Bill Addison, New Critic for DMN [moved from Texas board]
Read all three of his first reviews and have to say I'm disappointed. In my opinion, the problem with DMN has always been their inconsistent rating system. Perfect examples are Fireside Pies in Plano with 4 stars or Coal Vines with 3 1/2. Compare that to Mercury, Aurora, Al Biernets, and 2900 that all have 4 stars. Are you really saying Fireside Pies is equivalent to these other restaurants? Ridiculous. Now, if the idea is to say they are a 4 star PIZZA place, that's fine. But they only have one rating system and I can tell you this screwy system is the single most irritating thing to every chef I know, as well it should be.
After reading his resume, I had hope although this appears to be far and away his biggest dining critic gig to date. First he explains they are revising the star system where there are no more 1/2's. I realize some other cities do that so that in and of itself is not problematic, although their explanation that it was done for simplicity is a little odd. I don't know anyone that struggled with understanding that 4 1/2 stars was better than 4 but not quite worthy of 5 stars.
So the 3 reviews were Bob's, Aurora, and York St. They all received 4 stars, and both Aurora and York St were a "downgrade" from their previous 5 and 4 1/2 respectively. I don't necessarily have a problem with Aurora and York St being 4 stars. I can say I've definitely had 5 star meals at Aurora, on par with the meal I had at French Laundry and Trotters. But I can agree it is not on that level consistently. Honestly, I think these 2 restaurants are perfect examples of the need for 1/2 stars. My problem on the 3 reviews is Bobs. Now, if there were a Steakhouse Only category, I'd personally give Bob's 10 stars. But, to compare a restaurant like Bobs that doesn't even have a chef to 2 award winning, chef driven, nationally acclaimed restaurants is beyond ridiculous. He also mentions a sommelier at Bob's, which they don't have. They have a mgr who knows more about wine than the others. On top of that, he only ate at these restaurants one time (apparently DMN's revisit policy is just 1 visit allowed and, even though he is new here, they wouldn't change that). Hard to understand how you can truly evaluate a restaurant with 1 visit (in the book Garlic and Sapphires, Ruth Reichl said her policy was 5 visits).
I emailed him basically what I wrote above and he responded today. Basically said he appreciated the email, didn't think York or Aurora was 5 star worthy and he had a memorable 4 star-esque meal at Bob's. Disappointing.
I read the Bill Addison intro this week, too. Here's the link if anyone is interested:
I am concerned about the simplification of the ratings system. Without half stars, the ratings are so limited. I fear the stars will mean nothing more than:
1 star - This food is an abomination and may kill you. I couldn't find any 1 star ratings on Guidelive.
2 stars - This restaurant is a low-end chain or sports bar
3 stars - This restaurant is inexpensive and casual with edible food.
4 stars - This restaurant is very good and mortals can afford it.
5 stars - This restaurant is very expensive, i.e. "opulent"
What I'm getting at is that the stars, especially in their future dumbed-down state, are just an approximate function of price. They really don't tell me anything as a reader.
ieatdallas, you have valid points. I want to give Addison time to get comfortable and I like his writing style but I think he has already started to blow it with his new rating system.
Fine to get rid of the half stars, but how does a steakhouse with lackluster desserts and a mediocre veal chop (his review) rate at the level of two restaurants doing food at considerably higher levels of sophistication and complexity? Granted, there were service issues with Aurora, but imo there is no accurate rating system or reviewer that would give York St. and Bob's an equal aggregate rating. Confusing and muddled.