Omnivore - Star ratings, challenged and explained

Got a letter from Lisa, who writes to share her frustration with our star rating system:

I love your reviews. I was worried you'd never measure up to Bill Addison. I initially prayed that when he left, Cliff Bostock would take his place, but I have put that panic to bed (though I adore Cliff Bostock). But I have one huge complaint. WHAT IS UP with giving three stars to every damn restaurant? It drives me insane. I mean, reread the opening paragraph of the AquaKnox review. Even the blurb on the TofC table of contents page ("all glitz and no soul"). And then tell me, is that how you begin a review for a restaurant rated "very good"? It is not. Why on earth does this get three stars? Why, why, why? How are your dear readers supposed to make decisions about when the splurge is worth it if everything is "very good"? The grade inflation at CL is crazy-making. And while I'm at it, what is up with ONE star out of FIVE being "fair"? Twenty per cent is fair? Two out of five is "good". That's a 40%, a very low F. If I gave a student a 40 on a paper and then wrote "good work!", s/he would have a fit. I know that's CL stuff and was already like that before you got here, but it's just wrong.

Arg, the star ratings. They drive me crazy. But I thought Lisa had some good points. Here is what I wrote as a response:

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