Food Rating System
Any food rating system is controversial. The most famous is the Michelin Guide, which rates restaurants for comfort and also for food via the coveted Michelin Stars. A one star Michelin restaurant is likely to be very fine indeed, while three stars (the best) is an accolade handed out only to a few dozen restaurants in the world each year. However, this system leaves the vast majority of places untouched, and Michelin is ultra sensitive to the commercial consequences of its accolades. Hence it tends to be slow to dish out stars and even slower to take them away. This suits chefs fine (which is why chefs love the Michelin, provided they get a star of course) but makes it difficult for consumers, as it is not possible to tell whether a 1 star establishment is just on the brink of a wonderful two stars or actually should have long since lost its star.
The system I have adopted is the one used in the Good Food Guide, the best of the UK restaurant guides. Unlike many other guides, the Good Food Guide has an inspection system (so is not just a popularity poll that can easily be influenced by unscrupulous restaurateurs) and accepts no hospitality, hidden fees or advertising. Its inspectors are completely anonymous. This means that, while it may make mistakes, they are honest ones rather than due to some hidden commercial interest. The Good Food Guide has tried scoring out of 20, and out of 5, but has settled on a simple out of 10 system. It should be said that 1/10, which sounds dreadful in a school report, is actually fine in Good Food Guide terms. It means that the restaurant is in the top 1% of restaurants in the UK. 5/10 or 6/10 is roughly equivalent to 1 Michelin star, 7/10 or 8/10 to two Michelin stars, and 9/10 or 10/10 to three Michelin stars. A system that really reflected reality in terms of the relative positioning of all restaurants would start at 991/1000 for a 1/10, a 995/1000 for a 4/10 and proceeding to 1000/1000 for a 10/10 in Good Food Guide terms. This would seem rather cumbersome and suggest a level of precision that is unreasonable, so I have stuck to the simple out of 10 system. I considered also rating service and ambiance, which for many people are at least as important as food, but since this is often down to personal taste (one person’s “romantic” is someone else’s “tacky”) I decided against. Instead I note particularly attractive settings or unusually good service in the notes.
The marks I have used are based on this system but are my own, and may or may not coincide with other guides, including the Good Food Guide at any given point in time (the Good Food Guide is updated annually – I update this site at least weekly).
Since people often ask about certain restaurants that have now closed, I have retained on the site such places with their notes but marked them with a prominent "RIP" message and a score reset to zero; I note the old score when it was actually open in the text. The full rating descriptions are:
"1/10 Capable cooking, with simple food combinations and clear flavours, but some inconsistencies"
"2/10 Decent cooking, displaying good technical skills and interesting combinations and flavours. Occasional inconsistencies"
"3/10 Good cooking, showing sound technical skills and using quality ingredients"
"4/10 Dedicated, focused approach to cooking, good classical skills and high quality ingredients"
"5/10 Exact cooking techniques and a degree of ambition; showing balance and depth of flavour in dishes, while using quality ingredients"
"6/10 Exemplary cooking skills, innovative ideas, impeccable ingredients and an element of excitement"
"7/10 High level of ambition and individuality, attention to the smallest detail, accurate and vibrant dishes"
"8/10 A kitchen cooking at or close to the top of its game - highly individual, showing faultless technique and impressive artistry in dishes that are perfectly balanced for flavour, combination and texture. There is little room for disappointment here."
"9/10" This mark is for cooking that has reached a pinnacle of achievement, making it a hugely memorable experience for the diner"
"10/10. It is extremely rare that a restaurant can achieve perfect dishes on a consistent basis".