The problem with stars
our paragraphs don't quite jibe with the rating. We critics see it as a simplistic system. In The Sun's ratings, at least for restaurants, one star is "poor," two is "fair or uneven," three is "good" and four is "excellent."
I happen to be the one who decided their meanings, with a little help from my editor, back when we first started using stars. I have no one else to blame when I think to myself, How can two restaurants get the same number of stars for food (two) when one is uniformly mediocre and the other has some really great dishes and some really bad ones?
And then what does "excellent" mean? I eat a lot of excellent meals -- OK, some excellent meals -- but shouldn't four stars be reserved for "fabulous"?
Once, I'm embarrassed to admit, I said in a review of the Oregon Grille that "the service couldn't be better" and then assigned the service three-and-a-half stars. A reader was quick to point out the contradiction.
On the other hand, more than once I've been glad for the shorthand. I don't have a lot of space for my reviews, so if there's nothing interesting to say about the service, if the waitress hasn't spilled soup in my lap, then I'm just as glad to assign the stars and be done with it.
Please let me know below whether you prefer reviews with stars. I know they can be misleading, but they are a good quick guide.