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Omnivore - Extra helping: BLT Steak and those pesky stars

Three stars or four? The answer isn't always so easy.

Image I knew it was coming. And last night it did: a commenter questioned the 3-star rating of my BLT Steak review. "At the end I was sure it would be 4 stars, but only three, your writing needs to reflect the review," jbeez said. And frankly, that commenter wasn't the first. My editor and I went back and forth on this one, and it was the night before the review came out online that at 2 a.m., I sat straight up in bed and said out loud, "It's 3 stars." Before that moment, I really wasn't sure.

Assigning stars is anything but an exact science. Most often I get in trouble with readers over the two star rating, with folks arguing that it's two out of five, equivalent to a D letter grade. I argue that there are many, many ways of grading things - for instance, a bronze medal is not the same as a failing grade. As my friend John Kessler over at the AJC says, "We like to think of each star as a bright, shiny object that you earn." One star means "fair." Two means "good." Some restaurants are aiming for mind-blowing, so for them a 2-star rating might be disappointing. But for many places, "good" should be seen as a positive review.