Tom: Answering your last question, yes, absolutely, the minimum quality level for one star is pretty high. For many of us, a splurge restaurant will have one Michelin star. Americans tend to think of "one star" as mediocre--way wrong regarding the Michelin rating system.A one star in France, for dinner (not lunch) will generally be at least $75/person.I don't claim to know the details of all this, and I don't claim to know much about good food, but part of the trick is knowing whose opinions matter, if you're going to spend serious money in Europe on food. There are plenty of restaurants that will take your $50 or $75 per person and deliver only average food, and knowing how to use the Michelin system helps you get your money's worth. Michelin has been rating restaurants and hotels in Europe for over a century. An example with numbers will help illustrate the point: out of all Paris in 2008 the Michelin hard bound Guide Rouge lists about 350 restaurants, these you could say are Michelin rated, but of the 350 that are Michelin rated or recommended, only 40 of those were awarded 1 star, 15 had 2 stars, and 9 (in 2008) had 3 stars. 64 restaurants in all of Paris with one or more stars. Many cities have no 3 star restaurant, not just Brussels, another that comes to mind is Venice. Of course it's just opinion, but in Europe Michelin has established--over the last hundred years--an authoritative opinion for rating restaurants and hotels that is respected by Europeans. (we've had people here say, "Michelin, don't they just make tires?")People often write in here looking to spend money on a splurge restaurant, say in France, and if you're going to spend more than $75/person, my feeling is they should at least be aware that the Michelin ratings are out there; and these days accessible for free online, for those who care to sample what European experts consider to be good food.