it’s just that there’s nothing else that way except fancy residences. There’s a mixed clientele although there’s mostly groups probably having some kind of after-work get together.

They have a wide array of mezes with a very good overall quality. The Kras Nana and Sojok stands out as the best mezes. The minced meat beef with mint and lemon (Kras Nana) is perfectly balanced and the lamb sausage with vegetables (Sojok) is without competition the hottest dish with the most punch served (in our selection at least). Most of the other ones just beautifully complement each other without taking over the show. The only thing not quite up on par with the rest was the Sojok bel baid (lamb sausage omelet), it was a little bit soggy and bland, maybe because I only sampled that one towards the end of our sitting.

The wine list is rather limited although they have an impressive selection of the Lebanese producer Chateau Musars champagne from 1956 and forward. A Merlot (Santa Helena Vernus Blend) and two red wines from Chateu Musar are available by the glass, the Merlot is fairly average while the least expensive of the Chateu Musars (can’t remember the name though) is very good, full of life without too much tannin and great value for the money.

I cannot stress how good atmosphere they have created, the interior design is just fabulous and never fails in any detail, the music is clear but never intruding, the service is very swift but at no point rushed and the service staff is helpful and friendly.

Capital Grille Restaurant Review

The Capital Grill brand is renowned in many cities throughout the United States among those who enjoy fine dining, and their restaurant in Providence lives up to their well-deserved reputation. It has been praised by food critics across the United States, including restaurant reviewers for The Boston Globe, The New York Times, Gourmet, Philadelphia Magazine, Miami Today, The Hill, and Chicago Tribune.

When visiting Rhode Island be sure to stop off at the Capital Grill restaurant there. It is located in Downtown West on 1 Union Station in Providence. The ambiance is elegant and stylish, yet also relaxing. Their lunch selection includes dinner choices or a special menu that ranges from $12 to $30. Some of the wait staff have worked at this restaurant for as long as 15 years and the restaurant’s formula for providing a perfect dining experience is simple: use the best ingredient, toss in some excellent skill, and stir with creativity. If, for example, you order filet with lobster and crab stuffed shrimp in caramelized shallot butter, they are so tender that you can cut them with your fork. Needless to say the food also melts in your mouth. What’s more, the service-from appetizers to desserts-is always impeccable.

Rhode Island’s Capital Grille is well-known for drying aging steaks on the premise, offering chops, and providing the best North Atlantic fresh seafood, including very large lobsters. Besides the food, they also provide gracious and professional service and their wine list have won awards. Whether you’re alone or part of a group that has gathered to enjoy an affable lunch, a cherished dinner or a luxurious soiree in one of the restaurant’s private dining rooms, you’ll always find the servers delightful. They are gracious and knowledgeable, and even uncanny in their skill at anticipating your needs.

The interior décor consists of a deep and rich African mahogany, art deco style chandeliers offering soft, warm lighting, and comfortable seating. The ambiance can best be described as elegant, refined, and soothing. Those seeking a lively, rather than calming, atmosphere can enjoy the social camaraderie at the sophisticated bar.

There is a very good reason why the American Culinary Federation bestowed Capital Grille an Achievement of Excellence Award. Apart from the excellent steaks that are dry aged and perfectly grilled and fresh seafood flown in from both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, patrons can discover their perfect wine from a choice of 5,000 bottles. These wines are from some of the best wineries in the world, including wines from the United States, South America, Germany, Italy, and France. Those who are not familiar with how to select their wines are helped by a sommelier, a knowledgeable wine steward who has specialized in studying the many aspects of wine. Additionally, patrons are even offered the option of a personalized wine locker. These can be leased for the year to house selected collections.

Trinidad and Tobago Restaurant Review

Restaurant Reviewed: Apsara, Port Of Spain
Cuisine: Indian
Restaurant Type: A La Carte

If you are looking for an upscale Indian restaurant, in Port of Spain, that serves divine food, look no farther than Apsara. Located in Queen’s Park East, very close to the President’s residence, this eatery has a brilliant ambiance. Book your table 24 hours in advance (Tel no. (868) 623-7659), as the place is always crowded.

I’d like to tell you the bad news first. Don’t expect fast service here. Go early and allow 45 minutes to an hour to get your order. Once you are mentally prepared to wait, you’ll find that the food was worth the wait.

This is a good place for conversation, and you can spend the waiting time talking to your friends accompanying you, or better still taking in the ambiance. The restaurant has brilliant interior design with a lot of Mughal art rendered by a contemporary artist going by the name of Sarah Beckett.

Coming to the cuisine, you could either go for an a la carte menu, or opt for a fixed price buffet. I would recommend going a la carte. This is just the place for you, if you like kebabs; try the Husseini Boti Kebabs for starters.

For the main course you could try a Chicken Tikka Masala accompanied by Peshawari Naan, or Bharwan Aloo Paratha (Indian bread with a stuffing of seasoned potatoes).

If you are in a mood to experiment, I would recommend Murgh Nazakat, among chicken dishes, or if you prefer sea food, try the mouth watering Apsara Machi, or the Masala Shrimp. They can also russle up a mean Paneer Tikka, if cottage cheese be your badge.

I can go on and on about the food but I have listed all my personal favourites, and there are plenty of choices, if you want vegetarian fare, too.

Gorge on the food by all means, but do leave some place in your tummy for dessert, in the form of Gulab Jamun, or Ras Malai, or Kulfi.

And when you get the bill you’ll be pleasantly surprised — it will cost you no more than about Trinidadian $60 (one hundred Trinidadian dollars equal seven US dollars) per person, and that includes drinks, and service.


Service [rating:2/5]

Ambience [rating:4/5]

Food Quality [rating:5/5]

Hygiene [rating:4/5]

Location [rating:4/5]

Overall rating:4/5

Best Dish: Chicken Tikka Masala

Tip: If you prefer a particular wine tell them when you book your table, so they don’t run out of it while you’re eating!

How to Write a Restaurant

The point of writing a review is to give information about the good & bad aspects (if any!) about the dining establishment.

What should be the style of the review? 
It should be in a chatty style to make it fun to read & not in a boring formal style.

What aspects should be emphasized in a review?
All aspects are important – the location, the exterior, the ambience, the decor & furnishings, the menu, the table settings, the service, and, of course, the food.

What are the ways to describe the various aspects?
The location: Is it easy to locate with some major landmark nearby? Is it a busy commercial area? Is it primarily a residential area? Is there parking space?

The exterior: Does the restaurant have indoor & outdoor space? If only indoor space, is there seating space outside for waiting diners? Is there any overhead awning? Is a staff member outside to take reservations or parcel orders?

The ambience: Is the atmosphere a cheerful one or is it a dull depressing place?

The decor & furnishings: What is the lighting system – soft/dim/harsh/garish lighting? Are the walls covered with some kind of paintings or other decorative designs? What is the seating arrangement?

The menu : Was the menu design anything extraordinary? What is the least expensive & the most expensive item listed in the menu? What is the variety of cuisine listed? Is there a separate wine list?

The table settings: How is the table top – glass, wood, Formica, etc? Were glasses, & table napkins already set?

The service: How was the attire of the staff (e.g. if a festival is on-going, then the waiters could be in traditional clothes matching the festival)? Did the waiter come quickly to take your order? Did the food come to the table quickly? Was any food item not ordered brought to your table? Did the waiter hover around the table in an irritating manner?

The food: Was it bland, spicy, salty, too sweet? What exactly did you / your group eat? Were the prices worth it?

Additional Tips:
Be creative: Basically in writing a restaurant review you should use different kinds of words when describing the decor and the food. You cannot use the word ‘nice’ and ‘tasty’ or ‘delicious’ repeatedly! To find different kinds of words and not sound like a parrot, type out your review in a Word doc. on your computer; check out other similar words by using the computer dictionary [Tools-Language-Thesaurus].

Enhance your review with photos if possible. If you have a digital camera with you, you can take photos of the food too. It is very important, however, to always ask for permission to take photos inside the restaurant. Some establishments are very strict about taking photographs and you must always respect rules & regulations. If at all you are asked why you are taking a photograph, you can simply say you are trying out your new camera! Naturally, you should not state that you are going to write a review too – then it is guaranteed that the management will go out of their way to please you & you will not get the real picture!

Make Or Break With Restaurant

If a dining establishment serves up tasty and fresh food to match the budget of the everyday man, its name is bound to withstand the tides of time. Due to the overwhelming influx of such excellent places popping up throughout the neighborhood and city, competition becomes a painful reality. Like it or not, restaurant reviews become essential tool, if not weapons, to stamp a mark of distinction from the rest whilst blow away potential rivalry on the path towards being the best steak house or pizza joint.

Although the method of formal advertising and marketing practices is the norm, experienced business owners recognize the importance of the word of mouth. To wheedle one’s place into the list of recommended restaurants, the restaurateur obviously needs to draw in the clientele and impress their taste buds. Without making too deep a dent to their wallets, their diners should be coming back fast and furious, dragging family and friends along for the best home cooked meal or haute cuisine.

Other than reliance on the public, it never hurts to invite restaurant reviewers to drop by for a sample tasting of the fare. To ensure they receive similar treatment as the everyday man who steps off the street into the restaurant, these characters often take extra effort to appear incognito. Although it may seem like the best job in the world, it certainly entails some job hazards as dishes are like books. One cannot judge its flavor by the beautiful presentation. Since chefs are known to be kitchen scientists, some experiments are bound to taste better than others. An unfortunate diner subject to a warring palate may not be frequenting such a recommended restaurant in the future, no matter how many stars the chef holds. However, if the place lives up to its name as a dining heaven, full reservations and waiting lists hold its future for success.

Traditional NYC-Style Restaurant Reviews Don’t Cut It

Common for men, uncommon for women, now more than ever, more women are venturing out on their own void of the traditional packs of women or only with a date. The Baby Boomer & Gen X women who are 35 and over have hit their stride and are more independent and affluent than any generation of women ever has been. They’re not going to the bars for ladies nights anymore either. They have the inclination, the attitude, and the moxy to go it alone to fine dining venues, and won’t let being alone stop them from enjoying life. Affluent, well-educated single women have become a demographic group that more and more restaurant owners are trying to attract as their spending habits are as much for clothing and cars as for sushi, steak and fine liquor.

The concept

While men have never been adverse to venturing out alone, women have traditionally waited for Room Service if traveling, taken a quiet table in some off beat spot, grabbed a quick bite, waited for their girlfriends, or just didn’t go out. Until recently, many restaurants conveyed almost a sense of pity when a single woman walked in the door. Other establishments have had an almost sense of astonishment at the lady’s bravery. Now, many are offering welcoming atmospheres, communal tables, and letting women know the best nights to visit their engaging establishments, not just to dine on fine entrees, but to relax and meet people.

Until recently, most fine dining or restaurant reviews have been tailored more for where to go with a date or business associate than on the concept of going there as a single. They talk only about the food and little about the atmosphere. These reviews often use the puffery and stuffy references to things such as the aged quality of the steak or the pizzazz of a sauce. Sure, this is very important to a foody, but for affluent single women, most want to know more about the crowd, the friendliness and comfort level of the setting.

The other review category is for bars or nightclubs, which rarely talk about the food but the party that starts late in the evening for a much younger audience. As a larger segment of our population grows older, there’s been a need to cover the blurring of activity that constitutes engaging dining and socializing, and to bridge the gap between the standard restaurant review and that of a nightclub review. In other words, if it is fun to go to a certain establishment, and if so, the specific nights that are most active for singles. Many restaurants have a night that’s often livelier than others where singles feel more welcome than being stuck in a small corner table all alone albeit for a magazine, or worse yet for a woman on business, to order room service due to being alone.

The solutions

To address the gap between restaurant review and bar review, new sources of information are cropping up. Several websites have sections for “single friendly” establishments, lounges, and are designed to specifically target the best restaurants on the best nights of the week. Other regional sites have cropped up as part of traditional newspaper and magazine sites, but it can be hard to really ferret out the information and get “in the know” so to say. If you were to call a restaurant, most will say every night is good in order to get patrons, but we know this just isn’t the case. For a single woman venturing out on your own, nothing is worse than to decide to go out to a fine dining venue and find 40 tables of couples squirreled away quietly talking. Then, to find out from the bartender that last night was the hot night.

At a recent women’s networking function held recently at a Ruth Chris’s on Long Island, one of these sites, ElleEatist got an overwhelming “Finally! What a great idea!” After this one rather small event attended by just 20 women, the site received a spike of interest with several hundred hits alone that night due to pass along readership. It seems that they’ve been waiting for this for several reasons – the site identifies places to go when they travel on business; with precious little free time, they want to know where to go to socialize & when; and lastly, several said it’s a great resource for where to go for first dates or meetings. The sites traffic picks up as the weekend gets closer.

Restaurant Reviews From California

There’s no need to search far in California or New York to locate one of several fine dinning restaurants. For anyone who is seriously interested in locating a fantastic one for supper, whether or not it’s with close friends, family members, or maybe that special someone to you personally.

It could be as challenging as looking for a needle inside a hay-stack at times.

There might be a number of respectable smartphone applications where you can look into restaurants within your neighborhood however they really don’t provide detailed food selection or menus and or photographs. In cases like this, you wouldn’t want just a listing of restaurants, you need a little something a whole lot better.

It is advisable to find ways to get sneak-peeks by means of images, in addition to insightful information and price ranges, and also the different varieties of delicacies that a restaurant features.

Does your special occasion need more thrilling restaurant choices than usual?

It’s quicker to select the ideal family type restaurant, fine-dining restaurant, as well as informal dining destinations whenever you take full advantage of on-line restaurant guides, they can assist you to quickly pick out exactly what you or others are looking for. In many cases, a lot more than the ordinary names and standard specifics. You will get all sorts of bonuses and information on eating place with the proper information such as, kinds of food items these places serve, the typical range of prices for that restaurant, photos in addition to menus.

In case you are to the business side with the restaurant, like an owner or even thinking about opening one in the near future, you are going to have a very distinctive narrative. On the internet cafe and restaurant reviews imply different things in your case and what they necessarily mean to individuals searching for a spot to try to eat. Strategies are for testimonials to be able to paint the eatery within the most optimistic light achievable. You need the bistro cafe or any eating hot spot to be able to capture the interest of people searching for wonderful restaurants within California or anywhere for that matter.

Fundamentally you must always be thinking about appealing to those people who are searching for just what your own eating place is offering, it could be a family type restaurant, or perhaps Ancient Greek, Mexican, Native Indian, or even Chinese eating place. You need to have the ability to give folks discount coupons to enable them to come and find whatever you are offering at a lower price. You need detailed evaluations or positive reviews for any dining establishments within Los Angeles and also the San Francisco Bay-Area, and you will get these whenever you list ones restaurant with the appropriate tutorial, yes, on the internet.

You have to create and keep building a positive reputation for the eatery and make certain that it’s recognized by the general public if you wish the restaurant to flourish. Those who work in the business currently have paid out a whopping price tag while surviving in the past economic downturn.

The end result is, it does not matter if you’re the greatest thing to hit Thai food markets in Brooklyn, if no one has seen you or even that you’re among the best dining places in New York, if nobody is aware where your location is, they are not going to come inside. So, get on the information highway of the world-wide-web and enjoy the ride of good fortune.

Getting Positive Restaurant Reviews

As someone invested in the productivity of your restaurant, you are aware of the impact that a restaurant review can do to your place of business. Food critics will often come disguised and will not announce their presence to the restaurant in hopes of getting a true experience that the restaurant has to offer, rather than one that is catered to and false. Although this can be a great opportunity for many restaurant owners, it can also be nerve-racking to try and get the restaurant to its best condition possible in preparation for such an event.

In addition to cooking great food and having a delicious menu of options, you have to think about the décor and ambiance of the restaurant. You want patrons to feel comfortable and relaxed in their environment. They should be able to enjoy their surroundings just as much as they enjoy their food. One way you can spruce up any restaurant is with the addition of a fire pit. A fire pit can be used for various type of restaurants, such as hip and trendy too family-friendly or even romantic. This is one thing that the food critic will find appealing about the restaurant and is likely to give a positive effect on their restaurant review of the place.

Fire pits can be used outside in the evenings to create a sociable environment for customers. They can sit in front of the fire pits with their drinks and appetizers, catching up with one another while enjoying the flames. This would get a positive review in a restaurant review because it is a fun and enjoyable way to get people together and it makes patrons want to revisit that location at a later date. It can also be a romantic place to take a date for the evening.

Families enjoy being around fire pits during their meals as well. It gives them an opportunity to eat dinner at a location other than home and the traditional diner. Restaurant reviews look positively on places that have a unique feel to them, yet are still family friendly in nature. It is good for business when your customers like the feel of your restaurant and find it aesthetically pleasing. The use of a fire pit can do both for your food establishment. It is a great way to ensure the undercover food critic will give you a positive restaurant review for the type of environment you are creating.