On The Path to Better Scoring – The Scorer’s Dilemma
Scoring is, arguably, a necessary evil. Do without it, and you have no form of objective comparison. However, bringing an objectivity-based system into the inherently subjective milieu of restaurant reviewing is at best, an incessant work in progress. By scoring, I’ll always, always be challenged on the validity of my system.
While I (and nobody else) can never fully remove circumstantial and experiential biases from such a system, I can at least ensure one fundamental requirement of any such system – reliability. It is with this in mind that I have developed the scoring system below, effective as of 12 November 2014.
The Scoring System
Instead of an overall score, sub-scores on the food, the service, and ambiance/decor are provided. Food is out of 10 possible points, service 5, and ambiance 3. This is reflective of my own personal views towards dining at a restaurant – the best service and decor in the world will not make up for a paltry plate.
As fine dining can’t necessarily be compared to say, street food, it is paramount to keep in mind that scores are realistically only comparable across similar categories dining. A hawker stall can share an 8/10 with a fine dining establishment – despite their obvious differences. Please use discretion when comparing the type of establishment – this is where the words in the post come in.
F10 – Idealised perfection; impossible to achieve
F9 – Almost every dish is consistently flawless (or nearly so) and is fully suited to my palate
F8 – Very impressive cuisine, a standout among restaurants of its class. The kind of restaurant I would harp on about when talking with friends
F7 – Worthy of being a local favourite, without being groundbreaking or requiring hyperbolic language. Issues exist, but are forgivable
F6 – Good food, but with multiple niggles that shouldn’t be there for the class of experience
F5 – What most people call “it’s ok”. Not bad, not great. Not the kind of place I’d be willing to return to as there’s better options elsewhere
F4 – I’m finding more problems than compliments here
F3 – I didn’t finish it (this is a big deal for those who know me – I always finish my food as long as I’m physically able)
F2 – The food either metaphorically or literally made me sick (or both!)
F1 – Is this score even possible?
Most of the time, service should be at a 3/4, with fine dining experiences expected to be a 4/5. Lower scores indicate there were non-trivial issues with service.
S5 – Superlative, flawless service. Staff go the extra mile (instances elaborated upon in the post)
S4 – Very good service, the smallest of nitpicks. The default score if the service is fully satisfactory
S3 – Average service, maybe a hiccup or two here or there
S2 – Staff are dropping the ball a fair bit e.g. getting orders wrong, forgetting orders, waiting forever to get a drink refill etc.
S1 – Rude/non-existent service. Service that makes me very uncomfortable and want to leave the restaurant
N/A – street food vendors need not apply
Ambience is not weighted highly – most establishments have a fine ambience that suits what their business is trying to be. I expect most places to score 2, with fine dining nudging 3.
A3 – Opulence, as if I’m in a palace or a truly cutting-edge/innovative space
A2 – Within my expectations of the establishment
A1 – Where’s my cutlery? Where’s my napkins? I’m too close to the tables next to me! Where’s the heater/aircon?
The final Caesar score is through a combination of the above three subscores. It is calculated as ((F+S+A)/18)*10 to give it the final score (rounded to the nearest 0.5). Half scores are possible when I’m on the fence, and feel like either giving the benefit of the doubt…or not.
This scoring system is not perfect. Like a score of 10/10, such a system does not exist.
BUT WAIT! What about posts where The Usual Disclaimer applies? In these cases, take the score with a grain of salt. I’m a huge advocate of disclosure, so it’s up to you to decide whether I’m affected by bias or not. But put it another way – would I really care to butter up a restaurant if I didn’t like them, given that I wouldn’t want to return anyway?
As always, it’s advised you read the post’s content if you’re truly interested in what I think. No score can capture that.
P.S. I’m happy to solicit any constructive feedback on this page regarding the scoring system.