To a food critic

For 38 years Joanne Kates was the food critic for the Globe and Mail. Growing up Kates’ weekly restaurant reviews kept me entertained despite the fact she was writing about places I wasn’t likely to ever visit. Although it was difficult to pick one, the review of Aria is a strong representation of her writing style. It is a demonstration of the skills she honed during her long career. This review is a classic example of her no-nonsense style of writing that aims to give the reader a clear a picture of the restaurant as possible.  Some key aspects of the writing style stand out as indicators of an engaging and informative review. She references “research”, gives detailed description of food and integrates comparisons between other restaurants, as well as relating these to her own past experiences.

Joanne Kates’ “research”, comes from her habit of visiting each restaurant more than once. This is an attempt to ensure the restaurant’s consistency and form a fully analysed opinion of her experiences. Descriptions of food may seem to be an obvious feature to include, however, I want to emphasize the quality of description. When something is good, you as the reader, might feel your mouth beginning to water at the descriptions of the delicious meal. On the other hand, if the food was terrible or subpar the reader is equally engrossed in wondering, just how bad can it really be? This is not simply an accounting of what was eaten but the emotions that went along with the meal. As someone who has had occasional meals that left me speechless and totally lost in my meal, emotions are important.

Finally, comparisons between the restaurant in question and others which may be similar (or in this case related to) allow readers to get a better sense of the type of food as well as the expected quality. As an added bonus, most of Kates’ reviews also include an anecdote which relates to the restaurant. In the opening of the review the reader is usually given a small taste of what is to come in the article. In this example, her own experience of skills transference is referenced and she points out that in her case the skills in question did not end up being transferable. The same goes for Aria vs. Noce. The original and far superior restaurant, apparently did not translate well into its more contemporary “spawn”.

A review (by me, for a class) of a review by Joanne Kates – Aria’s food is far from pitch perfect


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