Dilemmas of a Travel Blogger

One of the major things I plan to do with this blog is to rate restaurants and pubs throughout Europe. This may seem straight forward, but raises a series of philosophical questions that can paralyze a pub or restaurant reviewer….me in this case. The goal of this blog entry is to share these philosophical questions, answer some of them, and get your feedback on some of the unanswered questions. I’ll couch these questions in terms of some of my past experiences. I’m sure most of you have had similar experiences.

Ok…you visit a pub, have a great time…watch the game…get to know some of the regulars and generally have a great time….but, the pub only has three beers on tap, a small selection of whiskeys, over priced single serving Chilean wines, and unpadded bar stools. So, is this a four star pub or a two star pub?

Similarly, you go to a restaurant that has a great view of a valley and the lights and you order the prime rib (on a Friday night) that is pretty good. You go to the same restaurant on a weeknight and order something other than prime rib that is pretty ordinary…the view is still great. So, is this a two star or a four star?

You go to a steak restaurant and order “the chicken dish” and it is very mediocre. The steak ordered at the same time was excellent. Everything else is great: service, wine selection, ambiance,… Is this a five star or a three star? Does the person who orders ‘the chicken dish” in the steak restaurant deserve everything they get? (or don’t get)

Do you rate pubs separately from restaurants?

Do you rate coffee shops separately from restaurants or pubs?

Here is my current combined rating matrix for restaurants and pubs

Menu

- Variety – so if you’re in a pub, do you “ding it” for only having the “standard pub food” on the menu?

- Uniqueness – Do you give “extra credit” for unique local fare.

- Price – I’ll normalize this to local prices

- Value

Food

- Quantity – mounds of potatoes don’t count in Ireland

- Quality – fresh veg, warm, tender meat

- Freshness

- Accuracy – do you knock an irish restaurant for bringing a steak that is medium-well but was ordered medium-rare. I’m 1 for 10 in getting a medium-rare steak (yes, that is correct, 90% of the steaks have been medium-well even though I ordered it medium-rare). Is this a case of I’m getting what I deserve?

Drink

- Variety – any wines by the glass that aren’t Chilean?…even good Chilean wines? A good variety of beers on tap (Coors Light doesn’t count!!!)

- Price – can you get a glass of wine for about the price of a good beer?

Ambience

- Cleanliness

- Comfort – padded bar stools…ok I’m getting old J

- Atmosphere – not too loud, good view, nicely decorated,…

- Friendliness – staff and other patrons

Service

- Friendliness

- Accuracy

- Speed

- Knowledge

So do you use the matrix above and rate each item from 1 to 5 and give it an overall rating? Or do you just mention each of these areas if they are below or above average and give the establishment an overal rating from 1 to 5?

How about the Michelin rating:

1 star – very good cuisine in its category

2 star – excellent cuisine worth a detour

3 star – exceptional cuisine worth a special journey

Then there is the Michelin Bib Gourmand – good food at moderate prices. This rating is named after the “Michelin Man”……

What are your thoughts? Did I forget something? Do you have thoughts in this area?

'Sláinte!'

Jet Lag Jack

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