Restaurant rating

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Restaurant ratings identify restaurants according to their quality, using notations such as stars or other symbols, or numbers. Stars are a familiar and popular symbol, with ratings of one to four or five stars commonly used. Ratings appear in guide books as well as in the media, typically in newspapers, lifestyle magazines and webzines. Websites featuring consumer-written reviews and ratings are increasingly popular, but are far less reliable.[1]

In addition, there are ratings given by public health agencies rating the level of sanitation practiced by an establishment.

Restaurant guides[edit]

One of the most well known guides is the Michelin series which award one to three stars to restaurants they perceive to be of high culinary merit. One star indicates a "very good restaurant"; two stars indicate a place "worth a detour"; three stars means "exceptional cuisine, worth a special journey".

Several bigger newspapers employ restaurant critics and publish online dining guides for the cities they serve, such as the Irish Independent for Irish restaurants.

List of restaurant guides[edit]


Name Working area Type of rating Method
Michelin Guide Worldwide 1 to 3 stars Professional inspectors
The Good Food Guide United Kingdom Rating out of 10 Inspections by correspondents
Harden's United Kingdom Rating out of 5 Annual survey
Gault Millau Europe 1 to 20 points Inspectors of local agents
Le Cordon Bleu France  ?  ?
Egon Ronay's Guide (last published 2005) Ireland and United Kingdom 1 to 3 stars Inspectors
Gambero Rosso Italy and San Marino 1 to 3 forks  ?
La Liste Worldwide Ranking Proprietary algorithm


Name Working area Type of rating Method
Michelin Guide New York, Chicago and San Francisco 1 to 3 stars Professional inspectors
Gayot/Gault Millau United States 1 to 20 points Inspectors of local agents
Forbes Travel Guide United States 1 to 5 stars Professionals, consumers, and self-reporting by hotels, restaurants, and spas
American Automobile Association United States 1 to 5 diamonds AAA employees hired specifically to rate hotels
Zagat United States 30 point scale Public reviews


Name Working area Type of rating Method
Miele Guide Asia  ?  ?
Kingfisher Explocity Food Guide[2] India Inspectors

Internet restaurant review sites have empowered regular people to generate non-expert reviews. This has sparked criticism from restaurant establishments about the non-editorial, non-professional critiques. Those reviews can be falsified or faked.[1][3]

Rating criteria[edit]

The different guides have their own criteria. Not every guide looks behind the scenes or decorum. Others look particularly sharply to value for money. This is why a restaurant can be missing in one guide, while mentioned in another. Because the guides work independently, it is possible to have simultaneous multiple recognitions.[4][5][6][7][8]

Ratings impact[edit]

A top restaurant rating can mean success or failure for a restaurant, particularly when bestowed by influential sources like Michelin. Still, a good rating is not enough for economic success and many Michelin starred and/or highly rated restaurants have met the same fate as the Dutch restaurant De Swaen.

In 2004, Michelin came under fire after bipolar chef Bernard Loiseau committed suicide after he was rumoured to be in danger of losing one of his three stars. However, the Michelin guide had stated he would not be downgraded. Most news reports attributed his suicide to the downgrade carried out by the rival Gault Millau guide.


Many countries have a system of checks and inspections in place for sanitation. Only a few countries, amongst others the United States and Canada, create and publish restaurant ratings based on this. However, the whole of the United Kingdom is covered - as is Denmark.[citation needed]

Los Angeles[edit]

In 1997, a KCBS-TV sweeps news story called Behind The Kitchen Door focused attention on problems in Los Angeles's top restaurants. The station used hidden cameras to catch restaurant employees practicing unsafe food handling practices such as picking up food from the floor and re-serving it, vermin crawling near food to be served, or mixing uncooked meat and vegetables.[citation needed] The report also reviewed inspection reports, which have always been public but were available only on request and required a personal visit to the health department, and found that many problems were already noted in the inspection reports but were not adequately publicized.[citation needed]

Following this report, Los Angeles County, with the Board of Supervisors, introduced a letter grading system already in use for some years in California's San Diego County and Riverside County. Instead of only listing violations in a report, the restaurant inspection system was changed to a standardized scale ranking with a certain number of points deducted for each violation. Letter grades were required to be prominently posted at all establishments selling food, and all establishments were required to provide a copy of the inspection to any customer on request. Grades are available at the County Public Health Department's web site.[9]

These ratings are given on a numerical scale, with 100 being a perfect score and points deducted for each violation, such as keeping food at the wrong temperature, Cockroach/vermin/rodent infestation, failure to use certified equipment, or improper food storage. From that, a letter grade is often assigned.[citation needed]

Two Stanford University economics researchers found that higher lettered restaurants scored a rise in revenue, while lower lettered restaurants have seen their revenues decline. The quality of restaurants in the entire county became more acceptable, with the average score going up from about 75% to nearly 90% in the year after restaurant grading was implemented. The researchers concluded that the results were not explained solely by consumers switching to higher quality restaurants, and that some of the effect had to do with restaurants making changes due to grade cards.[10][11] Another study estimated a 13.1% reduction in hospitalization for food borne illnesses in the year following implementation of the program, suggesting that implementing a restaurant grading program could improve public safety.[12]

See also[edit]