Unlike movie reviews or book reviews, restaurant reviews must take full advantage of a photojournalist’s repertoire to show off a nice little grub spot. The atmosphere of the building must be captured and summarized within a shot, and there needs to be model-esque photos of some of the dishes to entice the senses into taking a visit. Restaurant reviews utilize imagery to its fullest in order to shed one’s favorite restaurant in a positive light.
Take this New York Magazine Grub Street review by Robin Raisfeld and Rob Patronite of a Thai restaurant called Kao Soy, located in Red Hook, NY.
From the get-go, the review features a picture of the restaurant’s interior. The lighting is set so that the room is bathed in a flattering glow (albeit with some overexposed areas), and it’s framed in such a way that the various parties within the restaurant are seen, capturing the camaraderie and bustling of the joint.
Afterwards, the review displays the stars of the show–the dishes–in tight focus, gentle lighting and crisp detail. First came the main attraction and the restaurant’s namesake, the kao soy dish.
This dish has crunchy and soft noodles sitting a top a warm, thin bath of a spicy curry soup that the review describes as “a comfort food supreme.” By listing what they could taste within the dish, readers can use this photo to probe out some ingredients and imagine themselves feasting on their own serving of kao soy.
Of course, a restaurant review wouldn’t be complete by showing only one dish. The next dish featured was the Yum Tua Plu.
This sea food salad is captured at a slight bird’s eye view to portray the ingredients in their stack-like construction and give a fuller picture of the meal.
The review continues by showcasing the favorite dish among the writers: the sai-oua.
The angle at which this picture is taken captures the many elements included with the sai-oua, including the sausage, a chile-lime sauce, marinated pork and vegetables.
For restaurant reviews, it’s important to appeal to multiple senses. Describing the flavor of a dish is one thing, but adding a visual element to accompany those imagined flavor sensations can truly entice a reader into visiting a restaurant. In essence, a restaurant review cannot be written without photojournalists capturing the food they’re about to munch on.