Edit ModuleShow Tags

DeRushaEats: What Does a Four Star Rating Mean to You?


Published:

In the chef/critic world, much helvetica has been spilled writing about critics' scores. Do four stars mean perfection? Do Minnesota critics score on a curve? So would four stars here mean the same as four stars in New York?

In case you haven't been reading the back-and-forth on this, it started with Stewart "Shefzilla" Woodman mocking a high score on MSP Mag's "restaurant rater" for the new Heartland.

“It just got a 97 points, they are clearly operating at an extraordinarily high level, at least as high as Le Bernardin or Alinea, I, we have gotta get there. 97 points is nearly flawless, there are not two 97 points, their is only one."

Andrew Zimmern responded, essentially telling Shefzilla to chilla out.

"I don’t think Heartland is in Alinea’s class, as Stew wonders out loud, and numerically codifying restaurants is indeed troubling on many levels."

Then Stewart writes again, complaining that the average Star Tribune star ratings of MSP restaurants is higher than the average NYT reviews.

Lenny Russo then gets involved.

"So does a four star review intend to say that a restaurant is perfect? I think not since perfection is an unattainable goal. To be sure, the standard is perfection, and I go to the restaurant every day with the expectation that we will be perfect."

I'm getting dizzy from all of this.

Anyway, I raise the issue here because I'm lucky enough to not have to attach a letter grade or a score to my suburban dining reviews. In print, I'm not trying to compare a suburban restaurant like BLVD or Nectar to a city restaurant. I live in Maple Grove. I can tell you that most of my neighbors are not deciding whether to go to Pittsburgh Blue or La Belle Vie. I believe people want to know if there are dishes they should order when they go to a restaurant relatively close to their home.

It would be impossible to put a grade on a suburban dining review and have that next to one of Dara's reviews of our city/finer-dining restaurants. Well, I could, but you'd see a lot of C grades, right? And how useful is that?

When I see a four-star review in the paper, it tells me: definitely check this place out. When I see three-and-a-half stars it says: check this place out. When I see three stars, I think: probably check this place out. That's it.

Do you pay that much attention to stars? Who do you think the critic should serve, the fine dining foodies or the average reader looking for a recommendation?

P.S. Not sure if this is a good or awful time to mention that readers can now give the restaurants in MNMO's online database a star rating... But so be it. You can.

Edit ModuleShow Tags

About This Blog

Minnesota Monthly's Taste Blog answers your restaurant and dining questions, dishes on latest discoveries, reflects on breaking news, and generally brings the plate to the page with a skilled crew of experts: Learn more about the Taste bloggers.

Have a food-related question? Email rhutton@mnmo.com

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

More »Taste Blog

Pineapple in Every Bite Upside-Down Cake Recipe

Enjoy this twist on the classic cake with chunks of sweet, juicy pineapple maximizing the fruit-to-cake ratio in every taste

3 Drinks to Give Winter the Kiss-Off

West Seventh in St. Paul is bursting with drink options to usher in spring (which is just around the corner, right?)

Minnesota-Grown Greens Now Available Year Round

New locally and sustainably produced Revol Greens makes eating clean and green throughout the year even easier

What to Buy for the Perfect Minnesota Home Bar

From vodka, gin, bourbon, rum, and beyond: Minnesota spirit-makers recommend the best home-bar companions

Quick Moroccan Chicken over Couscous Recipe

Enjoy the exotic flavors of a long-simmered tagine in this easy version that’s quick enough for a weeknight

No-Fail Caramel Corn Recipe

Celebrate National Caramel Corn Day with this sweet crunchy treat—no special equipment needed with this easy recipe

Best Restaurant Bargains Before A Target Field Minnesota Twins Game

They're offering baseball specials, but do you know where to go? Check out these good deals on food before Twins games.

3 Things to Eat This Week: April 4-8

Tropical cake, drinkable flowers, and some mouth-searing spice

Edina Bistro Celebrates National Peanut Butter & Jelly Day

Pinstripes offers a sophisticated twist on the childhood favorite with a five-course meal for two in honor of PB&J Day (April 2)
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags