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Jun 6, 2014 02:13 PM

Perhaps scoring the restaurants on a 1 - 10 scale is not a good idea?

With apologies to JT, whose website I have perused many times in planning my trips to Paris . . . and who is certainly free to do whatever he pleases with his restaurant rankings!

But I have a concern that many people come to this site to seek out the "best" - - - and putting aside the issues surrounding that quest, a numerical rating system plays right into that mind-set. Then you add the new mathematically derived ratings for the food excellence/price equation, and it gets more convoluted. It begins to feel like Robert Parker's wine ratings . . . "Oh, that wine must not be as good as this one, since it only scored an 88 . . ." And given that many of JT's ratings appear based on one visit to the restaurant in question, it skews everything out of proportion. One dish that is a bit too salty; perhaps the noise at the next table was a little too high . . . and the rating then suffers unduly as a result. But mostly I feel that this could quickly devolve into a chase for the best numbers, which throws everything else out the window. It just feels a little too reductionist for me. I love the photos; I love the descriptions; I didn't even mind the ratings on JT's site . . . . but the more I started to think about institutionalizing the "scoring" aspect of all this, the less I liked it. My 2 cents.

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  1. I agree - there are far too many variables to distill into a numerical rating. I tend to rate the ones I visit as: will return, may return, and will never darken it's door again. The may return category is for those times things didn't go quite right, a bad dish, noisy fellow diners etc. So sensible to give a second chance - although if I do revisit I often find it's a mistake!

    1. As you point out, John's photos and menu descriptions are invaluable. But with any blog or food writing, you have to wash out the subjectivity. Rather than pay attention to anyone's ratings, I ask myself, "Is this food I want to eat? Is this a scene I want to visit."

      I thank John for keeping a steady stream of options coming. It's a tough job but someone has to do it. ;)

      1 Reply
      1. re: mangeur

        I have enjoyed very good food many times based on JT's advice. However, I have never tried to rate his recommended spots or dissect how he arrived where he did. My conclusion,based on good experience, is that if JT recommends the place, the food is worth the price and better than restaurants others recommended or that we stumbled into on our own.

        And, I agree with mangeur's "Is this food I want to eat? Is this a scene I want to visit."

      2. My "quest" for a 5.5 + comfort was not numerical, it was conceptual.....and, I believe that JT's "numbers" when looked at subjectively along with his comments is highly valid. A number need not be empirical; but more of a "relationship tool" in regard to how it is perceived.

        6 Replies
        1. re: VegasGourmet

          Exactly what I have long been preaching. Read and reread and find your guru. It's kindred sensibilities that count, not numbers, something that JT alluded to today on another thread.

          1. re: VegasGourmet

            I'm not sure what you mean by looking at numbers "subjectively" . . . . To me, and I'd suggest to most of us, the numbers are an attempt to quantify the meal/experience, again, much like Robert Parker has managed to quantify the world of wine. And to then take the "food ratings" from 1 - 10, and multiply them by the price to get the "value index" score, and then to actually rank the restos in order of their "value" - - - to me, we're just moving farther and farther away from subjectivity and "relational criteria" (whatever they are) that are so important. Again, not a condemnation of JT's website, which I've highly enjoyed . . . . but more a question of, is this the direction that CH is seemingly headed in, and is it a good thing?

            1. re: bauskern

              In no way is Chowhound heading this way. We are discussing just one thread that offers an ordered ranking, and that only of restaurants visited in the last 6 months. It falls in the category of frequently proposed requests for "bests". A list arrived at often from single tastings. A good point of departure and your mileage may vary. The same as with any other subjective and unscientific survey.

              One more time, and with passion, you have to calibrate your taste with any critic, Michelin or otherwise.

              1. re: mangeur

                JT is a great, funny guy who loves to eat and is helpful in nature. Why can't people think of his rating system as that and nothing but that ? Why all this parsing ? Why not go through his garbage like Bob Dylan's ?

                I sometimes agree, other times disagree with JT. as I do with several other regulars on this board, - am thinking of Pti, Souphie, Jake, Theresa, DaTulip. And JT. I "follow" them in that I have read them enough to rely on their consistency and also to incorporate their individual refractions. And no one provides an ambiance&"application" guide as well as Parn the social anthropologist, who is detailed and informative not just about a given restaurant, but what time of the day to go, and with whom. That, you can't get from any guide.
                If any hound takes one of them as his guru, his Moses into the Red Sea of Paris, then find his/her ratingproblematic, duh.

                Yesterday I had a most enjoyable time with the man who is venerated by many on this board and followed biblically by some. (Yes, I might have touched his sleeve, woohoo.) When I arrived - at a geezer early-bird hour, - already I announced that I had not expected to eat that well but was looking forward to an uproarious, loud, pesky few hours of fantastic good time. And it was just that. I wouldn't trade that for a 4-hour worship in some solemln food temple.

                Yes, for me JT is a reliably enjoyable dining companion. He is not my Dalai Lama of a no-fail dining experience.

                One area, though, in which he is 100% reliable: he's a pest magnet. Whichever restaurant that he he says he likes, count on lots of pests swarming it, including those restaurants he says that are pest-free.
                How o how do I say this to a man I like so much ? John, you are no Moses, you are no Dalai Lama, but you may be a kind of King Midas.

                  1. re: Parigi

                    And you are fun to be with too, whatever the food.