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When is reviewing a restaurant unfair?

Cath asks if all restaurant reviews are fair or are we often too quick to judge?

by: Cathrine Shone | 19 Jan 2012

Hands up if you have ever waitressed or managed a restaurant before? I could also ask you if you have ever been to Hell, tapped Satan on the shoulder and asked him how he likes his eggs?

Waiting tables is not for the faint-hearted; neither is managing a restaurant, and owning one is for the downright brave. 

People go out to eat with high expectations. And so they should. You are spending quality time and money with friends and family and to have that experience annihilated by a bored waitress or bad food is unacceptable. And waiting 45 minutes for a drink is nose-bleed inducing stuff.

But sometimes you need to take certain factors into consideration when you post a review online.

For example the breakfast shift. The leading cause of nervous breakdowns in waiters. How many different ways are there to order a coffee? And they take longer to make than pouring a glass of wine. How many ways can you have your eggs?  “I’d like my yolk soft and the white firm… oh and could I please have one slice of toast now with my eggs and one later with some jam. And soya milk with my skinny decaf mocha-chino. Please”.

Breakfast is also statistically the top meal for ordering off the menu (I just made that up, but I swear it’s true). “I’d like your All Day Breakfast please, poached egg, but only one, no bacon with avo instead. No mushrooms, grated cheese rather. And instead of toast I’d like one of those pancake thingies you do with syrup. Shot”

These are not unmanageable requests, and restaurants should be able to accommodate them, but consider that they are laborious and time-consuming. And when the place is heaving these types of requests definitely slow service down.

Should we just name and shame?

Also should we consider newly-opened restaurants, public holidays and other days when the whole world decides to descend on one place? Perhaps we need to think about what’s fair before we go and post a ranting review online and harm their reputation? Was it busy enough to warrant a wait for service or were the staff merely incompetent?

When it comes to quality of food there really is no excuse, but if the restaurant is over-flowing and plates are literally flying out the kitchen – then perhaps come back another day and give them a second chance?

So, we’re asking you, is it fair to always judge a restaurant on one visit? Are there sometimes things we should take into consideration, or should we just go ahead and name and shame and damn them to Hell?

Email us on or post a comment below and the person with the most interesting opinion on how and when you should lambaste a restaurant will win themselves a R500 voucher – yes we’re giving away a big one this week because we think there is plenty to share!


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