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Restaurant Girl's Ratings, WTF?

Since she debuted as the New York Daily News restaurant critic last year, Danyelle Freeman (a/k/a “Restaurant Girl”) has taken plenty of flak. In a recent interview, Robert Sietsema, the Village Voice’s veteran critic, ripped into her:

[New York Daily News]

I think she was thrust into a very important position without having a lot of experience and perhaps chosen for extraneous reasons. Her writing has been improving, but still she seems to take an a priori, frivolous attitude towards the material. And the fact that she did choose to be recognized is, to me, like, really horrible… I presume that part of her being non-anonymous is that she goes into a restaurant under her own name, flashes her cleavage, and they just bring her free food.

You could fill a book with her tortured prose, like this howler in her review of Dovetail: “The rosy fish, grilled à la plancha, is exhilarated by a creamy horseradish gribiche (egg and mustard sauce) and bursts of caviar.” The fish was exhilarated? Actually, I thought the poor fish would rather still be swimming.

Fully alive to the problem, Freeman has the fix: she’s changed her rating system to a best-of-five stars, replacing the former best-of-four. I believe it happened just this week, with three-of-five for Elettaria. She’s also gone back and revised her old reviews retroactively—only the stars; not the grammar. That Dovetail review, formerly 3-of-4, is now 4-of-5.

Her old scale allowed half-stars, but it seems the new one does not. Merkato 55 is a winner, rounded up to 3-of-5 from 2½-of-4. South Gate is a loser, rounded down to 1-of-5 from 1½-of-4. Most perplexing is Adour, which she didn’t seem to like, but which gets the benefit of rounding to 3-of-5 from 2½-of-4.

We weren’t expecting to revise our star-system roundup quite this quickly. But revise it we will.

Update: RG explained to Eater.com: “The New York Daily News has newly implemented a five star rating system for all critical reviews (theater, movies, restaurants,) thus eliminating half stars…I have adjusted my system accordingly as well as readjusted all formerly filed reviews to the new system in order to maintain consistency.”

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Reader Comments (3)

hi. actually 2.5/4 = 62.5% and 3/5 = 60% so merkato loses too.

April 23, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterolee

Mathematically, you’re right. But the average person loses sight of the math, and 3 stars sounds better than 2½.

We don’t have a long track record with RG, but people talk of Bruni’s and Platt’s ratings as if they’re comparable, despite the fact that Bruni tops out at four stars, and Platt goes up to five.

With that in mind, I’m sure the Merkato folks are happy with their three stars. That was what I meant.

April 23, 2008 | Registered CommenterMarc Shepherd

She said in yesterday's piece that Todd English is British. So she's a dumbass to boot.

October 22, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterJosh

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