While waiting for my flat tire to get repaired, I decided to eat at a local joint called "Tasty Grill," recommended to me by non other than my mechanic. I figure mechanics eat good food (as opposed to other professions?), so I took his advice. After eating at this only-slightly-above average restaurant, which was rated as a mind-boggling 4.5 stars on Yelp, it got me to thinking about these ratings.
As a true indication of the quality of a restaurant (AKA, one that synchs up with our own ratings, detailed in a previous post), I like to use Philadelphia's Yelp ratings. I think that's due to several factors: the size of the city (small), the quality of the chefs (amazing), the passion for the food (excessive), and the appropriate ratio of restaurants to people (not overwhelming, but lots of choices). That last aspect is probably one of the biggest factors affecting Yelp ratings in any city, as you can see that there is a relative deflation of Yelp ratings in places like Manhattan (higher restaurant:person ratio), whereas there is a marked inflation of scores in places like Long Island or Boston (lower restaurant:person ratio). Of course, better chefs will also flock to the city as opposed to the 'burbs. When you have competition between many chefs with celebrated resumes, the quality of the food will inevitably increase.
In any case, the moral of the story is that a high Yelp rating means nothing without context. And, Manhattan rules.
Now, on to the restaurant. Tasty Grill is a Greek diner with a clean look and friendly service. It's got outdoor seating, fresh food, and a small, but not limited, menu. This place was set up for at least a good score, and yet, there were just too many drawbacks for me to give this place a 4.0.
Let me preface this by saying that I've recently gone to Greece and experienced authentic Greek cuisine, so any Greek restaurant will be placed under the microscope. I wound up getting the beef gyro platter, which comes with a Greek salad, strips of beef gyro meat, and a side (I got sweet potato fries). The only thing that made the salad "Greek" was a large hunk of quality feta cheese and some olives. I'll give it the due praise of not being over-dressed. The entree came out FAST. Like, 30-seconds-into-my-salad fast. I found out why as soon as a took a bite of the thinly sliced, yet overdone gyro meat. I think they pre-sliced their orders and then proceeded to heat them up. Ugh, this was a disaster. I might as well have placed an order for shoe leather. I won't even begin to comment on a supposedly Greek diner having choices of "beef gyro" versus "pork gyro." The sweet potato fries were crispy, but who the hell cares? Sweet potato fries don't know what they want to be, and you can't even eat them with ketchup because it's just disgusting. I'm done with them.
Strips of Leather and Lack-of-identity Fries
Rating: 3.8/5 feta cheese blocks