A Guide: Eating Out - Reviews

Some guidance about the food reviews on The Wax Picture

As I am starting to review caf├ęs, restaurants, and other places that one might go out for a meal, I thought it would be helpful to explain a little about my reviews and the star ratings that go with them. The reviews I post are always honest, with no hidden agenda - I eat out somewhere and tell you what I thought of the experience.

The reviews include not only the food and drink, but the general hygiene, the attitude of the staff (e.g. how friendly/helpful/etc. they are) and the general 'feel' of a place (e.g. layout, comfort, etc.). It's unlikely I'll mention the menu choices (apart from what I've actually ordered), as I am a vegetarian and like to check in advance to make sure I can actually eat at a given location. Although this is 2018, and despite the major advances vegetarianism and veganism have made over the last 12 months, you'd be surprised at how many places still only serve vegetarian lasagne or insist that parmesan is suitable for veggies (it's not!) So if I mention a menu, I either stupidly forgot to check in advance or it's so good that it's worth mentioning!

I have high standards. Incredibly high standards. As my family and friends will tell you, if I say I'm impressed with something, that means it's bloody good. Really bloody good. Although I have eaten at Michelin starred restaurants, I'm no food snob. I don't like it when chefs describe a simple gravy as a jus. It's just gravy - pack it in. It's the same with things described as 'foam'. Isn't foam what you get when washing your car, or something that comes out of a fire extinguisher? No thank you. I'm sure you get the idea! (If you don't, then follow this link for more ridiculousness!)

Now on to the star ratings. I rate from one star to five stars. Most places are highly unlikely to achieve five stars. This is because something needs to be absolutely perfect in every way possible for this rating. It has to be amazing. A four star review is still something the location should be very proud of, and anywhere gaining one of these is worthy of many repeat visits. On the other end of the scale, a one star review is as bad as it gets. If somewhere falls between ratings (e.g. neither just average, but not quite good), it will get an additional half a star. The following descriptions only apply to reviews following the date of this post.

- Poor - To get this rating, the food will have been abysmal. The food may have been served on something other than a plate or in a bowl (see this link for examples). The beverages on offer may be rather basic, and/or perhaps not in-keeping with the tone of the restaurant. There may be other issues, such as poor hygiene and rude staff. Even if the service was impeccable, the decor was beautiful and there was lots of choice for vegetarians, but the food was terrible, this is the highest rating the place will manage. Additionally, no amount of the place trying to correct what was wrong will improve the rating if it was sufficiently bad to receive this rating - if you can't cook to begin with, it's unlikely you'll magically learn instantly after one complaint. I'd never go back to somewhere with such a low rating.

- Average - The food etc. was just ok. Nothing special at all, but not bad enough to be 'poor'. The selection of beverages available was ok, but nothing special. There may be things done very well, but countered by things done badly. The service won't be up to much, but it wont be rude either. The place itself may be a haphazard mix of styles, both in the food and the decor. It's unlikely I'd revisit a place with two stars, unless I was really hungry and there was nowhere else open nearby.

- Good - The food was nice, the service was efficient and friendly. The seating is reasonably comfortable, and the menu had a good choice for vegetarians. The choice of beverages was good, with some unusual choices, but in-keeping with the location. The surroundings were pleasant, with a little thought applied to the style. The place was clean and organised, with no difficulty in getting to the table (save for other people being in the way.) I'd probably return to somewhere like this after 6 months or so.

- Very Good - The food was delicious, the service was fast, and very friendly. There was a good choice of vegetarian options, with some unusual ones on the menu too. There will have been a reasonable selection of vegan options also on the menu. The choice of beverages was well thought out, and appropriate with the tone of the restaurant. The place is comfortable, with obvious thought gone in to the needs of diners. The decor is carefully considered, and matches the tone of the restaurant. I'd recommend a place such as this to anyone who asked.

- Excellent - The food was fantastic, with every individual flavour noticeable. The service was very friendly and knowledgeable, with the staff understanding each dish and perhaps making recommendations. Beverages were excellent, and match the food beautifully. The menu was exciting, with plenty of vegetarian and vegan options available (or very unusual options which were beautiful). Each course was presented in an appropriate time frame (i.e. there was a reasonable time between starter, main and dessert. I wasn't left waiting for too long, nor were courses rushed out.) There was absolutely no mention of parmesan in a vegetarian dish. The location was very clean, and very comfortable. The entire experience was perfect. I'd probably eat here all the time if I could - although it's probably a rather expensive place!

So there you have it. A simple breakdown of the star ratings I give to places I've visited and then reviewed. As always, feel free to let me know what you think in the comments!

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