Michael Bauer gets a lot of email, and one can imagine that a fair amount of it is devoted to second-guessing his star ratings, which are often hard to parse and can seem, at turns, arbitrary. Thus, once or twice a year, he likes to give everyone a peek behind the curtain and re-justify and re-explain the Chronicle's rating system (see the last instance here). Today he does so again, after last week's review roundup on the Scoop reminded us that he's only doled out one three-star review to a new restaurant opened in 2011 (Nojo), two if you include this past Sunday's review of the reinvented Petite Syrah in Santa Rosa.
He acknowledges that a lot of restaurants get two and two and a half stars (earning him the nickname Mikey Two-Stars), and once again complains that he'd love to do away with the star system altogether, but readers tend to like it. Also he admits that some highly incomparable restaurants can notch the same star ratings (see his reviews of Saison and Mamacita by way of example), but warns, "The ratings need to be seen in the context of price and intent." We'd argue such contextualizing is lost on many, but anyway. We all admit the system is imperfect. Moving on...
Trying to make star ratings work [Between Meals/Scoop]
Earlier: Looking Back on the First Half of 2011 Bauer Restaurant Reviews [Scoop]