How many visits does it take to judge a restaurant?
When I’m reviewing a restaurant, I always make at least three visits before I come up with my final opinion. This is because I have found that the experience can vary wildly from week to week, or even from night to night.
This month I thought I had my runner-up for Restaurant of the Year all figured out. On a whim I went back this week for a final, 6th meal, before writing up the review. Unfortunately, even though I ordered some of the exact same dishes I’ve had before, the dinner was quite disappointing. I present to you the scores from each of my visits:
I have friends who say a restaurant is only as good as its worst meal, but when this restaurant is on, it is terrific. With the exception of service, my meals had been stellar over the past few months. The poor meal was completely unexpected, but virtually every dish had a major flaw – salad dressings way off balance, burnt, over-seasoned pork, cold entrees, sickeningly sweet dessert… if I had gone with people who hadn’t been there before, I would have been embarrassed for making the recommendation. I was angry because I know how good this restaurant can be. I can live with iffy service, especially when I warn readers in the review, but bad food cannot be overlooked.
I don’t like writing reviews full of disclaimers – “the salad is wonderful, except one time where it tasted like the top had fallen off of the vinegar bottle”. It’s ok to do that one time, but for ten items?
My experience reinforces the need for multiple meals before writing a review, but I still have to figure out how to score it.
My question: what would you do?