What is the purpose of restaurant reviews? Are they educational, are they guideposts, directions and stop signs along the culinary causeway? I am utterly confused with the justified means of restaurant reviewing. For one what do the stars mean anymore...it appears nothing. Yes nothing.
And the funny thing is I and many others are concerned with the receipt of stars and positive commentary. The allocation of stars makes or breaks many restaurants. Restaurants go to great lengths to uncover reviewers while reviewers go to great lengths to keep their anonymity. What are we doing? Dining and cooking is supposed to be an incredible experience. There are levels of these experiences; a dirty water dog on streets of New York is not normally measured against a dining procession at Per Se. Yet these two experiences are instantly weighed, measured, and a calculated opinion is created based on the experience using the same scale.
One aspect of dining that is often overlooked is that of learning. Everything plays a role in the education of a diner--from decor to service, from the food to the bathrooms. And the great aspect of learning while dining is that it takes place both through osmosis and through interaction. Every individual's experience is different, past knowledge and memories all vary from each other.
Dining reviews and the stars awarded restaurants may provided an out look for your day--similar to daily horoscope readings--though the actual experience of dining is based on each guest and an interaction with the restaurant. Dining at restaurants is an experience on all levels, and we must search for a better means to express these experiences to the dining public. It is great that there are food critics with newspapers that publish their opinions, as well as critical eaters that self publish electronically via the internet. What is needed is a means to weave these two types of critiques together in order to present the dining experience to readers so that they may make an informed decision.
If not, back to the stars. (Do restaurants have astrological signs?)