Review Criteria

It is very difficult to be completely objective when reviewing a restaurant.  Enjoyment depends on so much more than simply the food and the service.  The mood you’re in, the people you’re with, and even the weather influences your perception.

Having said that, you’ll be glad to know that I’m normally in a good mood, I normally eat out with friends, and it’s normally nice weather in Sydney, so I’ll be as objective as I can.

The style of restaurant should also be taken into account.  It’s not fair to judge a café serving breakfast on the same scale as a fine dining restaurant specialising in degustation menus.  SF☆ uses seperate scales for fine dining restaurants and other more informal restaurants and cafés, in an attempt to avoid the situation which frequently occurs on user-generated review sites such as Eatability where the local Fish & Chip shop or Thai take-out can score more highly than Tetsuya’s.

The SF☆ Restaurant Scale

There is a useful scale when assessing and evaluating wine designed by the University of California at Davis called the UC Davis 20 Point System which awards points for a wine’s colour, acidity, aroma, flavour and so on.  The SF☆ Restaurant Scale attempts to emulate this sort of system, but remember that I’m just one person who sometimes takes other people’s opinions on board and sometimes doesn’t, whereas the wine systems rely on averaging the scores of many wine judges.

F: Food – 7 points:
Quality of Ingredients – 2 points.
Presentation – 2 points.
Flavour and Taste – 2 points.
Menu – 1 point.

W: Wine & Drinks  – 4 points:
Range of list – 1 point.
Value – 1 point.
Sommelier/Advice – 1½ points.
Inclusion of regional wine – ½ point.

S: Service – 4 points:
Friendly – 1 point.
Knowledgable – 1 point.
Same Staff throughout – 1 point
Attentive but not pushy  – 1 point

A: Ambience & Environment – 3 points:
Bathrooms – ½ point.
Place settings, cutlery & glassware – ½ point.
Chairs, Tables & Furniture – ½ point.
Lighting – ½ point.
Views or other features – 1 point.

X: Je ne sais quoi / X-Factor – 2 points:
The unknown factor that differentiates a true star from a merely great restaurant. Awarded for a truly amazing experience which is greater than the sum of the criteria above.

The SF☆ Café Scale

Cafés and more casual restaurants can’t really be judged in quite the same way as fine dining restaurants. Instead I give them a grade, A+ to D-.

A: Superb experience, I’d become a regular if I was in the area.
B: Great experience, I’d go back once a month or so if I was in the area.
C: OK experience. I wouldn’t necessarily choose to go back, and would probably try somewhere else instead.
D: Poor experience. Definitely wouldn’t go back.

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