We love reviews that rate in star form. Or thumb form. Or snap form. Those who claims otherwise are pretentious, liars, or both. Why? Because it's convenient, eye-catching, and allows the reader to stack up the competition via shiny little stars. Today, the Chronicle's Michael Bauer explains how the food scribes on Fifth and Mission award stars to restaurants.

Describing it as "most painful element in writing a review," Bauer speaketh:

In The Chronicle’s rating system, the food counts twice as much as the ambiance and the service. We tally the stars, divide by four and come up with the overall rating. If the number falls in between, I’ll generally bump up the stars depending on the food rating.

He also points out, "In my mind, 2 stars means it’s good; 2.5 is very good." So, now you know.

Only a scant nine restaurants have received the coveted four-star rating: Chez Panisse, Coi, Cyrus, French Laundry, Le Folie, Manresa, Michael Mina, Restaurant at Meadowood, and Ritz-Carlton Dining Room. (And, no, you did not have a ho-hum experience when you visited the aforementioned nine, so don't even try, SF foodie ilk. Don't even. Don't.)

Read more about how the Chronicle doles out their precious stars at Inside Scoop.