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Dec 3, 2006 05:32 PM

Is there any point to Toronto Life's ratings?

Grumpy from a mediocre at best meal last night at Quince and not having much to do this Sunday afternoon I did a bit of an analysis of this month's TL ratings. Of the 29 starred restaurants, 27 fell between 2 and a half and 3 and a half stars, with 16 getting 3 stars. In other words almost all the restaurants are getting more or less the same rating even though most of us know there are fairly large actual differences between similarly rated restaurants. For example I recently ate at Kultura (3 stars) and it was pretty bad, whereas Celestin (3 stars) is consistently quite good. My conclusion is that TL is for whatever reason not really interested in providing readers a way to discriminate among restaurants and that the star system is a sham and might as well be dropped.

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  1. Perhaps they're not so interested in making money and not pissing off restaurant owners instead of rating them......

    Any other thoughts?

    1. My personal opinion is that James Chatto has decided he wants to do more "food writing" then resaurant reviewing. So now the reviewing falls to inexperienced people. Which is fine but not as reliable as it might have been in the past when one person was doing the reviewing. But I stopped reading TL about a year ago and have not gone back so I am not sure what is going on now.

      1. Toronto Life has never had much credibility in its reviews as it looks to the restaurants it lists to advertise.

        1. I tend to agree. A few years back one restuarant went from 3 stars to one star back to 3 stars in the course of one year with no substantial change in food, service or decor.

          In their pandering to readers who demand to be kept up to the minute in new restaurant openings I think they are too quick to review. Kultura recieving 3 stars barely 2 months after opening (and given the lead time for publication they must have reviewed it very soon after opening) is a little premature in my book. Anyone involved in restaurant operations will tell you that it takes at leat 3 to 6 months for a place to find its legs. Reviewing a restaurant before that is doing a dis-service to both the reader and the restaurant.

          1. Don't forget. The reviewers didn't review your meals; they ordered their very own food and rated the meal on that experience, not yours. :-)

            5 Replies
            1. re: Full tummy

              Is that not the case with all reviews though, not just Toronto Life?

              - Lea

              1. re: Canada Eats

                It's an inherent problem with reviewing and then asking for advertising dollars. Ultimately, if it can't be done with some level of objectivity and some level of ability in the reviewer, it probably shouldn't be done at all...

                1. re: kawarthagirl

                  Are you actually suggesting the reviewers at Toronto Life are influenced by the advertising?