The List's Eating & Drinking Guide Ratings

How does The List select restaurants for inclusion in the Eating & Drinking Guide?

At its simplest, we choose to review about 30% of all eating establishments in Edinburgh and Glasgow. Our data shows that there are around 3500 eating establishments across the two cities and we review what we consider are the 1000 most worthy of attention. We are therefore selecting an above average cohort and the ratings generally reflect this.

How are the scores awarded?

The rating is averaged from scores out of ten in five separate categories as follows:

  • Appeal of Menu and Wine List
  • Quality of Cooking and Ingredients
  • Setting & Ambience
  • Quality of Service
  • Overall Appeal (or ‘Go Back Ability’)

The scores are given by individual List Eating & Drinking Guide reviewers following a recent anonymous visit during which they have eaten a meal. Ratings and reviews are informed not just by the experience of the visit but also other sources including separate visits and an interview with senior staff.

What do the ratings mean?

In each of the five categories our reviewers are expected to provide a score that helps reflect and substantiate their overall impression of the venue. We are well aware that scores can sometimes be the source of disputes both large and small. We are also aware that they can be elevated in importance by diners and venues.

As far as The List is concerned, the rating simply sits alongside other bits of information we make available to the reader, including price and menu information, opening hours and online links. To our mind the ratings are of less importance and assistance in guiding the reader than the information conveyed in the write up (review) or Hitlist and Tiplist recommendations. While the ratings can be a handy comparative tool between similar restaurants, we do not rank search results by rating. Hitlist and Tiplist choices are informed by rather than determined by ratings.

The summary score is currently presented online but not in our print version.

Why award scores at all?

As well as providing an additional point of information for readers, scores help us monitor and rate our own reviewing processes. Equally important, however, are the algorithms used by search engines: by publishing a score in addition to our independent review our coverage achieves elevated recognition. Other review sites create scores from an accumulation of user reviews (commonly 1 to 5 stars), and some find utility in this approach. However, The List considers that such ‘user’ ratings often suffer from manipulation and do not have the authority of a professional, paid food reviewer. Our scores do not claim to be perfect or beyond dispute, and they are based on a broad range of factors, objectively considered.

Ratings provided by reviewers in this way are also a feature of other parts of The List’s coverage of what’s on, arts and entertainment: for example, we regularly publish reviewer ratings for Festival shows, theatre, music gigs, albums and films.

Can the ratings be trusted?

Restaurants covered in the guide are reviewed incognito, to ensure that our experience is that of any other diner. Our reviewers are not qualified food inspectors, but they are experienced and knowledgeable. They are chosen to reflect an informed local diner’s viewpoint, and they are encouraged to express an unbiased and even-handed opinion both in their write-ups and scoring. In our reviewing process we aim to treat venues equally, whether a Michelin-starred restaurant or hole-in-the-wall café. All are subject to a similar style of incognito visit, review coverage including High/Low points and scoring formula. No venue pays for review coverage and no special favours are accorded to the companies that choose to buy display advertising space in the guide or online – they are treated exactly the same when it comes to their review visit, write-up, scores and Hitlist selections.

The scores, along with the write-ups, are checked and discussed by our editors for fairness and consistency.