Letters Where have all the restaurant chiles gone? Readers fight back.
Many readers were upset to learn of our decision to remove chile ratings from restaurant reviews. Here is an edited selection of letters we’ve received about the change. I was sorry to see you lose the chiles for the restaurant reviews. I am concerned that you will also eventually get rid of the chiles for the movie guide too. Even though you say you won’t and that there is a big difference between movies and restaurants, I disagree. I saw the chiles as an overall rating that included the reviewer’s impression of everything at the restaurant — food, service, atmosphere, etc. A movie also has many components — sound, acting, narrative, script, visuals, etc. In each case, many things go into the overall impression that results in the chile rating. I don’t always agree with your ratings on movies and restaurants, but take them as a general guide. (For instance, I love sci-fi, but your reviewer almost always gives sci-fi movies lower ratings.)
For the restaurant reviews, I looked first to the chiles to see if I wanted to read about the restaurant. With no chiles, I don’t even want to try reading the long review. If you’re going to keep not having the chiles, at least make the type bigger on “The Short Order” and format it to make it a little easier to read. Now I have to use that instead of the chiles to see if I want to read the longer article. But frankly, the chiles were very useful, plus eye-catching. Now I just see a huge amount of small type that does not make me want to read anything about the restaurant.
— Deborah Reade, Santa Fe
If the restaurant is not good enough to receive a chile rating, then give them a minus chile. Readers are wise enough to know that a four-chile rating of a food truck is not the same experience as a 4-chile rating of a fine dining restaurant. We need the CHILES — IT IS NEW MEXICO!
— Cynthia Huff, Santa Fe
My wife and I have had ongoing problems with the chile ratings, from our weekly Friday Question of “Who got the 3 chile rating this week?” to the many times that the chile rating and the written review didn’t seem to mesh. But still, they were a nice, quick point of reference about whether or not a restaurant was worth investigating further. So we will miss them for that purpose.
— Larry Prescott, Santa Fe
To me, the chile ratings say, “This is a great restaurant, this was good, this actually didn’t work for me,” etc. Sometimes the negative comments in the review were in conflict with generous number of chiles the restaurant received, but usually at a glance I knew whether or not I wanted to try that restaurant. ... That was the great use for the chiles. And I remembered how many chiles some of the restaurants received, and noticed when they went up or down on the next review.
— Debbie Curnutt, Santa Fe
I look at your restaurant reviews every week and I definitely appreciate the “chile system.” It tells me immediately the general opinion of the reviewer. It does NOT in any way preclude my own reading and evaluating. ... I don’t see any difference in rating movies/films with chiles from doing this in regard to eateries. Both just give a hint at the beginning what is the reviewer’s opinion. From there I look at the review to see the high and possible low points that guide the reviewer’s opinion. ... Soooooo, put the chiles back!
— Richard Block, Santa Fe
I liked the chiles. They made me want to read the review. ... Isn’t it the job of a restaurant reviewer to provide a rating — backing it up with a detailed account of his or her experiences at the establishment? Bring back the chiles!
— Jocelyn Davis, Santa Fe