The first time I read a one-star restaurant review in the New York Times 20 years ago, I thought surely then-critic Ruth Reichl (the best there ever was) was teeing it up for a long-ball lashing.
I was wrong.
Reichl raved about the food as some of the best Chinese chow she’d ever had and that it was also nicely priced. In several ways she said readers must come there if they liked great Chinese food …
… but know ahead of time that the Chinatown spot was a dump and that the service was terrible.
For the uninitiated who only glanced at that lone star, the verdict was, “I won’t go there. It got one out of four stars.”
But those who read the piece caught a different message: Come here expecting great food, but little else. If that’s OK with you, you’re going to love this place.