N&O’s Restaurant Reviews Move to 5-Star Rating System

Greg Cox, the News & Observer’s restaurant critic, announced in his “Chew on This!” column today that he’s moving to a 5-star rating system. Was this a case of grade compression making it difficult to distinguish the differences between restaurants? Why not a 30 point system, as with Zagat? Or a 100 point one, just like our schools use?

Seriously, though, I don’t care what numeric system a reviewer uses, as long as he or she is consistent. I don’t always agree with Cox’s assessment, but he does a pretty darned good job, particularly for a city and paper of this size.

Meanwhile, Cox also brags about the N&O’s new restaurant website, which is, quite frankly, not ready for prime time. First, there is a problem with duplicate listings. Frazier’s, South and Fins have more than one listing.

Although the geographic scope of the restaurant database has been expanded, as has the number of cuisine types that can be searched, you no longer can search based on the ratings. Moreover, the search results do not list the ratings of the restaurant; you have to click on each listing to find out what Greg Cox thought of the place. I think this is a nice start, but if you’re going to tell the world about your new 5-star rating system, I would like a fairly simple way to determine what are the top-rated restaurants. And by the way, it appears that Cox’s previous 4-star restaurants have all been elevated to 5-star status. Those being

  • Nana’s
  • Fins
  • Magnolia Grill
  • Four Square
  • Bonne Soiree
  • Bloomsbury Bistro

I may have missed others. For the most part, it appears Cox merely added another star to each previous rating, but that’s not always the case. For example, Enoteca Vin, Jujube, J. Betski’s, Herons and Rue Cler each got a 1 star bump. A place like The Big Easy made only a half-star jump to two stars. I’m thinking that the biggest impact the expanded 5-star rating system will have will be on the lower-rated restaurants. It’ll have to be pretty damn bad to get only one star now.

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7 Responses to N&O’s Restaurant Reviews Move to 5-Star Rating System

  1. allison says:

    I tried using the N&O’s new website a few weeks ago for movies (movies.triangle.com no longer works) and it definitely left a lot to be desired. The old site might have been simple, but in a easy to use and read Google kind of way. Movies listed by theater, city and title and you can click on any. I am pretty net savvy and I couldn’t deal with it and went to Fandango and I will probably never go back. It seems like a not better version of Citysearch, which I always hated as well… I just don’t think McDonalds needs to be listed under American restaurants.

  2. Varmint says:

    But McDonald’s is the quintessential American restaurant!!!

    I’m sure the N&O will work out some of these kinks, and that’s why they need this type of feedback.

  3. Probono says:

    Grumpy old fart!

  4. detlefchef says:

    They also need to update their restaurant listings in the Friday magazine. All the older spots still have their out-of-four-stars ratings.

  5. Mark Lindsay says:

    Your review of London Fish & Chips was pretty much on the mark. I have made six return trips to this popular restaurant. Each time the store has been closed . I hope they have not gone out of business! Do you know why they are not open?

  6. Varmint says:

    Methinks you have this site confused with another, as I’ve never been to London Fish & Chips. I’ve been meaning to try it, but I’ve also heard about it being closed too frequently.

  7. VaNC says:

    I know the Fish and Chip place has only been doing limited lunch hours lately. I also know it is for sale: http://www.bizbuysell.com/listing-information-q352628.html.

    My Brit friends who rely on this place are concerned by this………………

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