Monday, October 03, 2011

Bowie Restaurant Project: How to Review a Restaurant

For an explanation of the Bowie Restaurant Project, look here.

For a list of all the Bowie Restaurant Project reviews, look here.

At 18 out of 78(ish) restaurants reviewed, I'm about a quarter of the way through this project. The process has been somewhat ad hoc -- for example, where I decided what constitutes a restaurant.

One thing I've been thinking about is how many visits to give a restaurant before writing a review. One visit might not be enough -- I could catch a place on a rare bad day, or I could miss the fact that an establishment is terrible half of the time. On the other hand, this is not exactly a profit-making project, and I don't have the time to eat at every Subway twice in order to establish that it's exactly like every other Subway.

So here are the criteria I've established.
  • If it's part of a chain, and I've already visited other restaurants in the chain, one visit will suffice.
  • If not, two visits should suffice.
  • If the restaurant has table service, at least one of the visits should be dine-in; otherwise, I'll just look around at the seating options and feel free to take my food home.
Reviews for two places I've visited are currently on hold due to the dine-in requirement. Three are awaiting my second visit. Three technically meet all requirements, but I am having trouble forming an opinion and may require a re-visit. One I'm all set on, and a review should be appearing later in the week.

That leaves...about 50 restaurants to go. Ouch. Some are going to be tricky due to the dine-in requirement -- it's not easy dragging toddlers to new restaurants (though it's fun when they love it, as happened at one place this weekend). Some are going to be a pain because they have a dine-in requirement and are so uninspiring that I'm going to have trouble convincing someone to join me for the dine-in, with or without toddlers. (On a related note, see this article "What Does Your Choice of Casual Dining Chain Say About You?" Of the six chains they make fun of, Bowie lacks only a Red Lobster.)

On the other hand, half of what's left can probably be knocked out with a simple willingness to branch out during my lunchtime forays. This conflicts with my desire to pack a lunch more often, as well as the tempting convenience offered by the Uptown Cafe, whose arrival I noted last month. Still, if I end up at one or two a week, the project should move along to its planned 2012 conclusion.

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