How to Criticise?

Sometimes beans on toast are better!

I like to write restaurant reviews online. I do it because those reviews help me find good places to eat. And I feel like I ought to contribute to the pool of knowledge. My problem is that I’m reluctant to criticise. I’m especially reluctant to criticise a small business. I know how tough it can be to get a small business up & running. I know too that it’s been really tough for many small restaurants to survive covid restrictions. But, to be honest, some of them don’t deserve the reviews I give them!

I know, I know, that is not very helpful to the other readers. But I just can’t help it. When I hint that the food was mediocre, the service average, or the cleanliness just slightly lacking, I then compensate by enthusing about how great & nice the people were. Even if they weren’t! I’ll then tick 3 of 5 stars, because I just couldn’t force myself to give them the 2 that would have been generous.

Is this wrong?

It’s been really challenging to write good restaurant reviews in whatever phase of the pandemic we’re in at the moment. I don’t know what’s going on, but places that I used to like are now awful. Did they fire the old chef? Are they using last year’s oil? Are they buying cheap ingredients? It’s been so challenging to write good reviews, that I’m not writing any recently.

We’re all used to something advertised as “home cooked” being absolutely nothing like Mom used to make. But we’ve only got one Mom, so that’s understandable. But when something is advertised as bring authentically Irish, British, or whatever ethnic flavour is core to the business, then it should vaguely resemble that. Sometimes, it doesn’t. And when the owners are from that country, I feel even more cheated. I know they know better. Or maybe their Moms (or Dads!) were hopeless in the kitchen!

So here’s my dilemma … how do I warn the other Irish people out there that the Irish breakfast at this particular restaurant is about as Irish as flambéd alligator ice-cream? That the other place is about as British as Timbuktu? But without beating up on some small business owner, who may be struggling to pay his kids tuition through school. Or she is trying to keep the place afloat because her partner is sick. I worry that my criticism will add to the burden of their backstory.

But if I don’t offer criticism, how can I help the small businesses owner who genuinely wants the feedback, so they can improve?

I’ve built a list of new restaurants that I want to visit. I’m hoping there will be some good ones that will free me to wax lyrically about how great they are. Fingers crossed! 🤞🏻

Despite all the very mediocre food I am being served, I’m still tucking it away. So, no, I’m not losing any weight either. Maybe those people are serving me this stuff because they see that I need the help! 😜

Anyone got any idea how to best provide feedback? Without being too hurtful!

A Diet of News

A Cure for News!?!

Finally figured out what’s going wrong with my diet over the past several months. I’m watching too much news!

Watching the news on the CBC, or any Canadian channel for that matter, I need chips. It seems like when I watch CNN, I eat cookies. Switch to Fox & it’s donuts. The BBC has me craving scones. With jam & clotted cream, of course! I’m miserably failing to focus on my French lessons now too, but I sometimes watch the French news on TV5. With closed captions on, naturellement! Then I wonder why I’m digging out my crêpe maker from the back of the cupboard? 🤪

Recently, once I recognized my problem, I thought I’d try watching Bloomberg instead. That was going great ’til I found myself regretting that I hadn’t bought shares in the hot stock of a car rental company seeking bankruptcy protection. As I questioned my sanity, one eye on the ticker, I caught myself making silver dollar pancakes for breakfast! 😁

I ate out yesterday, for the first time in 3 months. I was so excited that I made all the wrong choices. The food was blah, the service only okay, but the whole experience was so great! With half the tables removed, & all the staff wearing facemasks, it was just a little weird though. But getting out was a joy. It was great to talk to real people, not on a screen. I stuffed my face but … unbelievably … the scale didn’t punish me this morning. I might have to do more of this. Is dieting all just a mind game!?!

This is probably not going to be a good month but I feel I need to support local businesses as they gradually try to get back to normal! 😜

PS … Working on my reopening shopping list for next weekend. Imagine … a visit to a mall! Woohoo! 😂