I started doing restaurant reviews on my personal blog, Fertile Ground Zine, seven years ago as a way to deal with how awful it was to dine out in restaurants with my young children. At the time the monkeys were both under three, and the only thing I cared about was getting in and getting out without major incident. The reviews focused mostly on the service and the cleanliness of the restrooms, and usually included an in-depth, often exaggerated description of the hijinx that ensued during the meal. My reviews were popular enough that when someone I suggested I dedicate an entire blog to them, I did.
Seven years later, Dining with Monkeys has evolved into an award winning blog, and I am often recognized as "The Dining with Monkeys lady." Now that my kids are older, and I have several years of freelance writing under my belt, my reviews are more polished and food-centric, but my overall goal is still to simply point families in the direction of good dining experiences by arming them with pertinent information.
If I have a bad experience, I try to write the review in a way to help others avoid my mistakes so that they may have a good experience. If I go somewhere that is truly not appropriate for children, or adults for that matter, I typically err on the side of just not writing anything. I am not here to put anyone out of business. Just the opposite is true. I love promoting local businesses.
Notice that there isn't a single ad here? That's because I don't do this blog to make money. And although I do often write about food for the Flyer, the CA, and Edible Memphis, this blog is not affiliated with any of those publications. It's 100% independent and all of the opinions expressed are my own (or those of the guest reviewer). I am not compensated in any way before, during, or after writing a review.
I just wanted to make sure everyone was on the same page because I had a really unsettling experience on Friday. I was verbally assaulted at a local cafe and refused service based on a review I had written two years prior. I have never had anything like this happen, and was totally shocked. One of the owners, who yelled at me for a good ten minutes, seemed most upset about two things: First, that I had written my review after he had been open for only three weeks, and second, that I had posted a picture of my son frowning in his restaurant. He didn't want to listen to what I had to say, so I will say it here.
There used to be a rule that newspapers would not review a restaurant until they had been open for three months. Well, the internet changed that, didn't it? These days it almost seems like there is a race to get to a restaurant and be the first one to review it. I am definitely guilty of this. I get excited when new places open, especially if there is a lot of buzz about them.
When I go to a new restaurant, I definitely take their newness into consideration and do my best to give a fair review. (I try to be fair in all of my reviews!) I have been known to offer criticism, but especially in the case of new restaurants, I try to make it constructive. There is a comments section after each post for people, including owners, to express their own opinions, or question mine. My email address (firstname.lastname@example.org) is also in my profile.
As for the picture of Satchel frowning over his lunch, well, all I can say is, "It isn't about YOU." Kids are moody and they don't always like their food. Sometimes dining with kids sucks. End of story.
I'm not out to get anyone. I'm just a writer and a mother who enjoys dining out. If you think I'm being unfair, or if you have something to say, feel free to say it here, or email me. I definitely prefer that to being torn a new asshole in public.
I hope that those of you who have found my reviews useful will continue to read and enjoy this blog.