Columbia Scholastic Press Association
Phone: (212) 854-9400
CSPA is affiliated with the Graduate School of Journalism at Columbia University in the City of New York.
Student Press Review
From Soup to Nuts: Restaurant Reviewing
Editor's note: Originally published: March 22, 2004
Photo : Tanisha Madrid
Greenman spoke about the basic principles of restaurant reviewing. Anonymity, multiple visits, and ordering the full range of the menu were a few things that he addressed.
"A review should always be conducted anonymously. If a reviewer is recognized, he should make a note of that in his review," said Greenman. "Waiters will probably be tripping all over themselves to serve him."
"It is important that a restaurant reviewer makes two, three, or even four visits to a restaurant. A restaurant's quality often varies from day to day. In order to write an accurate review, a reviewer must make multiple visits to the restaurant."
"When reviewers from The New York Times go to restaurants, they usually bring a group of people with them so that they can taste a lot of different dishes," he explained. "A reviewer should sample the full range of the menu."
Greenman also spoke about ambivalence in a review. Many students at the session considered an ambivalent review to be an indecisive one.
"It's not important to have a strong opinion of whether the restaurant is good or bad," Greenman contradicted. "Ambivalence is fine most of the time. It's a lot better than a one-sided review."
"A review is the opinion of only one person, the reviewer. If you love one thing about a restaurant, but you absolutely hate something else, then write that in your review. Your duty as the reviewer is to make sure that people who read the newspaper don't waste their time and money on a bad restaurant. Just tell them exactly what you thought about the restaurant."
Greenman also discussed ways to make a review fun to read.
"Treat a review like a conversation with an intelligent friend," said Greenman.
"Let your tastebuds write the review. Use vivid description."
"Similies are always used in reviews because they can easily convey an idea to a reader. They make reviews more fun to read by illustrating them with images."
Greenman's lecture had a powerful effect on the students. In the last few minutes of the session, they eagerly took turns recounting their experiences from lunch.
"But the sign said, 'May well be the best pizza in town,'" insisted a girl, evidently from out of town. "But it was so not true."
"The size of the large pizza was rival to the small child's size," declared another.
By the end of the forty-five minute session, Greenman had inspired participants of the convention to become restaurant reviewers of quality.
Amelia Chan is a sophomore at The Chapin School in New York, N.Y. Chan is one of 14 New York City high school students selected to participate in the Spring 2004 semester of CSPA's Stringers Program, co-sponsored with Camp Broadway.
Prevents layout breakage if no content
CSPA is an international student press association, founded in 1925, whose goal is to unite student journalists and faculty advisers at schools and colleges through educational conferences, idea exchanges, textbooks, critiques and award programs.