(Illustration by Stephan Walter)

In this year’s guide, 17 restaurants either changed star ratings or are rated for the first time. The jumps I immediately noticed: Palena Cafe and Woodberry Kitchen both gained a full star. Just as notable though are the fresh faces to the Guide, including the two-star establishments Shophouse Southeast Asian Kitchen (so new that the paint is still drying) and the Standard, which shows that it’s not the beer-garden concept alone that lowered Biergarten Haus.

Palena Cafe and the Oval Room both moved into the three-and-a-half star neighborhood, which is rare territory. None of the of three-and-a-half star-rated restaurants from previous guides — the Bistro at Restaurant Eve, Palena’s Dining Room, 2941, Minibar (for obvious reasons) and Charleston — appear in this year’s list.

All six of the restaurants Sietsema has rated as four stars in years past make an appearance in this guide. Last year CityZen was notably absent, and before that Citronelle had been demoted to three-and-a-half. But this year they are both there, along with Rasika, the Inn at Little Washington, Komi and the Tasting Room at Restaurant Eve. Going back to 2003, the first year that stars appeared in the guide, this is the most four-star establishments that have appeared at one time.

See for yourself how the star system has evolved over the years with this archive of Tom Sietsema’s Dining Guides.








2010 (Spring)


2011 (Spring)