Restaurant guides and reviewers often use stars in restaurant ratings. The Michelin system reserves stars for exceptional restaurants, and gives up to three; the vast majority of recommended restaurants have no star at all. Other guides now use up to four or five stars, with one star being the lowest rating. The stars are sometimes replaced by symbols such as a fork or spoon. Some guides, like Gayot, use separate scales for food, service, ambiance, and even noise level.
The Michelin system remains the best known star system. A single star denotes "a very good restaurant in its category", two stars "excellent cooking, worth a detour", and three stars, "exceptional cuisine, worth a special journey".
Michelin stars are awarded only for the quality of food and wine; the luxury level of the restaurant is rated separately, using a scale of one ("quite comfortable") to five ("luxury in the traditional style").
at 6:59 PM on Oct. 2, 2010