Inspired by Andy Hayler’s great website ( www.andyhayler.com ) I will give an overall rating for the restaurants as well as try to give a score for each dish when I feel I can. If I read a review, I simply find it much easier to tell how much the reviewer likes something from a number on a scale as opposed to words like “good”, “nice, “great” and so on.
Unlike Hayler I’m not using the British Good Food Guide’s scale but my own simple 1-10 scale. I will often use half-scores to give a more precise score.
10: Simply one of the best dishes I’ve ever had. As close to perfection as possible.
9: Spectacular. Almost perfect.
8 or 8.5: Very good
7 or 7.5: Good (and I do mean good, not just okay)
6: Okay. A bit above average.
4: Nothing special. Slightly below average.
2: Really bad.
Dishes that has no flavour tends to land a 5 or maybe a 4.
Most often I don’t score snacks/nibbles, as I find them quite difficult to score as that’s usually what they simply are – snacks.
If you work out an average score of all the dishes in a meal, it might be less or more than the overall vote as other factors than the food affect the overall rating.
As you can see from my reviews, some of them are written from memory, and then I usually don’t give scores for each dish but just an overall rating.
My reviews mainly focus on whether I liked that particular dish or not, and if it was cooked properly or not.
Although I’m not a professional critic, I trust my palate. I know what I like, and I can easily tell if the food is cooked properly or not, or if it lacks balance.
The grades really reflect how the food makes me feel. Does it make me feel blissful and like I’m in heaven? Or does it make me indifferent or even feel disgusted?
I’m not trying to be objective in any way – on the contrary almost. There’s nothing worse than reviews that attempt objectivity. “The singer hit all the notes, was entertaining and talkative between songs, and the band had clearly attempted to play these instruments before, so the concert deserves a 10/10”. But what do YOU actually think? Did it enchant you, bore you, mildly amuse you, crack you up? What did it make you FEEL?
And seriously, wouldn’t it be a bit silly only to grade according to how well the food is cooked technically and not how much you like it? It’s reasonable to assume that in a Michelin starred place, the cooking will be either completely perfect or at least close to perfect. If you look only at the capabilities of the cooking, every restaurant like that would get a score of 9 or 10.
The food is always by far the most important thing in my evaluation. I mostly go to very good restaurants, and there you hardly ever see problems with the service, so I comment less on the service. But if the service was poor it will affect the score.
The price will also affect the score, but this is probably the smallest factor in my evaluations. Therefore, a three star Michelin restaurant might have the same score as a cheap and simple restaurant.
There are certain things I simply don’t like. Sardines/anchovies, intestines, coffee (except for in a few combinations), oysters, clams/mussels and corn spring to mind, but there are of course other things too. I seriously feel physically ill when I eat oysters or clams. In general I don’t like or very sour or bitter things (except for chocolate).
Obviously, I try to avoid things I don’t like. I see no point in ordering an oyster dish when I know that I won’t like it. The point is to have a meal I will enjoy, not one I will criticise.
Seasoning is critical in a meal. In Spain some people tend to prefer as little seasoning as possible (or none even), which I simply don’t understand. I find seasoning to be like putting makeup on a woman’s face. If you add just the right amount, her natural beauty will shine through even more so than before and make you even more enamoured with her. If she puts on too much makeup, you can barely look at her.
So, seasoning/makeup is very important. Anybody who has eaten potatoes cooked without salt will know what I mean.