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How do you judge a restaurant?

Cath Shone ponders this contentious point.

11 Nov 2011

It’s Oscar season for the restaurant industry…

And you’d have to have your head wedged firmly in the terra firma not to have noticed the outpouring of congratulations, and er, other sentiments on Twitter, blogs, and here on Food24.

But, how do you judge a restaurant?

It’s a tricky one. Because we get invited to a new restaurant opening and it’s so awesome and shiny we flick flack out of there only to hear 4 months later that the place is closing down? Other launches we attend leave us largely unimpressed (they really could have given us MCC…) and what do you know, that restaurant is still going strong.

Cape Town food journalist Tony Jackman recently wrote a column saying longevity is a good way to judge a restaurant’s greatness, but by the same token – there are great chefs out there who have not managed to overcome the economic climate and fickleness of diners, no matter how much experience and skill they have.

And the winner is...

Eat Out editor Abigail Donnelly is judging the annual Eat Out Awards solo this year with input from reader reviews and a panel of professional reviewers. These awards are the pinnacle of achievemnet for a restaurant or chef in South Africa and it is a great honour to be shortlisted for the Top 20 let alone make it to the Top 10.

The inaugural Top 10 Places to Eat Cape Town awards have just been launched, to possibly rival Eat Out, and although there is dissent amongst certain foodies as to the selection process of these awards the view was to include places that are not intimidating in a “fine dining” sort of way. Harder, one would think, to whittle down a Top 10 here than for a “fine dining” awards?

Top 10 Places to Eat Jozi?

Joburg readers are always in a flap about the fact that they only ever have a couple of representatives in the Eat Out Awards every year. But are there really any more restaurants in Joburg that match up to their Western Cape counterparts? I mean do you see anyone organizing a Top 10 places to Eat Jozi awards?

Would be nice though wouldn’t it? Because as much as we whine about how and who got into the Top 10 of this or Top 20 of that – it’s a way to get us talking about restaurants and give them the recognition they mostly deserve, and hell, if it gives diners a few good choices then let’s have more of them!

But then we are back at square one… what is the fairest way to judge who makes it onto these distinguished lists?

Should there be a bigger panel of judges per region? Should the people vote?

What do you think is fair criteria for who makes it and who doesn't?

Please email us at and let us know how you would like to see restaurants judged?

Read more on: wine  |  food  |  top 10  |  awards  |  judge  |  restaurants

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