Is it the food, the ambiance, the service, or a combination of all three—or is there something more? Food writer and blogger Catherine of Food Musings poses this question in a thought-provoking post.

Catherine makes some interesting points: Taste in “good food” is subjective; people are more willing to forgive bad food than bad service; there are different versions of what people want in their dinner service. But at the end of the day, there is something more that makes us love our favorite restaurants.

The usual review touches on three topics: food, service, ambiance. But, like umami—the “secret” fifth taste (after sweet, salty, bitter and sour) that is usually described as “savory”—there is another sense that I think is always considered, though rarely stated, and that is the feeling you get from a restaurant. That feeling is not just the sum of the food, service and ambiance; it is its own score. It is also, in my opinion, the most important yardstick by which a restaurant is judged.

Seeing as I continue to adore a restaurant I ate in over a decade ago—and I don’t even remember what I ate there—I think she may be on to something.

What makes you love your favorite restaurants?

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