Monday, February 04, 2013

N.Y. Times Changes Rating System (Again) for Suburban Restaurants

When "Don't Miss" Was Anything But

For those of you scoring at home, The New York Times has tweaked how it rates suburban restaurants in its Sunday Metropolitan section.

Gone are the four categories of Don't Bother (never saw one of those in Westchester), O.K. (every now and then), Worth It (more often than not) and Don't Miss (if only).

Instead, we now have five possibilities to digest, the more prosaic "Poor, Fair, Good, Very Good and Excellent." In other words, back to where we were. Which is actually a good thing.

At least dining in Westchester, where most of my meals outside of the city are taken, there needs to be more of a distinction between "Worth It" restaurants and "Don't Miss," which should be akin to transcendent and memorable for all the right reasons. If "Don't Miss," was not quite the equivalent of a four-star rating in the Dining Section on Wednesday, it should come pretty damn close.

Unfortunately, there are virtually no restaurants in Westchester that can even aspire to fitting that category, with the exception of Blue Hill at Stone Barns, consistently one of my favorite dining experiences anywhere.

Many other famed Westchester eateries, among them Le Panetiere, and the Bedford Post Inn, are overpriced pretenders rather than contenders. That doesn't mean to say you can't get a great meal in the county. But most of the better restaurants fall into the "very good" category, sometimes verging on excellent without quite getting there.

Hence, my thumbs-up for the new ratings, which will also allow reviewers to avoid severely overpraising restaurants, as Emily DeNitto shamefully did when she reviewed Hudson at Haymount House in July. The restaurant no doubt filled more tables than it deserved to because of the breathless review. We took the bait in large part because of the write-up. Instead, we encountered shoddy service, small portions and high prices. You can read my Trip Advisor review of Haymount House here.

Suffice to say, the words "Don't Miss" are absent.

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