Jonathan Gold's debut review for the LA Times is out today (about CITY Night at downtown’s Border Grill, membership required), and yesterday, the Times reported that they are droppping their star ratings on restaurant reviews. Coincidence?
The explanation for the decision to cut stars is fairly simple. "First, star ratings are increasingly difficult to align with the reality of dining in Southern California — where your dinner choices might include a food truck, a neighborhood ethnic restaurant, a one-time-only pop-up run by a famous chef, and a palace of fine dining. Clearly, you can’t fairly assess all these using the same rating system," Dining editor Russ Parsons wrote. "Furthermore, the stars have never been popular with critics because they reduce a thoughtful and nuanced critique to a simple score."
Parsons promises a short summary of the review instead of stars, but there's speculation that Jonathan Gold's recent hire may have had a part in the decision (Gold's former publication, LA Weekly, did not use a star system).
Then again, the LA Times is doing quite a bit to sell their Jonathan Gold partnership. Their latest ad last night promised potential subscribers they could "get Jonathan Gold for less than the price of a shrimp-pumpkin dumpling."
Not to mention that the LA Times' paywall went up March 5, which was Gold's last day at LA Weekly. We get it, LA Times. We're super excited that Jonathan Gold is writing for you, too.