27/06/2021: I no longer score reviews. This is something I’ve grappled with for awhile now, the conclusion being that it’s difficult to reduce restaurant visits to a set of numbers. Journalists that make multiple visits to the same restaurant have a better case in assigning numerical scores, which is something I would not be able to reliably do when a post will often go up after just one or two visits. Needless to say, I do not have the bandwidth to visit a mininum of three times prior to posting – some things are better left to the experts ?.
On The Path to Better Scoring – The Scorer’s Dilemma
Scoring is a necessary evil. Do without it, and you have no form of objective comparison. However, bringing objectively assessing an inherently subjective topic is in and of itself, paradoxical. By scoring, I’ll always be inviting challenge.
So be it.
While no one can ever fully remove circumstantial and experiential biases in scoring, I can at least strive for the fundamental requirement of reliability, which manifests as consistency. It is with this in mind that I have developed the scoring system below, which took effect on 12 November 2014.
The Scoring System
The overall score is an average of three sub-scores: food, service, and ambiance/decor. Food is out of 10 possible points, service 5, and ambiance 3. This is reflective of my own priorities when it comes towards assessing a dining experience – the best service and decor in the world will not make up for a paltry plate.
Naturally, scores aren’t necessarily comparable across restaurant categorisations. A 4/5 service score for a fine diner isn’t going to be based off the same criteria as a 4/5 score for a food truck. It is paramount to keep in mind that scores are realistically only comparable across similar categories of dining. With that said, I have tried to keep score definitions as abstract as possible, while at the same time imposing my own assumptions on the criteria would be required to achieve a certain score for a certain restaurant type. For example, I don’t expect a food truck to provide table service, but a fine dining restaurant that asks me to get my own water will score much more poorly.
F10 – Idealised perfection; impossible to achieve
F9 – World-class food. Deserving of international recognition. Should be on many, many ‘lists’ (and obviously my own!)
F8 – Very impressive, a standout among restaurants of its class. Probably among the best of its type in the city
F7 – What might be considered ‘the local favourite’, or a few standout dishes, even if other issues become evident when casting a critical eye.
F6 – Acceptable, but uninspiring eats, ‘good’ in the truest sense of the word. I wouldn’t necessarily be hankering to go back.
F5 – A below-average experience that isn’t worth writing about anywhere or to anyone.
F4 – I would question the kitchen’s ability to nail basic techniques.
F3 – I won’t finish the food for reasons beyond stomach capacity.
F2 – Either metaphorically or literally capable of inducing sickness
F1 – I don’t even know what this would look like.
S5 – Superlative, flawless service. Staff go the extra mile (instances elaborated upon in the post)
S4 – The default score if the service is fully satisfactory as expected of the restaurant type
S3 – Mediocre service with noticeable issues
S2 – Lots of blunders, miscalculations, or unpleasant attitudes
S1 – Non-existent service. Or alternatively, service that makes me very uncomfortable to the point of wanting to leave the restaurant early
A3 – Opulent, or incredibly thoughtful/suited to the restaurant’s intended vision for the experience on offer
A2 – Suited for the establishment and functional, but nothing particularly notable
A1 – Obvious faults (tables too close together, no aircon when the place really needs it, incredibly loud music etc.)
The final ‘Caesar’ score 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 decide to give the benefit of the doubt…or not.
This scoring system is not perfect. Like a 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 still going to be truthful to myself in posting honest scores, but please feel free to err on the side of caution and not bother trusting me at all. I’m a huge advocate of disclosure, so it’s up to you to decide whether or not I’ve been compromised.
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.