The restaurant list in the PREVIOUS POST is current and constantly evolving. I update and edit the original list rather than posting additional modifications as the restaurant scene evolves daily around us. Each set of definitions contains a general list of items–some concrete and some very subjective. A restaurant is not required to fulfill all of the criteria presented to gain my given grade–high OR low. Sometimes only one or two items are required so solidify my opinion. The astute eye will notice a handful of restaurants on the list which have closed(*). These establishments were benchmarks in the local dining community and their inclusion on the list is not an oversight.
◊ This restaurant exhibits deplorable standards in food-quality and service. There are flaws from initial entry through exit which defy logical restaurant criteria. Mis-management or a general oblivion to common-sense flow or procedure is rife. Food is inedible. This is an unpleasant dining experience for anyone who appreciates real dining.
♦ A bit below average, but not necessarily a ‘bad’ restaurant. Cleanliness of facilities and/or appearance of staff possibly wanting. Service is too-friendly, clumsy and unprepared–showing a general aversion to professionalism. Menu is poorly prepared and contains generalizations or outright errors. Beverage service is second-thought or straight down a sales rep’s ‘book’. Poor timing–typically very rushed–perpetrated by a flow of staff unrelated to your table. Food-quality sub-par and dishes erroneously prepared or poorly conceived or just miserably safe. Staff somewhat unconcerned with a diner’s expectations or desires. A general EAT-EM-UP attitude towards the food and the clientele makes this a restaurant you will visit again only out of necessity. This is not a horrible establishment–and it will turn up time-after-time on BEST-OF lists merely because a large group of people have dining standards on par with the image–and service–this restaurant exemplifies. This is ‘Tourist-Food’ or reasonably satisfying lunch-time fare.
♦♦ This restaurant meets expectations for a normal to somewhat above-average restaurant and will please a wide variety of dining styles and personalities. Timing is reasonable; Cleanliness average; Staff performs at a level appropriate with the style of restaurant and expectations of their managers and attend to their duties in serviceable fashion with a minimum of annoyances. All menu items are roughly as-promised and quality of food and preparation is edible, if not completely satisfying. Beverage service and selection is adequate. The large majority of diners will find a restaurant at this level completely fulfills all of their expectations for a dining experience and many will list a restaurant at this level in their ‘Favorites’. A restaurant at this level should be perfectly happy about itself. This is a pleasant dining experience.
♦♦♦ Something Better. This is a restaurant which fires on all cylinders and gets a far-above-average number of things right. This establishment shows a clear and obvious interest in serving the finest quality food and beverages to their clientele and doing so in a clean, organized, and courteous fashion while not at the expense of personality. This restaurant hires professional wait staff and/or trains them in classic service. Timing is not awkward and service not hurried. Menu is thoughtful and balanced with quality and presentation held to the highest mark, from ingredient-source through plate-clearing. Staff is appropriately dressed, knowledgeable of menu items and dish preparation, and handle themselves with poise and grace. They anticipate but do not hover. Management is visible. The depth of the wine list indicates an active interest in wine by at least one staff member and represents a broad spectrum of styles–this DOES NOT mean it has to be a huge list. Menu items arrive at table and immediately begin exceeding expectations. Presentation is perfect, and the original wait-person presides at the serving. Dishes are as described and flavor-integration is concise and seamless. Classics are spot-on or better, and haute-cuisine shows not only imagination, but inspiration. Bussing is succinct and discrete. This restaurant exceeds across-the-board at a high level and creates a wonderful and satisfying dining experience.
♦♦♦♦ This restaurant presents a rare dining experience which approaches ‘perfect’ and requires a level of quality and service seldom seen. A variety of extremely ambiguous criteria are involved and most of it has to do with how the restaurant MAKES ME FEEL.