Restaurant Reviews: The Criteria For A New Jersey Restaurant Review

New Jersey Restaurant Reviews

Discover how Our New Jersey restaurant reviews are created and rated

Restaurant Ratings are Based on a 4 Star System

1/2 Star - Poor. Not recommended This is considered to be unsatisfactory and should be avoided.

1 Star - Average or mediocre. Has not achieved a level above other similar restaurants in its class.

2 Stars - Above Average.  A good restaurant, above most restaurants in its class.

3 Stars -  An excellent restaurant, usually a destination worth the extra distance to travel to.

4 Stars  - Best in Class. An exceptional rating given to the top restaurant in its class and geographic area.

The Criteria Used to Weight or Rate a Restaurant

Food Quality

The Executive Chef - The Executive Chef and his/her talents and ability to control the food ingredients and sourcing.
The chef's qualifications and experience including the chef's formal culinary education and where and who they honed their culinary skills under.
Also, does the chef have any industry wide acclaimed credentials that are setting a high bar for others to aspire to.

Quality of ingredients - The source of ingredients used in menu preparation. High value is placed on the use of fresh farm to table seasonal ingredients or from sustainable agriculture systems and methods. Value is also given to the use of rare or uncommon ingredients not readily available in supermarkets.

Food Preparation - Does the food preparation respect the quality of the ingredients. When quality ingredients are used, do they shine through the preparation or are inferior ingredients enhanced with the use of heavy sauces?

The level of originality - Does the menu reflect originality and the chefs unique style?

Restaurant Management

Service - Based on the hostess, sommelier, wait staff and" bus staffs". Are they well trained, polished, welcoming, anticipatory, and knowledgeable? if wine is served, do they have a non-pretentious sommelier that is knowledgeable and helpful.

Ambiance/Decor - Reflects an investment in a restaurants concept, attractiveness, scenic views, etc., and in updating and maintaining a clean and fresh look

Amenities - Table presentations, rest rooms, bar service, parking, and more.

Our reviews are aimed at upscale New Jersey restaurants

Restaurant consumer posting platforms, such as Yelp, etc., do a decent job with one & two star restaurants, where consumers tend to post short, cursory, anecdotal comments about a one nights experience. The downside is that these reviews are posted by people who aren't culinary experts. High volume chain restaurants, and lower tiered restaurants tend to dominate the reviews.

With over 20,000 restaurants in New Jersey, it would be an impossible task to stay abreast, and create an informative, in-depth analysis of a large number of restaurants.

As of January 1, 2022, we will no longer publish reviews on lower tier (lower than 2-stars) restaurants.

With the pandemic having a profound negative impact on restaurants, we no longer can stay abreast of the myriad of changes taking place. This is especially the case with lower end restaurants who are finding it difficult to survive. More importantly, publishing poor reviews will only serve to pile onto the troubles these restaurants are having in their struggle to survive!

Going forward, our focus will be on high end, popular upscale restaurants.
The categories of these restaurants include:
Chef-Inspired Fine Dining, Chef-Inspired Casual Dining, and Upscale Contemporary Casual restaurants.

The Three Most Popular Upscale Restaurant Classifications

Chef-Inspired Fine Dining:

  • "Old World" with sophisticated and romantic décor.
  • Very expensive.  Priced higher to cover the cost of the added amenities.
  • They are chef driven by chefs with impressive credentials including formal culinary education and skills honed at award winning restaurants.
  • Committed to high quality food ingredients such as imported items not available in the supermarket, with emphasis on local seasonal farm-to-table produce, wild caught seafood, & meats without the use of antibiotics and growth hormones.
  • The wait staff is rigorously trained --- professional, knowledgeable, and attentive.
  • Has an alcohol menu with high end wines and specialty cocktails and with a staff knowledgeable in wine pairings.
  • Additional amenities include linen and fine China table settings, carpeted flooring, chandeliers, and complimentary amuse-bouche, dessert chocolates, etc.
  • Patrons tend to be older, more formally dressed, with high incomes.

Chef-Inspired Casual Dining:

  • The current trend of upscale, high quality food focused restaurants.
  • They are chef driven by chefs with impressive credentials including formal culinary education and skills honed at award winning restaurants.
  • Serves an approachable, more casual menu with creative food preparation.
  • Uses higher quality food ingredients such as imported items not available in the supermarket, with emphasis on local seasonal farm-to-table produce, wild caught seafood, & meats without the use of antibiotics and growth hormones.
  • Chic, trendy ambiance with a casual atmosphere and a casual dress code.
  • The wait staff is professional, knowledgeable, and attentive.
  • Can be BYOB or have an alcohol menu with a variety of wines, specialty cocktails, and beers.
  • Patrons are all generations with medium to high incomes.

Upscale Contemporary Casual:

  • Ambiance is trendy, chic with Instagram-worthy decor.
  • Upscale, yet with a casual atmosphere and a casual dress code.
  • Has an approachable, more casual menu.
  • Not regarded as chef driven. Chefs credentials, though competent, tend not to be highly acclaimed or trend setters.
  • Has a large alcohol menu with a large variety of lower – medium priced specialty cocktails, imported and craft beers, and wines. Centerpiece is often an attractive bar and lounge setting with a vibrant crowd.
  • Table service tends to be less professional than other upscale restaurants with staff having a limited knowledge of menu items, though friendly and attentive.
  • Patrons tend to be Millennials and post-Millennial Gen Z.

Why restaurant owners and dining patrons are
apt to disagree with our analysis and reviews?

It must be acknowledged that dining patrons, based on personal preferences, tend to have specific views what constitutes a quality, average, or poor restaurant. If their mind set and experience doesn't fall in line with our review/analysis, then they are likely to disagree. This is to be expected.

It is not uncommon for restaurant owners to disagree with our restaurant reviews. This is certainly understandable. However, this is a service for our viewers who seek a brief summary based on an independent analysis of a restaurants performance.

Many of these restaurant owners also say that they don't take much stock in restaurant reviews. For the most part, they are correct. They shouldn't rely on a review from just one restaurant critic, or a review from a popular diner comment driven restaurant review site. Despite this, they are quick to put up the plaques at the entrance of their restaurant that provide favorable commentary from either a single restaurant critic or popular restaurant review site, even though the review maybe dated, (from past chefs and management) or is not arrived through a careful analysis of what the savvy dining public has to say.

Reviews should be taken as informed opinion

While we attempt to do extensive research and analysis to ensure the most objective and representative review of a restaurant, often times we consider input from restaurant patrons, restaurant management, PR firms, and other sources that may have a stake in the game. Similar to movie and book critics, our reviews should be taken as informed opinion and not fact.