A restaurant experience is comprised of many components. In the White Guide we assess the level, direction and quality of a restaurant’s food, beverages, service, and ambiance. The rating-scale is based on a total of 100 points. Tallied separately, the greatest amount of weight is placed on the food, i.e. the restaurant’s gastronomy. Subsequently, adding the results of the other evaluation areas, we compile a total score that summarizes each restaurant’s score. In all areas of assessment, we give extra weight to idea, concept, focus and personality.
FOOD/GASTRONOMY: MAXIMUM 40 POINTS
We take into consideration the concept/idea/personality/style of the kitchen as well as the ingredients, complexity, execution, presentation and flavours.
We look for a clear direction/concept as well as individual style/character/profile and specialties.
We consider how innovative the restaurant is and whether it is developing/refining an approach/tradition.
We assess the general quality, seasonality and origin of the ingredients.
Level of difficulty and technical precision
We look at the accuracy of execution, the technical level as a whole and its individual parts.
We look for well-married, clear/pronounced, balanced flavours in interesting contrasts, as well as innovative ways of juxtaposing textures.
Style and esthetics are important aspects of presentation, as are plating, portioning, the interplay of hot and cold dishes and finishing touches at or on the table.
||well-executed gastronomy at a fine level.
||interesting and well-executed gastronomy at a very fine level
||very interesting and well-executed gastronomy at a master level
||brilliant, original gastronomy at a global master level
BEVERAGES: MAXIMUM 20 POINTS
We take all drinks into consideration (Aperitifs, wine, beer, water, juices and other non-alcoholic alternatives, digestifs, coffee and tea).
A clear concept for the beverage program. This could apply to the breadth/selection, the sommelier’s selections, a focus on a specific beverage area (Anything from a classic wine list and natural wines to beer and non-alcoholic alternatives) or even what roll the beverages play in the restaurant’s overall concept.
We look for a well-curated beverage program, product quality, character/maturity, etc.
Information, advice and presentation
We consider the staff’s product knowledge, suggested pairings with different dishes as well as handling and presentation.
Before and after
Cocktails/aperitifs, coffee/tea and digestifs. We look for product quality, brewing knowledge, presentation as well as a well-curated coffee and tea selection.
||solid beverage program
||a good beverage program
||an interesting, very good, top-class beverage program
||brilliant, international top-class beverage program
SERVICE: MAXIMUM 20 POINTS
Service is central to the restaurant experience. It is assessed in the context of the chosen service model. At an informal restaurant a courteous, attentive and professional attitude might be enough, though this is not the case at a top-rated fine dining restaurant. To achieve full score for service, everything must have found its form, have a natural flow and come together perfectly.
Here we assess how clear and thought-out the service is. It should have originality in some respect. For instance, a straightforward brasserie set-up cannot score full points.
Breadth and depth
We assess the grace as well as various other functions and elements of service, from reserving a table (by telephone or via digital channels) and greeting you as a guest, to ordering, addressing special needs and bidding you farewell. Only a fine dining restaurant can get full score here.
We look for “concept delivery” but also for general execution of service in the form of attention, method and precision/timing of serving/clearing/payment, etc.
We look for knowledge/professionalism, performance, attitude/“tone”, and the ability to interact with diners at the appropriate level within the framework of the concept, all the while making them feel comfortable and appreciated.
||elementary but solid service
||very well-executed, top-class service
||excellent, top-class service on an global level
AMBIANCE, SETTING & ATMOSPHERE: MAXIMUM 20 POINTS
We consider every aspect of the restaurant’s ambiance, from the physical setting to how it affects you emotionally as a diner. The assessment of the setting is based on the establishment’s interior and exterior, from the architecture to micro-levels (Like the table setting). The restaurant’s emotional character/personality is important, as is the atmosphere - to which restaurant owners, staff and diners all contribute. Some restaurants have that “little extra something” which makes all the difference.
We look for superiority in concept, profile, personality and design quality, from classic spaces to contemporary architectural trends - from castle to cabin.
We consider the attention given to comfort and seating, aspects like the foyer/bathrooms, acoustics and air quality. Poor acoustics and kitchen odors receive negative points, as does the apparent absence of concern for the disabled, people with allergies and pregnant women.
Additional environmental assets
We consider aspects like scenic locations, attractions such as terraces, lounge/bar areas, open kitchens, chef’s tables, art and interaction among/with guests, etc.
Diners themselves are considered an ambiance-raising factor that affects the restaurant’s allure, as does its regulars and the place’s public profile. We also consider the atmosphere of a restaurant’s neighbourhood, as well as how well the staff blends in.
”It’s in the walls.”
The whole restaurant and its ethos are considered a mood factor.
||an inoffensive setting with a neutral atmosphere
||a setting/atmosphere in keeping with the entire experience
||a setting/atmosphere that adds to the entire experience
||a setting/atmosphere that in and of itself is worth a visit