Critic Critique


With the launch of The Age Good Food Guide (AGFG) 2011 just a few months away,  I begin to hope that they overhaul (or more appropriately, fix) the method in which their restaurant rankings are calculated.

The AGFG ranking system is significantly different from the most revered guide in the world, The Michelin Guide; and I am not simply talking about Hat’s (AGFG) vs. Stars (Michelin).

The AGFG gives Hat’s out based on a score out of 20. A score of 15 – 15.5 rewards a restaurant with One Chef Hat. A score of 16 – 17.5 awards Two Chef’s Hats. A score of 18 or above awards the full Three Chef’s Hats.

This all sounds well and good, however, the score out of 20 is not purely based on food. Hang on a minute…isn’t the title of the guide The Age Good Food Guide?

The AGFG ranking system for 2010 has 5 categories. The maximum points for each category are defined as:

  • Food: 8
  • Wine and Wine Service: 3
  • Overall Service: 4
  • Atmosphere, Personality, and Comfort: 3
  • Value: 2

8 points out of 20 for food. Eight. Out of 20. For The Age Good Food Guide. It just doesn’t make any sense.

Whilst I agree that it’s nice to know about the service levels and value of a restaurant, I simply can’t understand why they outweigh the food ranking – and by so much. Without even cooking anything, a restaurant could obtain 12 points. That means they could get One Chef’s Hat for food that is ranked below average (3 out of 8). Or Two Chef’s Hat’s for average food (4 out of 8).

Let’s compare this to Michelin’s ranking system:

Michelin stars are based on five criteria:

  • The quality of the products
  • The mastery of flavor and cooking
  • The “personality” of the cuisine
  • The value for the money
  • The consistency between visits

Stars represent only what is on the plate. They do not take into consideration interior decoration, service quality or table settings.

The luxury level of the restaurant is rated separately, using a scale of one (“quite comfortable”) to five (“luxury in the traditional style”) crossed fork and spoon symbols.

Doesn’t that make more sense to you? Ranking the quality of the food on the quality of the food?

At least for the 2010 guide, the AGFG got rid of their horrible “X-factor” and “Bacchus” categories. Maybe in 2011 a more meaningful system will be implemented…until then, I feel sorry for the small restaurants who have no space for a comprehensive wine cellar, and no money for expensive light fittings and designer chairs.

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