We have been debating how best to handle restaurant ratings on All In for a long time. We nearly launched a rather complex and novel system in late '05  that addressed the issue of directly comparing very different experiences [/edit], but I never quite came to terms with some of the specifics. Becks & Posh's new system inspired me to pick up the project again. We've finally agreed that adoping a simple and familiar rating notation makes sense. And, as an individual reviewer, it may be better to paint in broad strokes. We will be using a 5 star rating system on All In, as follows:
Bad These terms are intentionally generic. A rating should reflect some intersection of the quality of ingredients and preparation, presentation, service, ambiance, value, expectations, and more (though not all of those factors are always relevant). There are absolutely things that are better about the best multi-course meal than street food or casual fare. If that weren't true, why pay many times the price? That makes it hard to compare individual attributes. However, all types of food and restaurants can induce wonderful feelings, pleasant surprise, and even awe. (You may notice that not everything in our Best Foods list comes from a fancy restaurant.) Rather than trying to ignore the inherently subjective nature of judging the way the elements of a meal come together, we have decided instead to embrace our feelings about how everything comes together as a whole and capture them in words and, for brevity and clarity, stars. Clarity, you ask? Sometimes details can obsure the big picture -- look to the stars for a summation.You may also notice that there are no degrees of bad in this scale. I don't often write about places that are bad, unless they are truly awful, in which case I don't want to give them any stars at all. It seems a bit cruel to call out by just how much a place doesn't make the grade. (In school, there is no F-.) As such, you will see 0 stars for a place that we would never recommend and we'll leave it at that. [/edit]Since I sometimes like to share initial impressions of a place without the authority of multiple visits and there are places that I love that don't necessarily have outstanding food, you'll also see one of the following symbols for the number of times one or both of us have eaten at a restaurant:
As part of this process, I've revamped the restaurant reviews index as the new All In :: Restaurant Guide, which includes ratings for several restaurants we haven't actually gotten around to reviewing here. Our list of Restaurants to Try has also gotten too long as we've crossed many off over time, so spots we've tried will be moved over to the Restaurant Guide. There are many ratings and reviews to add, so check back for updates over the next few days.  Ratings may also change with additional visits - additional experiences and dates will be noted. [/edit]We're still considering adding some additional details and want to make the ratings, reviews, and lists and useful as possible. Thoughts and suggestions welcome!