Recently, people have been asking about the ratings system we employ. To answer those questions, I’d simply refer all inquisitive minds to our “ratings” tab on the top of our blog. Essentially, we use the same scale as Hollywood uses to rate their movies, a scale of 0-4. And just like with movies, we rate food based on the quality, as opposed to the type, of food. And this is where it can get fun, because after each meal, you can ask yourself, “what movie did i just eat?” Because just like with movies, food can vary in quality, AND in type. So, let’s compare.
Again – I am not a food critic, or a movie critic. But I can still pretend to be both. The below comparison only really works with meals starting at 2 and above. For instance, myself and a few friends regularly watch Tommy Wiseau’s “The Room” and laugh hysterically at its unintentional humor. “The Room” is widely regarded as one of the worst films ever made, and we love it for this specific reason. It would be hard to imagine someone enjoying bad food; unless you were in jail or Tom Hanks’ character from Cast Away.
The Two Star Movie/Meal: Two Types:
(1) The Feel Good Flaw Festival – This kind of food isn’t necessarily good for you, and its ingredients (and overall taste for that matter) are not that sophisticated or tremendous. But the formula works. Your local pizzeria’s plain slice, McDonald’s fries, funnel cakes. If you cared to scrutinize, you’d stay away from this stuff, but you just can’t help but to eat first and ask questions later. MOVIE EQUIVALENT – Rocky IV. Yes, objectively speaking, 1,000 soviet, steroid powered point blank blows to Balboa’s noggin should have resulted in his certain death/decapitation. But it didn’t. Rocky wins. The USSR, and Communism, loses. And you love it every time.
(2) The Average Restaurant – 2 stars is, after all, average. But unlike the aforementioned example, this food is just ordinary and offers little-to-no incentive to come back for more. Your irish pub that, somehow, churns out pretty decent food; an average and edible meal. MOVIE EQUIVALENT – Vanilla Sky. This movie is just plain ol’ average…. watchable, but boring at same time… moving on.
The Two Point Five Movie/Meal: Two Types:
(1) The Predictable Surprise – The restaurant that follows a simple formula. Variation is seldom, yet surprises you with taste. That Italian Restaurant with the good “gravy,” the burgers that are better than normal, the dependable chinese restaurant. MOVIE EQUIVALENT – The Girl Next Door. Indeed, the movie was a complete rip off of Cruise’s Risky Business. Nerdy kid gets mixed up with the morally compromised hot babe who, somehow, is into him. Not exactly a groundbreaking storyline. But, despite that, the movie still offers a few fresh surprises and characters that make it very watchable.
(2) The Bi-Polar Express – This restaurant offers simultaneous promise and disappointment, often times in one sitting. Your appetizer rocks, but your entree is just not up to stuff, or vice versa. Potential is all around, but lack of consistency fails to make your experience truly memorable. MOVIE EQUIVALENT – Miami Vice – A movie loaded with a great cast, director and premise, yet, with the exception of a few notable scenes (the shootout at the end being one of them) it fails to really ever develop into a solid flick.
The 3 Point Movie/Meal: Three Types:
(1) The Well Working Formula – For the meals and restaurants that don’t score points for originality, but still serve well above average fare. Higher end Mulberry Street restaurants and many (but not all) Manhattan Steakhouses come to mind. You know what you are going to get, but its predictability is its strength. MOVIE EQUIVALENT – Top Gun. When I was six, this movie caught me by surprise…but anyone could really see this plot coming from a mile away: Longshot, cocky pilot and goofy soon-to-be killed sidekick take on the world under the cool mentorship of Tom “Viper” Skerritt. Guns, planes, Kenny Loggins – it’s all predictable, but never loses its loving feeling.
(2) The Offbeat Success – For the restaurant that is unique in its vibe and dishes. A smart production from start to finish, yet lacking the upper echelon chops to make it a superior edible experience. MOVIE EQUIVALENT – Napoleon Dynamite. Never a threat to win an academy award, this original comedy leaves it’s unique stamp in the movie world with great, diverse characters and a hilariously charming storyline.
(3) The Cult Classic – For the outfit that puts out very good food at affordable prices. It has its local followers who, while knowing the food is not perfect, still prefer it to some of the more critically acclaimed locales – Corner Bistro in the West Village, or Taqueria in downtown Jersey City are good examples. MOVIE EQUIVALENT – The Big Lebowski. White Russians. Bowling. Bathrobes. The Dude. John Goodman. Seemingly simple things yielding a great and unique experience. This classic is sometimes more satisfying than some of the all time greats.
The 3.5 Movie/Meal: Three Types
(1) The Edgy Near-Masterpiece – For the place that produces food that is truly memorable, one of a kind, and borderline excellent. Often innovative, its dishes leave one severely impressed and satisfied but, at times, its need to be a nonconformist causes it to fall just short of flawless excellence. MOVIE EQUIVALENT – Heat. You could also put The Departed in this category and, like The Departed, Heat is slightly (and I say this with a grimace) flawed. Powerful performances, memorable scenes (Bank robbery scene – greatest of its kind) and rich dialogue…yet it is also a victim of its own brilliance, as parts of the movie can drag in order to accommodate its depth.
(2) The Happy Ending – The joint that is almost too perfect. Its dishes are well crafted and presented but, upon reflection, lack the depth necessary to elevate it to 4 star status. MOVIE EQUIVALENT – Shawshank Redemption. Such a beautiful film. Such moving performances. Such a beautiful ending. Friendships are forged, right triumphs over wrong, and redemption is realized. I absolutely love this movie but, admittedly, its corniness and lack of feasibility hold it back from true greatness.
(3) The Classic Comedy – The rare restaurant that churns out excellence while being casual. Service is average, decor is questionable, and menu is often limited. Its products are often in the beef family and it usually has an American feel. The Salt Lick BBQ in Austin, TX and Sammy’s Ye Olde Cider Mill in Mendham, NJ would probably fit into this category. MOVIE EQUIVALENT – Animal House – Admitting to not ever seeing this movie will land you in social detention. Not because it is necessarily the greatest movie – it’s very good – but because of its iconic status. You need to experience it, but… it’s not quite THE ultimate experience.
The Four Star Movie/Meal – Two Types
(1) The Perfect Game – For the culinary experience that just cannot be touched. Often imitated, never duplicated. Typically a more traditional experience, yet its grub provides ultimate satisfaction. Peter Luger’s comes to mind. MOVIE EQUIVALENT – The Godfather – As an Italian American, I am often torn about my support of this movie, but there is no doubting its delivery of cinematic excellence. Plain and simple, when it is on… I cannot turn it off. Side note – Kay Adams had nothing on Appalonia. I always excused Michael for this harmless digression.
(2) The Edgy Mainstream Masterpiece – For the restaurant that serves up food with an original, inventive foundation…while yielding tastes that are simply too mind blowing to be just called experimental. Often modern in its craft, yet timeless in its impression, the Edgy Mainstream has entrees with ingredients and combinations you may not know existed. MOVIE EQUIVALENT – The Dark Knight. What a complex, deep and awesomely bad ass film. This is not Adam West’s Batman… nor is it even Jack Nicholson’s joker. This flick is not for the young or immature. Why so serious?
Are there types of movies I left out? Yes. Not every movie translates into a meal. As an additional caveat – there will always be an exception to my above beliefs… but i bet that many of your meals can fit into one of the aforementioned categories. And, if you feel like I forgot one… please comment!