The chef says the goal is that no one will leave with a rating of less than 9. As it happens, I have been to this restaurant, and if my rating registered above a 1, the software should be recalled.

After years of wanting to go and a couple of hours of driving, we had finally made it to this temple of gastronomy. Dinner would be the price of an emergency medical procedure, but food critics and guidebooks said every obscenely spent penny would be worth it.

My three companions and I were nothing short of exhilarated. As we entered, our mood didn't just go to 10. As the heavy-metal guitarist says about his amplifier in the mockumentary This Is Spinal Tap, it went to 11.

But things got off to a wobbly start - there was no greeter. We stood around the foyer, making small talk with one another, feeling vaguely uncomfortable, until at long last someone appeared and took us to our table. Small matter, but I will allow that the no-greeting thing may have dropped us to a 10.

After being seated, we waited interminably for the waiter to take our order. We polished off our bread and butter and our water by the time he returned. Our ranking slipped to a 9. We told the waiter we wanted to see the tasting menu. "The tasting menu?" he said, as if he had never heard of such a thing. "Yes, uh, the tasting menu." He snapped his book shut, turned on his heel, and, without a word, vanished. Our rating, one can assume, dropped to 8.

As we debated whether to go à la carte or with the fixed-price tasting menu, a question arose. "Is it possible to get a salad between the appetizers and the first course?" someone at our table asked the waiter when he finally returned. "The salad is made fresh," he replied, "and therefore I cannot assure you when it will come out. Perhaps it can be served with your main course." Rating down to 7. After that, it was one calamity after another.