Want To Be A Restaurant Reviewer? Enter And Win A Prize

Or maybe you like the idea of a free meal for 2 with wine and cocktails at Tapa in Leith, the Tom Eats! Restaurant of the Year in 2023? Yes, for once we are offering a real prize, not just a year's free subscription. All you have to do is to pen a review of a place where you've eaten in the last three months.

I can already hear your brain working. How hard can it be? After all, Johnston's been churning them out for the best part of a decade. True indeed, so why not give it a bash? A few tips, if I may make so bold.

At times the food is an incidental. If you're lucky it may be outstanding: if you're luckier still it may be beyond awful. It's a sad fact that it's easier (and much more fun) to write about a complete stinker of an experience. Cathartic too, as you feel the flames coming through your fingers and on to the keyboard, and you remember all the choice put downs you should have used at the time. Most dining experiences, however, fall into the middle, generally at the upper end. In this country overall standards are very high indeed.

Don't be boring. It really doesn't matter who had the prawn cocktail. I was once on a course run by the great Jay Rayner. His first piece of advice was sobering. Remember, he intoned gravely, that no one has to read a word you write. Ever. But there are simple hints as well. Try to avoid using the same adjectives. Very often you won't be aware you're doing it. That's why I always leave a draft for 24 hours and come back to it the following morning. Cliches are best avoided, but familiar phrases can be effective if you can stand them on their head. For example people often say that they took to something like a duck to water: I took to retirement like a duck to orange sauce. The word delicious is one for which there is rarely space. A fine enough word, but just too easy. If you catch me using it, alert me, and I'll go and shut my ears in the oven door.

At one time in my life I used to let visiting reviewers away with exclamation marks. Now they are likely to be edited out altogether. If you are saying something sensationally clever or witty, your readers will have sufficient brain to get it, without your trying to highlight your own brilliance.

OK, so you fancy throwing your fork into your bowl? Entries by email please (address below), no later than 17.00 on 20 March 2024, together with a picture of yourself. Photos of the venue you have reviewed are welcome, but not essential. To maintain absolute fairness, I will not be judging this. By entering you are handing over the right to publish your words of wisdom in Tom Eats! Ah, the words. Length isn't that vital, somewhere between 500 and 800, please. And the other rule is that you must use my scoring system, which you'll find at the top of the Tom Eats! home page. So if I find you scoring a greasy spoon cafe at 9/10 for food, I'll know you haven't been paying attention. A full list of the Ts & Cs is set out below. Please read carefully before submitting your article.


  1. Entries will be judged by Daniel Shearon of Tapa, and the winner notified by email.
  2. Employees of Tapa and relatives of its owners or of the editor of Tom Eats! are not eligible to enter.
  3. Entries must be submitted by email in Word format to tgj52a@outlook.com to reach us no later than 17.00 on 20 March 2024.
  4. The prize for the best article will be a voucher for a meal for two plus wine and cocktails at Tapa.
  5. The voucher will expire 12 months after the date of issue.
  6. Entries should be between 500 and 800 words, and must use the Tom Eats! scoring system.
  7. They must specify the name and address of the place reviewed and date of visit.
  8. Reviews must contain the minimum and maximum prices of each course available (not just what you ate).
  9. By entering you permit Tom Eats! to publish the review, and to make minor changes at the editor's discretion.
  10. All entrants will be added as subscribers to Tom's Food! to receive notifications of future blogs. This can be unsubscribed at any time.
  11. The judge's decision will be final and no correspondence will be entered into.



  1. Paul on 20th March 2024 at 5:39 pm

    Literally just seen this competition. It’s 17.38 on deadline day. Bugger!

    • Tom Johnston on 20th March 2024 at 10:16 pm

      Well, the lesson is to read Tom’s Food! assiduously three times a week. Feel free to submit a guest review any time. The prize might be lunch at 52A.

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