A restaurant column with a difference

As of next week there will be a new restaurant column at lovefood.com. Our critic, James Ramsden, explains what it's all about.

The great thing about the Internet is the extraordinary breadth of opinion available. When you’re chewing over where to eat, a quick Google search returns 20 different reviews of a restaurant and on this basis you can, with any luck, make an informed decision.

If Giles loves it and Jay loves it and AA loves it and us bloggers love it, then you’re probably safe in assuming you’ll also love it.

Or are you? The flip side of such adulation is that your expectations are raised beyond all conceivable reality. It’s great that there’s such enthusiasm about new (and sometimes old) eateries, but for those prone to believing the hype, it can have bathetic consequences.

You arrive at a restaurant expecting some Xanadu with food that is rapturous and orgasmic, only to find that it’s just a fun bistro with pretty good burgers.

This column will not only look at the restaurant but also at what people are saying about it. There will be no arbitrary or finicky criticisms – I’m just talking about managing expectations.

There is, of course, no such thing as an objective restaurant review. It’s one person’s opinion and that opinion can be affected by anything from a lousy date to one rotten waiter. I will do my best to avoid hyperbole and disregard circumstantial factors. If one waitress is rude then I’ll assume her cat was recently flattened by a lorry. If a lone dish is below par in a meal of brilliance then it won’t dictate the review.

Most importantly I promise never, ever, to set out to dislike a place just because everyone else spaffs over it – I just want to tug gently on the reins of some of the more effusive critics. A bad meal is annoying, but a disappointing meal can be heartbreaking.

Been disappointed recently? Or pleasantly surprised? Which restaurants do you think need reassessing? Let us know in the comments box below.

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