How we review restaurants

What the stars mean

We evaluate restaurants on a scale of one to five stars, and we only review places that we believe are worth a visit. Reviewers award stars for food and wine quality, as well as presentation, service, atmosphere, ambition and originality.

star
FAIR
A one-star restaurant offers consistently decent food. Ingredients are fresh and the food is cooked correctly. The service is efficient at minimum.

star
GOOD

A two-star restaurant offers satisfying food that’s fresh and presented. Service is friendly and efficient, and there’s something special about the place, whether it’s the location or the decor, the service, the style of cooking, the scarcity of similar restaurants, or the prices.

star
VERY GOOD

A three-star restaurant shows ambition. It strives to be better than its peers by using novel, time-consuming or uncommon ingredients and techniques. Service is professional and knowledgeable.

star
EXCELLENT

A four-star restaurant stands above its peers. The food isn’t only very good; it does something extra. Flavours and ingredients complement and build on each other, and many dishes contain happy surprises. Decor, setting and mood have been carefully thought out, designed and executed. Service meets every expectation.

star
EXCEPTIONAL

A five-star restaurant presents food that is as incredible to look at as it is to eat. The chef breaks new ground, innovating, inventing, extracting and pairing ingredients and flavours, colours and textures in novel ways. The atmosphere—decor, sound level, lighting, table settings—is inspired. Service is impeccable.

Who pays for them

Restaurant bills are paid by Toronto Life, and the reviews have no connection to advertising.

Price ratings

The price rating of a restaurant is determined by the average entrée price, or the average cost of several small or sharing plates. The price rating reflects the cost of meals at dinnertime, unless the restaurant does not serve dinner.

$
INEXPENSIVE
Mains under $10.

$$
MODERATELY PRICED
Mains $10–$20.

$$$
SOMEWHAT EXPENSIVE
Mains $20–$30.

$$$$
EXPENSIVE
Mains $30 or more.