Restaurant Category and Rating System – updated

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Rating System
*****: Exceptional
-****: Excellent
–***: Good
—**: Average (bordering on mediocre)
—-*: Below Average (mediocre bordering
on bad)
—–: Don’t eat here!

—$: Level 1 Slow (low end chain
restaurant or non-collocated fast ethnic)
–$$: Level 2 Slow (medium end chain
-$$$: Level 3 Slow (medium-high end
$$$$: Level 4 Slow (high-end restaurant)

Recently, I decided to put together a “star”-based rating system so that my readers can immediately determine whether or not a restaurant in the restaurantEats category is worth considering. However, like venerable Michelin, I feel that restaurants need to be categorized because they should be compared with their peers. For instance, one cannot and should not compare restaurants specialized in serving different ethnic foods. One also cannot and should not compare fast food with fine dining.

Further, I leveraged the Bryan Lambert(BL) restaurant classification system. In it, he breaks down the food service industry according to speed (fast or slow) and genre. It follows:

  • LEVEL ONE FAST: Cheap. Greasy. Traditional. (McDonalds, Burger King, Taco Bell, Kentucky Fried Chicken)
  • LEVEL TWO FAST: Counter-service ?meal replacement? (Boston Market, Chipotle, Punch?s, Baja Sol.) The ingredient quality is a notch above Level One, as are the prices.
  • LEVEL TWO POINT FIVE FAST: Counter Service ordering and paying, but they bring the food to you. Wild Noodles, Noodles & Company.
  • LEVEL ONE SLOW: Applebees, TGI Fridays, Ruby Tuesdays
  • LEVEL TWO SLOW: Expensive chains (PF Changs, Cheesecake Factory)
  • LEVEL THREE SLOW: Real restaurant.
  • LEVEL FOUR SLOW: Real restaurant where you drop a wad.

Source: Piratenews.net

Accordingly, Levels One, Two, and Two Point Five Fast restaurants will be excluded. They are already sequestered to their own categories of the foodiePrints blog, either fastFood or foodCourtEats respectively. Please note that restaurants like “Toss it Up“, which has been recently reviewed by Ottawa Citizen food columnist Ron Eade, fall into the foodCourtEats category. However, Level 2 or 2.5 Fast ethnic restaurants, that are not collocated in a food court, will not. This includes Lebanese Shawarma houses. Notations follow:

  • Level Two and Two Point Five Fast Ethnic: —$
  • Level One Slow: —$ (Denny’s, Kelsey’s, Swiss Chalet, St. Hubert)
  • Level Two Slow: –$$ (Milestones, Keg, Outback)
  • Level Three Slow: -$$$ (real restaurant)
  • Level Four Slow: $$$$ (high-end expensive restaurant)

The remaining restaurant (BL) levels will then be sorted according to the following geographic-based taxonomy, creating categories.:
Ethnic Asian:

  • Chinese
  • Thai
  • Vietnamese
  • Laotian
  • Pakistani
  • Indian

Ethnic European:

  • British
  • French
  • Italian
  • Spanish

Ethnic Mediterranean:

  • Greek
  • Portuguese

Ethnic Middle-Eastern:

  • Istanbouli
  • Lebanese

Ethnic Central American:

  • Caribbean

Ethnic South American:

  • Brazilian
  • Argentine
  • Chilean

Ethnic North American:

  • Aboriginal

Domestic North American:

  • American Diner


  • Combination of any of the above…

The michelin system awards a total of 3 stars per category. One star is given for a “very good restaurant in its category.” Two, “excellent cooking, worth a detour.” Three, “exceptional cuisine, worth a special journey.”

foodiePrints is not michelin. Our star system is based on five stars. It follows:

  • Five Stars (*****): The restaurant’s food and service are exceptional. Its front of house staff seems almost telepathic. Its kitchen staff works fetes of magic. The restaurant is worth a trek over treacherous terrain, risking being hunted by local wildlife. For context, please note that I’m Canadian. There are sometime wolves or bears in the woods.
  • Four Stars (-****): The restaurant’s food and service are excellent. Eating there feels like you are its only patrons. Its food should be praised and discussed amongst friends and colleagues. The restaurant is worth a special trip out.
  • Three Stars (–***): The restaurant’s food and service are good. The restaurant is worth a detour, so long as it is on the way.
  • Two Stars (—**): The restaurant, its service, and its food are average, bordering on mediocre, but it has the potential to redeem itself. The restaurant is a good candidate for an episode of Gordon Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares.
  • One Star (—-*): The restaurant requires more help that an hour long national television show can provide. Its food is mediocre, bordering on bad. Its service is either non-existent or somewhat offensive. Patrons have to wait as the kitchen “hatches the chickens”, “mills the wheat”, or “catches the fish” for their dishes.
  • No Stars (—–): The restaurant should be avoided at all costs. Eating there would be a severe lapse in judgment. That is, unless you want to give your gastroenterologist a challenge.

Initially, I considered an integer-based star system, but my readers may deem minus two stars (-**) a typo. There are enough typos here. No need to create more.

Please note that existing restaurant write-ups will not be updated to include stars. They are grandfathered. Stars apply to new write-ups.

Toss It Up
208 Sparks Street, at Bank

Filed in: restaurants

Mild-mannered IT professional by day and food blogger by night, I founded foodiePrints with a single intention, to share my love of all things food. My first post shared a recipe. Many followed. Eventually, I learned Ottawa prepares and serves great food. Thereafter, I started meeting restaurateurs, chefs, cooks, farmers, and other local producers, all good people. Ideas for food-related content swirled in my head. foodiePrints grew into a place to put them. From exploring foreign and domestic cuisines to shopping for exotic ingredients and cobbling together my takes on dishes in my meager kitchen, there are stories to tell. Welcome to foodiePrints. Here, you will find stories about food and drink, cooking, and eating in Canada’s capital. Be it food-related or just food-for-thought, I hope you find something tasty here.