Why I won’t review your chain restaurant

Live local, love local

In recent weeks I’ve been invited to several blogger events for big chain restaurants. And I’ve turned them down. Sure, I’d get to eat for free. Sure, I’m allowed to write what I want. But I just can’t. I’d never eat at one of these restaurants normally, so even incentivising it would make no difference to me. I try to avoid eating in chain restaurants wherever possible. I had to eat in that huge pub chain a couple of weeks ago. I felt like I needed an acid shower afterwards.

You’re might be thinking “but you’ve reviewed chain restaurants on your blog before?”. Yes, I have. I review restaurant chains where there’s less than five restaurants. I’m talking about big chains here, the ones that forsake quality ingredients for the sake of competitive prices. They also overcrowd prominent shop space in cities and towns, preventing skilled, local talent from being able to start up. OK, yes they’re providing jobs, but they’re not providing quality jobs. Anyone can put a timer on the microwave to heat up my meal. I want someone to put their love and attention into my meal, not wait for timer to ding.

The other thing I try my hardest to do is support my local community by buying local produce and eating in local restaurants. I like to think I do my bit and show my support. If I review one of the chains I feel like I’d be betraying all this. Even if I write about them in a negative light, they’re still benefitting from a review, from the SEO my blog would give them and I’d be giving up my time for them.

Let’s talk about quality too. We ate in the Portguese chicken chain for the first time in a long time last year. And we haven’t been back. I find it incredible that I am unable to select a free range chicken option. I would be happy to spend the extra money too. I like to think my food might’ve led a happy life before it was sacrificed for me to eat, even if it means spending more money. And I’d rather eat out less often, knowing the quality was better.

Chris Pople of Cheese & Biscuits wrote a review of The Aberdeen Angus Steak House a while back and after wiping the tears of laughter from my eyes I realised there was a very valid point here. Do we really want tourists to think that chain restaurant food is the best that Britain has to offer?

I’m finding it hard to articulate why exactly I don’t write to review big chains, but I hope that I’ve related enough for you to understand and I’d love to know your thoughts on it. But if you’re a big chain looking for a review, I’m afraid the answer is no.


  1. Sarah, Maison Cupcake says

    I admire your stance, even though it’s not something I have a problem with myself.
    If you’re concerned about giving SEO juice to undeserving folk why not use “no follow” links. I now do this as matter of course whenever I’m given anything to review.

    • Becs says

      Hi Sarah, yes that’s true I could do that but I guess I try and write positive reviews (obviously if something’s bad I’ll say) but if I know I’m not going to like it before I’ve even had the chance to review I’d rather just avoid it altogether. Also I think it’s good to let the good guys have my link juice. Most of the time that’s why they ask us to review. I guess I can see it from both sides :)

  2. says

    The mere mention of the word Chain sends shivers down my spine. Unless it’s a chain of Pearls around my neck, but I digress. 

    We have a couple of ‘Chain’ restaurants near where I live, only when they first opened – some years ago now, did I try them out as a take away. Service was very poor and I’ve never been back.One particular large chain I tried a couple of times, again going back some 10 years or so, the food was almost inedible but I was hungry and the ambience was nothing to write home about.I don’t know about you, but when I go out for a meal, it has to be something better than I can do myself. Brunch is something my family love and Anthony’s in the Corn Exchange is a favourite.I respect the fact that you would not review a restaurant, chain or other wise, that you would not normally visit,  just because you get a freebie out of it.

    I love the fact that a meal, in a proper restaurant, is made fresh to order, and I certainly don’t mind having to wait for it. Each plate lovingly made by the chef.

    We once went to a pub chain, where they served roast beef  pre cooked in a plastic bag, boiled frozen veg and when we asked if there were any more mashed potatoes, out they came freshly smashed.

    We don’t go out much for meals, can you tell why. Don’t get me wrong, I’m more of a baker than a cook, but I know what I like.

  3. says

    I’m pretty anti chain restaurants too, with a couple of exceptions. I think Cote is really good value and the ingredients do feel like good quality, although this varies with the branch. But I agree, so many of the chains can be completely soul destroying, and not worth the time it takes to type up a review :-)

  4. Miss South says

    Great post. I don’t like big chain restaurants either. I have a very small budget so going out for my tea is still a bit of a treat and an event and I don’t like to waste the opportunity on insipid food that tastes like a bigger portion of a supermarket meal. BUT I know I’m lucky because living in London I have lots of opportunities to eat in £15 a head including a beer places and other people don’t have that…mainly because crappy chains have put the small places out of business. Grrr.

    And I agree, if ‘that’ chicken place can’t even attempt to offer free range then I will not be availing myself of their food, free refills or no. Plus their chips are particularly awful frozen jobs that make me sad.

  5. says

    Great post! When I first started living in england I didn’t know the difference between the big chain pubs and the local ones. I just assumed that pub food = microwaved food that possibly would need to be sent back to be heated up better. Then we had our friends take us to for more local stuff.. what a difference!

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