Two and a half years ago, I started on a journey to experience restaurants and create helpful, credible and entertaining reviews. I gave myself a few self-imposed rules to follow, without exception. I would always review independently, anonymously and fairly. I would never get on my high horse and belittle, embarrass or berate. This was not an egocentric mission to blast the smallest of errors but to give the restaurant a genuine summary of their performance. Every review I write has two audiences – one is the consumer who wants to learn about the restaurant and be entertained at the same time. The other is the restaurants themselves. I try to offer genuine advice and feedback with each review, with the hope that FoodSheikh can play a small part in helping the industry raise its standards – one restaurant at a time.
I have reached a milestone in my journey – I have just finished my 100th review. It may not seem a lot – especially against the thousands of restaurants in Dubai, but for me it is significant, because each review is a story in itself – one thousand words of research, knowledge, and narrative. It is a portfolio I am proud of, and I am grateful for all the people I have met along the way.
I’ve developed a significant audience across all my platforms. It’s not the biggest audience, but they are intelligent, engaged and supportive and I wouldn’t swap them for anything. Every review is read thousands of times, reaching into the hundreds of thousands in totality, if you include everyone who clicks through from other platforms as well.
Here are a few highlights from one hundred restaurant reviews
The Ingredients (serves 100 restaurants):-
52,560 Aed – Amount spent on restaurant bills alone. No alcohol included.
451 – Number of dishes eaten.
116 Aed – Average dish price.
525 Aed – Average Check (for two)
3 hours – the time it takes to write a review
5 hours – the time it takes to research for a review.
13% – % of restaurants reviewed that have since closed.
Methodology/What I’ve learned.
I can count the great restaurants on one hand. The rest fit into a mosh pit of mediocracy. Originality cannot be celebrated enough. You can tell how committed or passionate the owner is within 3 minutes of walking into a place. The art of the table touch is dead. Only 18% of reviews had a meaningful table touch by a manager or supervisor. Genuine hospitality is still an issue in F&B service. Avocados, so many avocados. Most restaurants are 40% too big. Bread quality is mediocre. Foodies can spot an influencer fluff piece a mile away. Nothing is as important as overall experience. Facebook is the blogger’s frenemy. Restauranteurs trump hoteliers when it comes to F&B, hands down. Ingredients maketh meal. The word authentic is overused and misunderstood. Some PR companies don’t truly understand restaurants. Celebrity Chefs will have to work harder. Restaurants are obsessed with escapism. Always tip in cash. Eating out is expensive.