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" Mobil Guide," which has been rating eateries and hostelries for 37 years, gave the prized five-star rating to 36 establishments in its 1994 edition, 12 of which are restaurants.

Cincinnati's Maisonette, with an unbroken string in the five-star category of 30 years, holds the longevity record for restaurants (Ernie's in San Francisco had been the old recordholder, with a 27-year streak). But among all Mobil categories, the Broadmoor Resort near Colorado Springs, Colo., is champ, having landed its 34th consecutive five-star rating in the '94 guide.

Mobil Corp.'s Ruth Walker, manager of the "Mobil Guide," said the ratings are done by field inspectors who work for the guide's publisher. (Prentice-Hall produced the current edition, but Random House recently took over publication of the series.)

"Two anonymous dining visits are made to all five-star and potential five-star restaurants," Ms. Walker said, "along with a visit to the kitchen. We do not include any restaurant in the guide if we are not allowed to see and inspect the kitchen."

In all, Ms. Walker said, the guide rates about 20,000 restaurants, hotels, motels, motor lodges, resorts and inns each year, handing out between one and five stars. In addition to the 36 five-star winners, 361 establishments were awarded four stars in the current guide, she added.

And for those who think it is an anomaly for Cincinnati to have America's longest-reigning five-star culinary jewel, she pointed out that in 1972, three Cincinnati restaurants were awarded five stars, a distinction the city shares with only San Francisco and New York-the latter having placed four restaurants on the elite list in the '70s.

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