Dining out can often be a challenge especially when wanting to try and new restaurant or, maybe during heavy restaurant time such as holidays and weekends. The toughest challenge we all face when searching for a new restaurant is attempting to find information about the restaurant. The menu is most critical for many will not visit a restaurant if they cannot view the menu. Pricing is also critical but, most visited information on the Internet today is restaurant reviews. If a friend or a family member, somebody who’s trusted recommends a restaurant, many of us will go. That is just one opinion but, when it comes to reading many reviews from complete strangers who you do not know the culinary knowledge, type of person they are, how many reviews they have written or even if a specific review is lineament. Restaurant reviews are a key source for disgruntled employees or competitors to post reviews. Next, relying on just the reviews to form an opinion could result in not going to a restaurant that would be quite enjoyable. The same goes for visiting a restaurant due to their wonderful reviews. Look at their menus first! Take the bad reviews into context. Bad reviews are not uncommon for a restaurant that has only been open three weeks. The restaurant is still working out the kinks. All information sources mentioned take much time to obtain so, maybe with some free time, scan restaurants and make a list of want to visit restaurants. Then, the challenge is much less trying to learn about a restaurant 15 minutes before walking out the door or reading on your cell phone while driving.
The desire arises to not only find a new restaurant but, to venture into a new cuisine. Not doing the necessary homework before visiting a new restaurant could bring you to a new cuisine without even knowing it. Villa Capri in Clear Lake is a good example. It is an Italian restaurant per say but, the cuisine is from the Island of Capri. One evening it is decided that after all that people have said about how good French food it is time to try. Do some research first and learn about French food so it is known what is being ordered. Quiche is a good example. Quiche is made from eggs and Quiche Loraine is made with ham. Next, search for the owners and or executive chef’s credentials. If the restaurant is French, does the restaurant truly offer authentic French food? Bistro Des Amis is a good example. Owner and executive Master Chef Bernard Cuillier went to school for six years in France and was trained in France. He is a true French chef and the highest of credentials. As I write this article, I know that Barnard is on his way home from cooking for the President of Mexico. Last but, not least, look at prices on the menus so you do not get surprised. Many authentic ethnic restaurants can be a little pricier per say than a restaurant that has a couple of French food items on their menu. Trying something new can be fun, especially when it comes to dining but, do you your homework first.
Restaurant reviews is truly the main focus of this article and I stated is the most visited source of information about restaurants. So, does one restaurant review company hold a stronger validity than other restaurant review companies? The only way I know how to judge restaurant review companies is how they post the reviews. For example, Urban Spoon reviews are posted instantly where as B4-U-Eat.com read all reviews before being posted. More issues exist on the subject of validity beyond the validity of the restaurant review company and that is the validity of the review itself and the credentials of the reviewer. Many of the restaurant review sites offer the ability to look at the profile of the reviewer and the profile shows how many reviews have been posted. So, judging the reviews in this manner is important. Bistro Des Amis has awesome reviews on B4-U-Eat.com but, not so good on Urban Spoon for example. All of the bad reviews are from reviewers who have never posted a review on Urban Spoon in the past and their name/ profile could not be found on other restaurant review sites. Bistro Des Amis knows this because they hired a PR firm to focus specifically on the restaurant reviews. Many Houston restaurants take their reviews seriously. I know when owning a restaurant we looked at reviews twice a week. Other restaurants I was involved with did the same. Some review sites though give the restaurant the opportunity to converse with unhappy patrons to resolve issues. Knowing how a review site operates is just important as evaluating the reviews.
Dining out is something that Houstonians do most often compared to other major cities, which means that many patrons want to try something new. Learning about new restaurants can often be a challenge especially during heavy restaurant time such as holidays and weekends. This challenge is much less if time is put aside to review restaurants and make a list of want to visit restaurants. The desire to visit a new restaurant may also encompass trying a new cuisine. Taking into context the validity of the reviews is important but, most important is evaluating all information including menus, credentials of the restaurant including how long they have been in business. Ethnic restaurants such as Houston French restaurants are in reality specialty restaurants and knowing this could mean different cuisines, prices and ambiance. If you are not familiar with French food, research first or ask somebody before visiting a Houston French restaurant. Look at more than one restaurant review site whether first reviews are good or bad. If a restaurant has bad reviews, they attempt to determine the validity of the restaurant reviewer. A restaurant should post links to some of their reviews. Bistro Des Amis has links on their website to many of their reviews. They have received the 2011 Open Table Diners Choice award and their review from the Houston Press is also listed. Come visit Bistro Des Amis, which translates into English to Bistro of my friends. If the visit to Bistro Des Amis, which is one of the leading Houston French restaurants, is a first time for you, then try and visit during a time they will not be packed. Ask to meet Bernard. Patrons are Bernard’s friends and he has many of them.