Wednesday, 18 April 2012

why review restaurants?

One of the things that I find difficult about finding good restaurants in London is that it's difficult to find reviews of omnivorous restaurants by vegetarians. It's not hard to find reviews of vegetarian restaurants but, while there are some great vegetarian restaurants in London, you can't eat at The Gate all the time. OR CAN YOU?
Anyway. I don't think I know of a vegetarian restaurant critic and omnivorous critics - both professional and amateur - don't usually get what I'm looking for. I can't speak for all vegetarians but what I want in a restaurant is nice food. Sounds obvious, I know. But lots of critics seem to think that, instead, what I want to know is how much choice I have. 'There are usually two vegetarian options' is the kind of thing they might say in a restaurant review.

I don't really care how many options there are. Obviously, I care a little bit - I'd rather have the choice between two incredibly tasty options than just one incredibly tasty option. But I'd much rather have one really tasty choice than 20 indifferently prepared choices. In a sense, this is obvious - restaurant critics never say 'there are 20 meat dishes on the menu' and then just leave it at that because the whole point of the review is to tell you what those dishes are like, not just how many of them there are on the menu.

I realise that this is because vegetarians are such a small minority of the population (I think the vegetarian society estimates around 10 per cent) and so, frankly, critics don't need to bother writing for them. I find it annoying (obviously) but I think it is a reasonable decision on their parts.

The solution, really, is for vegetarians to step up and do it for themselves - post restaurant reviews and help other vegetarians to find tasty food. Because tasty food is good. There are various excellent sites that do this but a lot of the focus on those sites is on vegetarian restaurants. It's harder for vegetarians to find reviews of nice vegetarian food at omnivorous restaurants. I tend to find those by just random googling.  It occurs to me that it's a bit selfish of me not to contribute to those resources so that's what I intend to try to do by posting reviews on here and on other review sites.


  1. I agree - and unfortunately the quality of meat dishes is a rather poor predictor of the quality of vegetarian dishes. I suspect there are too many chefs out there that just aren't good at (and/or don't care about) non-meat-based food.

    1. Indeed. Sometimes, it isn't even a good predictor of the type of vegetarian dishes either. It's not uncommon to go to a restaurant which prides itself on really English cooking, only for the vegetarian option to be risotto!

      Wild mushroom risotto. Again.

      And I love mushrooms!