How Many Stars?

“Where do you want eat?”
“This place looks good.”
“Did you check their reviews? How many stars do they have?”

Most of us use online reviews to help us decide what products to buy and where to eat and who to use for services and which apps to download and which movies to rent and so on and so on.

Should we expect the public to have the same opinion we have about food? What do you do when reviews let you down?

Yesterday my husband and I escaped our routine lives for an overnight getaway. We didn’t go far, just far enough to make it legit, a little over an hour’s drive down the raceway they call highway 71.

We had based our destination on a recommendation from a friend, a review you might say.

Our friend and his wife had tried a couple of different restaurants in this little town so we looked them up and checked the reviews . We picked the one that sounded good based on the menu and what other customers said about the service and food. Things did not go as expected.

Somehow we had gotten the wrong idea about this place. Both of us were under the impression that this restaurant was located ON the river. As in right next to it or even hanging over it, with a view . But as you can see in my photos , you can barely see the river due to the overgrown trees and the distance.

The restaurant is at the deck on the right . The river is hidden behind the trees on the left.

Neighbors is a popular place despite the lack of an actual river view, and there was a hour long wait for a table outside, so we decided to just go for a walk by the river and decide where to eat later. The weather was the kind that Texans know exists, but don’t often get to experience, perfect cool temperatures and perfect low humidity.

Here’s the restaurant’s website. You can see why we thought it was a river view.

Notice that if you leave a review you are entered into a $500 drawing…
This is kinda accurate if you consider the “banks” of the river to be 50 yards away.
The restaurant from the view of the river walk .

What do you think ? Is that “on the banks of the river”? You can’t really see in the photos , but the view of the river is obstructed by trees. Would you be disappointed with this view? It’s still very nice, but not what we expected.

My handsome husband was able to walk the trail and climb the stairs back up ! We are so thankful he’s recovering from Covid!

The Bastrop river walk review was accurate and was well worth the trip! I love trees and walking along a river. Unfortunately there’s a ton of bamboo and other bushes growing along the bank which makes it hard to see the river . But we did see birds and turtles.

The river walk is a half mile long concrete path that runs along the river from one park to another park, in the close vicinity of many restaurants and touristy shops. Yesterday it was crowded with runners and walkers and tourists enjoying the fall weather.

As we were walking , I stopped to take a photo. A friendly lady saw me and stopped to chat with my husband about birds and photography. We ended up having a wonderful conversation about the local birding community. Since she lived there, we asked her where she liked to eat and she recommended two barbecue restaurants and a Mexican restaurant.

We decided to try one of the barbecue joints that the nice lady liked. It was located about 10 minutes down the highway. Sadly, when we arrived we discovered that Covid had put them out of business. So we made a U-turn and got back on the highway.

Google maps offered a list of other barbecue places and we chose this one, Longhorn Barbecue, based on the reviews and photos . 4.7 Stars.

My plated looked nothing like this one. The sides were served in tiny plastic cups and there was no moisture in the meat.

Sadly, we must have come on a bad day because the brisket was tough and dry and the sides were not good. The ranch beans had a weird flavor like they had tried to make them gourmet and the potato salad was bland. Also the sausage was not of the quality we are used to. We live in an area with many local sausage makers and we expect good sausage.

I must admit that we did eat all the food because it was too expensive to waste and we were very hungry . My sadness over the brisket prevented me from remembering to take a photo of the food, sorry.

The person in charge, not sure if he was the owner or manager, came by to ask how we liked everything. I was honestly very disappointed, so I said “It’s kinda dry.” He seemed surprised and he asked if I would like something else instead. I said no, thank you, mainly because I didn’t really see anything else I wanted . I felt bad for telling him the truth. But I really wanted to say “This is the worst brisket I’ve had in a long time!”.

So this brings me to my question. “Do I leave a bad review?” . Do I let people know the truth or give the place a break ? It’s a small place . I don’t want to kill their business. Maybe it was just a bad day. What would you do? It seems like online reviews can make or break a business.

Many people won’t even consider a product or business that has very few reviews or a couple of bad ones. Will you?

Here’s the thing. I am spoiled. My husband smokes a mean brisket so we are used to eating tender, juicy, perfectly sliced, smoky tasting meat. Is it fair to expect this from a restaurant?

My husband made this 😋

The system isn’t perfect and there are plenty of fake reviews available, but in general I find reviews helpful. It’s always a gamble when we go out to eat and, with the employee shortages , the service is even less likely to be perfect. And buying barbecue is always risky because not everyone knows how to smoke a brisket .

In any case, we will not be eating at Longhorn Barbecue again. We may go back and try the other place “on the river” someday .

We still had a wonderful getaway and we didn’t let the bad brisket ruin our day.

We also took a little trip to Monument Hill, a Texas state historic site and trail that we have visited many times. It is the location of a tomb of soldiers that were unjustly executed, as well as a house and the ruins of a brewery built from rocks in the mid 1800s by a German named Heinrich Kreische.

The scenic trail goes down a big hill and then back up which was a challenge for my husband, but he did it ! We loved being back on the trail together and look forward to doing longer hikes as he regains his strength.

Hope you enjoy the photos!

This praying mantis was doing a funny walk
The monument to the massacred soldiers.
The Kreische house.


  1. I’m so pleased your hubby is getting his strength back! We are such good cooks, we’re spoiled too and don’t go out to eat much. Here where I live it’s all lockdowns and vax passports, so they wouldn’t let us in anyway. We did leave the county and go to a Wendy’s a few weeks ago. I’m laughing, the food was pretty bad, but the freedom to walk into the building and see smiling faces was pretty priceless!

    • I’m very thankful to live in Texas . We may have some issues , but we are all about freedom. I’m glad you got a taste of it. I heard Wendy’s has new fries? We don’t really expect good food from a fast food place, do we ? 😁

  2. I”m just coming off of a 3 week run in with COVID myself. Didn’t get it as bad as your hubby but it still totally kicked my butt. Especially the fever at night and general mental fog and weakness. So I am very happy the two of you could get a mini get- away. Read about the brisket…we just butchered 1/2 a beef,,,locker asked if I wanted the brisket (I have no idea on how to cook it, so probably going to my son -in law…the thing is over 2 feet wide and 16 inches tall (couple of inches thick on one side…it is humungous. IF we lived locally, I would give it to your hubby… Good to catch up a little on your life PK, Later! DM

  3. Any time John wants to drop some brisket off in Kentucky, he (and you) are welcome. After all, I feel partly responsible for his health since I prayed foe him . . . unless God adds demerits for pride! 😱😂😂
    ❤️&🙏, c.a.

  4. I don’t leave bad reviews unless a business totally ticks me off. Telling the manager the food wasn’t quite up to par is a better approach. Although… you are right that we all use those stars to decide where to eat.

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