Tom Sietsema's 2009 Fall Dining Guide: Ratings Code

For his 10th annual Dining Guide, Tom Sietsema looks at the best in Washington-area restaurants. Feast your eyes on photos from this year's selections.
Sunday, October 18, 2009

Ratings are based primarily on food quality but take into account service and ambiance. Restaurants that earn no stars are rated poor.

* Satisfactory

Restaurants that are useful to know about if you are nearby; they may have only a few dishes or a single quality, such as a view or atmosphere, to distinguish them.

** Good

Restaurants with generally appealing cooking, service and settings; they tend to be worth driving across town for.

* * * Excellent

Rewarding destinations, no matter where you're coming from; they typically blend high-quality cooking with the environs.

* * * * Superlative

An unsurpassed dining experience; these restaurants do what they do extraordinarily well.

Decibels Key

Quiet: Under 60 decibels.

Conversation is easy: 60-70 decibels.

Must speak with raised voice: 71-80 decibels.

Extremely loud: Over 80 decibels.

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