`Citizen Critics' Rate Top US Restaurants

THE ``1995 Zagat Survey of America's Top Restaurants'' rates 880 eating establishments in some 30 cities across the United States. The ratings are based on reviews by 40,000 diners who sent in survey forms (and will receive a free copy of the $12.95 guide in return). Top-rated eateries include Patina in Los Angeles, Postrio in San Francisco, Bouley in New York, Ambria in Chicago, Olives in Boston, and the Commander's Palace in New Orleans.

Tim and Nina Zagat, joint publishers, also produce guides to individual cities. Last year's New York City restaurant guidebook became the all-time bestselling book at Doubleday's flagship bookshop on Fifth Avenue, selling 9,000-plus copies.

Plane vs. train from London to Paris

TWO reporters for ``France Today'' magazine recently raced in opposite directions from the Arc de Triomphe in Paris to Trafalgar Square in London. They were testing the speed of the just-opened Eurostar train through the Channel Tunnel vs. a flight. The 211-mile trip from London to Paris is only a 70-minute flight; the train takes 3 hours, 6 minutes. But by the time the air traveler had taken a taxi to the airport, checked in, flown, gone through Customs (the train has Customs agents aboard), and taken a cab to downtown London, he had spent 3 hours and 55 minutes in transit and spent $311. The Chunnel passenger's time? The same, to the minute -

but for $131. The magazine declared the train passenger the victor, based on economy and comfort.

Top in-flight entertainment

BRITISH-BASED Virgin Airways was given 1994's ``best overall in-flight entertainment'' award (for its magazine, audio, and video) by the World Airline Entertainment Association, a Chicago-based group. British Airways and Qantas were the runners-up. Ahead for airline passengers: receiving phone calls in flight; movies shown on virtual-reality-style headsets; and electronic gambling.

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