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Michelin Unveils San Francisco Ratings Today

The results will be posted here in this thread after 10:00 AM PDT.
It will be interesting to see who ends up getting the coveted stars.

Bauer's "four star" choices were listed as possible contenders in this SF Biz Journal article:
Chez Panisse
Fleur de Lys
French Laundry
La Folie
the Dining Room at the Ritz-Carlton


It will also be intruging to find out how close the local critic's predictions come to the actual results. I'm most curious to see how SF stacks up to NYC, as the NYC 2007 results will be out a week later.

Stay posted!

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  1. Here are the official results from the press release:

    3 STARS
    - The French Laundry

    2 STARS
    - Aqua
    - Cyrus
    - Manresa
    - Michael Mina

    1 STAR
    - Gary Danko
    - Fleur de Lys
    - Rubicon
    - Bushi-Tei
    - Quince
    - Range
    - Acquerello
    - La Folie
    - Masa’s
    - Ritz-Carlton Dining Room
    - Boulevard
    - Fifth Floor
    - Chez Panisse
    - Sushi-Ran
    - Chez TJ
    - Auberge du Soleil
    - Bistro Jeanty
    - Bouchon
    - La Toque
    - Terra
    - Dry Creek Kitchen
    - Farmhouse Inn & Restaurant
    - K & L Bistro - Sebastopol

    For more info, see the official release here:

    23 Replies
    1. re: foodiegrl

      Presentation, service, and decor obviously count more than food. Not that any of those places have bad food.

      1. re: Robert Lauriston

        You're definitely on to something there. That would explain Mina, for sure.

        1. re: foodiegrl

          Doesn't explain why Range and Dining Room are in the same category. And honestly, the food and service at Micheal Mina did not strike me as twice as good as The Dining Room. They are equivalent dining establishments in my mind. Make them both 2-stars or both 1-star.

          I agree though, that if Daniel and Bouley in NYC are only 2 stars, then it would be hard to justify making Mina or The Dining Room anything more than 2.

          1. re: Porthos

            I think one flub in excecution of a single dish might be enough to deny a restaurant a star.

            1. re: Porthos

              As for ranking restaurants of the caliber of the Dining Room at the Ritz-Carlton the same as Bistro Jeanty, Michelin's director said, "When you go to Bistro Jeanty, it's very nice and rustic and basic, and you have incredible food there at a good price. When you go to the Ritz-Carlton, you expect to get very good food, so if you get exceptional cuisine, then you get more than one star. A star means a good restaurant in its own category."

              1. re: Porthos

                In the Michelin universe, wo stars doesn't mean twice as good as a one star. One star = good restaurant in its category, which can vary in price range and range level of comforts. Two star = good enogh to be worth a detour; in practice, they tend to be pretty luxurious places. Three stars = worth a trip on it's own -- at this level the quality of the china and silverware and all details become important.

                1. re: limster

                  That does make a little more sense, but I still don't consider Mina or Aqua to be superior to The Dining Room. In fact, the menu at Aqua looks stale compared to The Dining Room.

                  For me, Mina and The Dining Room are about on par...both probably a notch below Daniel and Bouley.

          2. re: foodiegrl

            Anyone who ranks Aqua above Chez Panisse obviously favors form over substance.

              1. re: Morton the Mousse

                I expect that it would be difficult to earn 2 stars without preparing a full menu on a nightly basis. There is a difference between doing very few things perfectly on any given night and having a kitchen prepared to deliver a wider variety every night of the week.

                1. re: Chris Rising

                  Alice Waters said long ago that her model was comfortable, family-run establishments in France and not starred restaurants. So, maybe she got her wish?

                  The surprises to me are that K&L Bistro, Bistro Jeanty and Bouchon rec'd a star. I've eaten at over a dozen Michelin one-stars in France (and a couple places that had a star and lost it) and they're not at that level from a service, comfort or food perspective. Farmhouse Inn is much like what I consider a one-star. That rating level seems to have the greatest variance of the group.

                  1. re: Melanie Wong

                    On a related note, I think the largest variance in terms of service or food (and overall luxury) lies in the one star places, at least the ones I've been to in France. A few were lovely family-run establishment that were perhaps one step above a bistro, while others seem to be more upscale, with the corresponding variation in prices.

              2. re: foodiegrl

                Yea! I've dined at a Michelin 3-star restaurant! :) Plus 3 of the 4 2-stars and 6 of the 1-stars...

                1. re: foodiegrl

                  They are idiots, know nothing about Bay Area food obviously and this book would be a waste of money. Any book that would lump in Chez Panisse and the Ritz with Range and Quince have no clue and I don't care what their criteria is. It is stupid and makes me doubt any of their books now.

                  And two stars to Aqua ... come on. If ever there was a one or no star restaurant. I'm no fan of Boulevard but there is not one thing that Aqua does that distinguishes itself where it would have one more star than Boulevard ... and I really don't care to read what they have to say. They are wrong. Flat out.

                  The only good is that it will direct the 'tourists' that don't really care about food to places where they can eat stars instead of good food.

                  1. re: rworange

                    Aqua has a French chef. Boulevard doesn't.

                    1. re: Robert Lauriston

                      Oh my! Look in the mirror. You may see a cynic. Would the French sell out?

                  2. re: foodiegrl

                    It was a given that the French Laundry would get three stars, given than Per Se did in the New York book. I am suprised about Aqua getting two stars, and Chez Panisse only getting one. I would have expected Chez Panisse to get two, and the Cafe to get one. I figured that the Dining Room at the Ritz Carlton had a good chance to get two stars as well.

                    Among the one star restaurants, Range is a bit of surprise, especially since Delfina, A16 and Incanto got no stars. The Japanese restaurants are an odd choice, but Michelin has always been extremely unreliable when it comes to non European food (the only possible exceptions are North African in Paris and Indian in London). Both the London and New York Nobu have a star, as does Vong in New York.

                    1. re: Malik

                      yes, I agree...how did Range get into the mix? it's like someone said oh yes go here it's hip or something...it's just inconsistent.

                      1. re: ciaogina

                        It's the SF version of the Spotted Pig.

                        1. re: foodiegrl

                          Have you been to the Spotted Pig? Range is not a gastropub. Thats just silly talk.

                          1. re: Chris Rising

                            I didn't mean to liken Range to a gastro-pub. Just that they seemed to pick one outlier that was in a more casual vein from each city.

                    2. re: foodiegrl

                      Happy to see that a Sebastopol spot got a star....it wasn't around when I lived near there. I will certainly try it next time I travel to Sonoma County.

                    3. So who are the big omissions? let the debate begin...

                      5 Replies
                      1. re: chowaddict

                        I don't see much point in debating since the list is so biased toward certain styles and food. It's a very narrowminded, boring, and safe selection.

                        1. re: Robert Lauriston

                          According to Michelin, the stars are all about the food.
                          The "Couvert" symbols (the crossed fork & spoon) denote the comfort & service quality of the restaurant. I'd be most interested in the "Bib Gourmand" or red couvert recipients, but we'll have to wait for the book to see those.

                          See their quote from the guide below:
                          "We select restaurants on the quality of their cuisine first and foremost, but the welcome, service and comfort are also taken into account.

                          Stars awarded for cuisine are for the meal served, and are only judged on the food. Our criteria are : the quality of the ingredients and their preparation, the combination of
                          flavours, innovation, style and most importantly, a consistent high standard of all these

                          The couvert symbols denote the level of comfort in the restaurant (the quality of the cover, crockery and cutlery, the size of the dining area, the number of staff and the quality of service they provide).

                          Red couvert symbols indicate a particularly pleasant or characterful restaurant or an especially charming or peaceful location.

                          As for the cuisine itself, the Bib Gourmand indicates good cooking, sometimes using local specialities and produce, for a fixed price (no more than £25 for a 3 course meal)"

                        2. re: chowaddict

                          When only one restaurant earns three stars, you'd have to say there are many many omissions. Too many to even talk about. I agree with the premise that the Michelin reviews probably place a heavier weight on service and even the quality of the white linen before considering the food technique.

                          1. re: singleguychef

                            The stars are supposed to be all about the food, nothing else. The linen, service & atmosphere are all covered with a different rating system.

                            1. re: foodiegrl

                              > The stars are supposed to be all about the food, nothing else.

                              Just because they say that doesn't mean they can't be influenced by the other factors, from a well paired wine to a perfect ambience. Or the opposites.

                              I think it's a bit difficult to compare any restaurant which serves a tasting menu with one where you need to commit to a starter, main, and dessert. It's easier to forgive one boring or ill-conceived course out of nine than out of three, as well as to maintain excitement with the food. Perhaps they factor this in... one would hope...

                        3. Robert, if presentation, service, and decor counted for more than food, Manresa would never be at two stars. Michelin says food is what matters for stars, and I believe them. But clearly the fanciness of the food is important, which I guess does include presentation. That's been my experience in Europe. A lot of the meals we've enjoyed most there have been in Michelin-listed places with no stars.

                          I thought the Ritz would get 2 stars and I'm surprised that Aqua got 2 stars (though I haven't been there in ages). But otherwise I don't see any surprises. I see Chez TJ got a star so I guess the hype about the new chef has some substance, so I need to check that out.


                          1 Reply
                          1. re: mdg

                            Maybe presentation, service, and decor aren't supposed to affect the star ratings, but it's obvious from the list that they do.

                          2. while the forks may be more interesting to "chowhound type" readers, I think it is fair to say the stars get all the glory and press.

                            There are some very big names not getting any stars. I think its fun and fair to debate whether places deserved stars, didnt deserve stars, etc.

                            Some of the big names left off (not saying they deserved a star, but throwing some names out there) - oliveto, jardinere, ame, myth, coi, a16, delfina, zuni, bix, aziza, foreign cinema, incanto, slanted door

                            anyone surprised by some of these?

                            6 Replies
                            1. re: chowaddict

                              I'm not surprised at all. That's typical Michelin. Limited selection, heavy on the French.

                              Coi's their kind of place but probably too new.

                              I was confused about the forks, it's actually the opposite. Stars are supposed to be food, forks are comfort.

                              1. re: chowaddict

                                I think Ame was too new during the evaluation period. Terra recieved a star, so Ame would be an obvious choice for at least 1 star.

                                Incanto & Myth get my vote for "bridesmaids" of this year.

                                1. re: chowaddict

                                  Oliveto's the biggest omission, but it's no surprise. They're prejudiced against Italian food and less formal service.

                                  1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                    You said it. A16, Oliveto, Incanto all got the shaft. This seems to be a replay of the slight Batali received in NYC last year.

                                    1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                      Or you are biased favorably towards Italian food, and against French food...

                                      1. re: cedichou

                                        I love French food. I'd eat it more often if there were French restaurants of the quality of Olveto and Pizzaiolo in the East Bay. Luka's and Oola are pretty Frenchy and I eat at them frequently. I'd eat at La Folie regularly if I could afford it.

                                        I'd recognize the Michelin bias even I shared it, just as I recognize the laughably anti-French bias of my Italian friends whose taste is otherwise similar to mine.

                                  2. Bushi-Tei and Dry Creek Kitchen are the huge surprises for me. I had nothing but mediocre meals (and HORRIBLE service!) at Dry Creek Kitchen and find Bushi-Tei too inconsistent, hardly star-worthy.

                                    In lines with the lack of an Italian contingent, I think Aziza IS star-worthy but who would consider Moroccan to be haute cuisine?

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: Carrie 218

                                      I agree with Dry Creek Kitchen. That place is HORRIBLE. Ultra pretentious and tiny portions with little flavor. They can't even manage to fry a potato crisply. The fact it got any stars is a big warning to me never to fully trust Michelin.

                                      1. re: Carrie 218

                                        Le Timgad in Paris serves Moroccan food and has had a Michelin star in the past.

                                      2. I'm shocked that Range made it and Delfina or Incanto didn't.

                                        11 Replies
                                        1. re: Frosty Melon

                                          Anti-Italian prejudice again. There are no straight Italian or Cal-Italian restaurants on the list, only French-Italian (Acquerello and Quince).

                                          1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                            What about Quince's food strikes you as French?

                                            1. re: Chris Rising

                                              "... Michael Tusk's cooking reflects a refined and modern approach to both Italian and French cuisine."


                                              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                Your reaching. One quote out of dozens that mention the Italian influence only. "Drawing inspiration from regional Italian cuisine..."

                                                But we digress. Do you find the food Frenchified? I did not.

                                                1. re: Chris Rising

                                                  Lime mousseline? Satsuma-procecco sauce? "Tutte quelle salse" ("all those sauces"), as my Italian friends would say, explaining why the food in France was so horrible.

                                                  Maybe Tusk has deliberately been playing up the French influence in hopes of pleasing the Michelin inspectors.

                                            2. re: Robert Lauriston

                                              Quince's gnocchi with bolognese sounds pretty straight italian as does "spaghetti all' amatriciana di mare" as does "tagliolini al ragu con funghi porcini e Barolo" or the "cartoccio of porchini mushrooms and monkfish".

                                              Cal-italian takes may include the fried squash blossoms stuffed with ricotta with heirloom tomatoes or the Bellwether farm ricotta raviolo with Marin Roots Farm egg.

                                              1. re: Porthos

                                                There are some straight-up Italian antipasti and primi on Quince's menu, but if you offered most of those entrees to Italians they'd call them French.

                                                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                  Acquerello got a star. Is it not Italian?

                                                  1. re: Paul H

                                                    Like I said above, it's French-Italian. The French influence comes out mostly in the entrees.

                                                  2. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                    I don't care much for the entrees. I would call most of them cal-mediterranean or cal-italian (eg. pork loin encrusted in nettle and parmigiano, guinea hen with porcini). I can see where there is cal-french influence (eg. local petrale sole with asparagus and lime mousseline). Aside from that, I haven't noticed the entrees to be too fussy and I didn't notice many entrees with cream preps the few times I've been.

                                                    But as you've noted, the antipasti and primi are pretty solid italian, cal-italian. There is the occasional cal-french dish but not enough to call Quince french-italian.

                                                    1. re: Porthos

                                                      It's the restaurant's own characterization.

                                            3. I read an article where a NY food critic said the Michelin Guide was "comically Francophile". What can you say, obviously it's through a French filter.

                                              As much as they say it's the food, it's not just the food. I think the service model is at least half if not more. French Laundry, the only 3 star, adheres to the classic French model the closest. Few other places adhere to it. Most places have a specific Californian twist. The French service model rarely works here. No one is going to aprentice to cut bread for two years to move up to be able to pour water (that's a joke). I also think California really dislike the formality, the butt kissing/snubbing and pretense.

                                              3 Replies
                                              1. re: ML8000

                                                I'm not sure they are that "Francophile" knowing that they place Michael Mina, Manresa and Cyrus over Roland Passot and Hubert Keller

                                                1. re: hools

                                                  I think he meant in attitude, not necessarily cusine specific. What can I say, the French have specific tastes, love Jerry Lewis, don't get rock 'n roll, eat 3 hour meals regulardly, design wacky cars, yet fields a championship caliber Formula 1 team.

                                                  1. re: hools

                                                    No I'm not but there are many out there.

                                                    Cliches aside, the French do have different sensabilities and attitudes about things, food, wine, music, arts, sports, etc., and it's totally fair to assume these get filtered through in their reviews and within their institutions (Micheline Guide).

                                                    It works the same way if the Automobile Club of America reviewed French places and gave ratings, which they do.

                                              2. Well, if nothing else, the list is consistent with the way the NY list was chosen last year. If even Daniel and Bouley get only two stars, then no way was the Bay Area going to get tons of three-stars.

                                                I just keep thinking about The Spotted Pig. Are they suggesting that all those omitted restos like Zuni are inferior to The Spotted Pig? REALLY? What's going on here?

                                                3 Replies
                                                1. re: dunstable

                                                  "After learning that Babbo had received one star, Mario Batali said he didn't think New Yorkers would give much credence to the guide. He was not happy with that ranking, the same as for the Spotted Pig, of which he is a part-owner. 'They're blowing it,' he said. 'They can't put the Spotted Pig on the same level as Babbo.' He attributed the absence of additional stars to the loudness of the music he plays, and a possible bias among the inspectors against Italian cuisine and the more casual New York style of dining, which Europeans don't embrace."


                                                  1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                    I suppose those French inspectors never heard Mario on his shows trashing French cooking. Nahh.

                                                    1. re: yayadave

                                                      Especially when Claudine Pepin is a guest -- hilarious.

                                                2. For the most part my favorite restaurants here in SF will not satisfy Michelin's criteria of being a place worthy of a special trip. We are spoiled by a wealth of choices and higher standards all around, but we have also cultivated a more casual approach to service and food, not to mention noisy, packed restaurants. I mean, are people really going to travel from other parts of the world purely to eat at Zuni or Delfina?

                                                  Meh. Personally I don't really care what the guide says (or doesn't say) about the restaurants I love. And none of the contenders are going out of business because they didn't get stars - in fact, some may see an uptick as a result of the all the public whining by their biggest fans.

                                                  1. The Chron quotes some snubbed and one-star local chefs, e.g.:

                                                    Alice Waters: "I know that it's absolutely about the complexity of the wine list, and a certain kind of service, and the way the restaurant is set up. At Chez Panisse, I've never wanted it to conform in that way."

                                                    Roland Passot, La Folie: "I'm disappointed by not getting two stars ... Some of the one-stars have no tablecloths and people waiting in line outside. I know we're better than those restaurants."


                                                    27 Replies
                                                    1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                      This quote from Bauer caught my eye:

                                                      "Chez Panisse has been groundbreaking and continues to be. Giving it one star, in my mind, shows that the inspectors don't get the Bay Area food scene.

                                                      1. It seems like a lot of people have been arguing that Chez Panisse deserves more stars owing to its influence on cuisine, which makes no sense to me. Since when was that a criterion? This is not a list of the Most Important Restaurants, but a list of the Best ones. If someone is trying to pick a car, do you tell them to buy a Ford Model T? No. "Groundbreaking"? So was the first McDonald's. (Mind you, I'm making no comment about Panisse's food here, only Bauer's remark.)

                                                      2. What is this business about "don't get the Bay Area food scene"? What is that to do with anything? So without somehow sharing or understanding the Norcal food philosophy, they're not qualified to make assessments? Huh? Worse, it comes off like petulant defensiveness: well, if you don't like our restaurants, it's because you're not smart/hip/whatever enough to understand it.

                                                      I also love the author's annoyance regarding NY having more ranked restos than the Bay Area. I know everyone hates when NYers compare cities to NY, but hey, the writer brought it up all by herself.

                                                      1. re: dunstable

                                                        People should eat at Chez Panisse because it continues to be great, not for its history.

                                                        Bauer's right. Giving Aqua two stars and Chez Panisse one says it all about Michelin's appreciation of local style.

                                                        Their main audience is tourists, particularly French tourists. Lots of the places on that list, you couldn't tell from the food where you are--unlike Zuni and Oliveto. Why come here and pass up those places in favor of food you could get in Las Vegas or Dubai?

                                                        1. re: dunstable

                                                          > What is this business about "don't get the Bay Area food scene"?

                                                          Maybe it's a way of saying Michelin is about its own fixed ideas of goodness, and isn't opportunistic, isn't "Chowish".

                                                          1. re: dunstable

                                                            My assumption is that there are more restaurants in NY than in the Bay Area, (since it is a bigger metropolitan area) and if so, it seems reasonable to expect more ranked restaurants among the total sample...

                                                            1. re: susancinsf

                                                              The percentage of starred restaurants out of total restaurants in the guide is actually slightly higher in SF.

                                                              New York has more two- and three-star restaurants, but that's probably due mostly to there being more people willing to spend that kind of money.

                                                              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                I've heard the stat that SF had the most restaurants per capita then any other city. Given it's a relatively small city of approx 800k it's probably true.

                                                              2. re: susancinsf

                                                                SF is a city of about 800,000. NY is a city of about 8 million. If you're comparing each city's metro areas, the Bay Area arguably did better, with respect to population and area. If NY has more starred restos, well, the sheer numbers difference might cause that to happen.

                                                                For what it's worth, there is no NYer who would argue that the ingredients are better there than here.

                                                                1. re: dunstable

                                                                  The restaurants were chosen from the greater bay area, not just the City. Population of 6 million.

                                                                  1. re: Melanie Wong

                                                                    If we're comparing the greater area, then it's around 20 million for New York and its suburbs.

                                                                    1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                      Why talk about the "greater NY area" when all but two of the Michelin starred restaurants in NY are in a single borough? If you compare Manhattan to the city of SF in terms of Michelin starred restaurants per capita, NY kicks our butts.
                                                                      Not that any of this really matters...

                                                                      1. re: Morton the Mousse

                                                                        The real question is, what's the restaurant-going population?

                                                                        Manhattan's population is twice San Francisco's.

                                                                        New York's total population including suburbs is around three times the Bay Area's.

                                                                        New York gets almost three times as many tourists (in 2005, 42.6 million vs. 15.7 million).

                                                                        1. re: Morton the Mousse

                                                                          Yes but that also happens to be where the vast majority of the great restos are in NY. Sure, there are plenty of great eateries outside Manhattan, but those tend to be places like Grimaldi's or the Jackson Diner, places that obviously aren't going to get Michelin mentions. If they extended the reach to go from Connecticut to the Jersey Shore, the number of starred restaurants wouldn't increase that much. Are there even any star-worthy restos in all of NJ? I guess the Ryland Inn, maybe, and perhaps a few places I might not know about. Either way, it's nothing like the Bay Area, where it seems like almost half the great restos are outside SF.

                                                                          And I agree, this doesn't really matter all that much.

                                                                          1. re: dunstable

                                                                            It matters in the sense that we eat better for less money in San Francisco.

                                                                            1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                              I have mixed feelings about that, but that's a totally different thread. Short version: at the $100 level, it's much better here. At the $10 level, I lean towards NY.

                                                                              1. re: dunstable

                                                                                Just honestly curious, what kinds of meals can you get in NYC at the $10 bucks level that are really good and better then SF? I haven't seriously hung out in NYC for 10 years but the prices for everything seemed higher there.

                                                                                1. re: ML8000

                                                                                  Well it's not for everything, but the cheap stuff is often better there, in my opinion. Cheap pizza is better in NY, sub sandwiches, Indian/Pakistani food (Pakwan sux), Mediterranean sandwiches (gyro, souvlaki, etc), bagels... basically, all stuff that was once a staple of my diet. (Would that I could eat at places like Range and Canteen every day.)

                                                                                  However, cheap Mexican is much better here, and so are burgers. (what I'd give for a Fatburger in SF or NY...)

                                                                                  1. re: dunstable

                                                                                    We do have at least one Fatburger in the SF Bay area, in Pleasant Hill, methinks. Defintiely not worth a special trip or a detour, I'd say, based on my recollection of Fatburger in LA.

                                                                                    1. re: Gary Soup

                                                                                      i confess to being a Fatburger fan. I always have one when I'm in LA.

                                                                                    2. re: dunstable

                                                                                      I guess it's demographics, what you're use to and where you grew up. The deli, pizza and bagels are better in NYC but I'll take inexpensive Asian (Chinese, Thai, Vietnamese), Mexican and produce/salads over deli, pizza and bagels. For pure bang for the buck, a burrito, noodle or a rice plate are hard to beat.

                                                                                      1. re: ML8000

                                                                                        Yah, I admit my personal preferences come into play here. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying SF is a desert for bargain hunters, just that I think NY is a bit better where that's concerned.

                                                                                2. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                  The city of cheap eats would be LA. Speaking of which, I don't think there are going to be any 3 stars in LA at all (if that makes you feel any better). I would guess that Sona has the best shot.

                                                                                  $300 and above: NYC
                                                                                  $200-$100: SF
                                                                                  $100 and below: LA

                                                                                  As for $10 food, NYC and SF are probably equal. I can get 10 dumplings for $2.00 and a whole pollo a la brasa for $8-$9 in NYC as well as I can get a platter of jerked chicken for $8.99.

                                                                          2. re: Melanie Wong

                                                                            That's still a whopping 33.3% greater population in NYC. More importantly, NYC has a far greater population density. At least in my mind, the numbers aren't skewed overly NYC or anything.

                                                                      2. re: dunstable

                                                                        I agree. The "you just don't get it" excuse comes up a lot with many bay area favorites. Forget the fact, that it was an off night, or if the person has had better renditions elsewhere, or if it's just plain not that impressive. The "just don't get it" excuse has been applied to anyone having a dissenting opinion to Chez Panisse, A16, or Zuni. It's more than being "defensive", it's downright insulting.

                                                                        As for the rankings, I think most people agree that the bay area scene doesn't excel in the high end. It's the intermediate dining range where the bay area shines...and there's nothing wrong with that.

                                                                        1. re: Porthos

                                                                          It's the Michelin inspectors who are insulting the Bay Area.

                                                                          *** "an exceptional cuisine, worth a special journey"
                                                                          ** "excellent cooking, worth a detour"
                                                                          * "a very good restaurant in its category"

                                                                          Chez Panisse and La Folie not worth a detour but Aqua is? A16, Oliveto, and Zuni not very good restaurants in their categories? That's slander.

                                                                          And if Manresa isn't worth a special journey, they're going out of business.

                                                                          1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                            Like you, I don't agree with the Michelin bent towards french cuisine. In fact, the guide only seems applicable towards french/french based restaurants. It is afterall, a french guide.

                                                                            For me, I wrote the guide off in terms of credibility when they failed to rank Sushi Yasuda in NYC. Yasuda is clearly worth a special journey for many, including myself. I agree that Incanto and Oliveto should at least be 1 star...especially if Range got 1 and Aqua got 2.

                                                                            But then again, would Incanto earn 1 star compared to the 1 star restaurants in Italy? Probably not. Does it mean it's not good? Nope. You know as well as anyone that stellar italian food in Italy is often had in un-starred Michelin restaurants.

                                                                            NYers forgot about the Michelin guide soon after they released the results. The 1-starred Babbo was still packed to the gills and more difficult to secure reservations than the 3-starred Jean Georges. The guide results may come up once in a while as an interesting sidenote but I don't think it's going to change the dining scene in the Bay Area at all.

                                                                            1. re: Porthos

                                                                              Exactly. It's sort of like the Academy Awards, except with even less commercial impact.

                                                                              As for the "worth a detour" thing, most people on this board would probably consider detours to try a new brand of potato crisp, never mind heralded restaurants. Of course, the "worth a detour" comment will seem suspicious.

                                                                            2. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                              You know Robert, I didn't read much of this thread after looking at the silly ratings list but ...

                                                                              "Chez Panisse and La Folie not worth a detour but Aqua is? A16, Oliveto, and Zuni not very good restaurants in their categories? That's slander."

                                                                              Cool, Robert ... cool. I might even invest in the Lauriston guide.

                                                                      3. Has anyone else noticed that the chart for the press release shows the two Healdsburg restaurants, Cyrus and Dry Creek Kitchen, as in the neighborhood of "Russian River Valley". I imagine that whoever came up with the name for DCK will be suprised to hear that. (g)

                                                                        The appellation line in the federal regs for Dry Creek Valley runs down Healdsburg Avenue in downtown Healdsburg. Same for Russian River Valley. Dry Creek Valley is on the westside, where Cyrus and DCK are, and Russian River Valley is on the eastside of the street. Minor quibble since there are no vineyards right there, but maybe the French folks would want to know since they tend to be sticklers where matter of appellation is concerned. Or perhaps they mean the larger region adjoining the entire route of the Russian River from Mendocino County till it reaches the sea, but that's hardly a description of a neighborhood.

                                                                        2 Replies
                                                                        1. re: Melanie Wong

                                                                          Geographically, Healdsburg is in the Russian River Valley, even if not all of it is in the RRV AVA.

                                                                          1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                            Parts of Healdsburg are also in Dry Creek Valley and Alexander Valley. Healdsburg considers itself the heart of all three appellations. The section where Dry Creek Kitchen and Cyrus are located is in Dry Creek Valley AVA. Maybe Dry Creek Kitchen will change its name so that potential customers can find the restaurant in its newly named neighborhood. (g)

                                                                            Again, if Michelin's usage is referring to the entire Russian River Valley watershed, then it is rather meaningless as a neighborhood description. It could apply to venues many miles away at Lake Mendocino. Poor choice.

                                                                            Edited to add: The new book is a guide to the San Francisco Bay Area and *Wine Country*. A guide for wine touring should be more careful and precise in its use of appellation and geographic terminology.

                                                                        2. In any event, ultimately, Bauer (and Sens and Brody and everyone else) will have more impact on restaurant success than these rankings ever will. Most casual diners don't even know that such a thing exists.

                                                                          1. I went to the Ferry Building for lunch and heard Jean-Luc Naret, the managing director of the Michelin red guides, talk about the SF guide at Book Passage. The audience asked him the expected questions (Are the tastes skewed too French? Does decor count more than food? Was SF slighted in comparison to NYC?) and he had the expected answers (Inspectors are of all nationalities; Decor counts not at all in terms of star rating; With size factored in the number of stars is equal).

                                                                            A couple of interesting things: he said that he had lunch with Monsieur Bauer last year and it was clear that their viewpoints were "different" (but didn't say more); he mentioned that reviewers visited FL eight times before bestowing the three star rating (someone asked how they got eight reservations--he said they have a staff member responsible solely for securing reservations). Also he said that the company had been secretive about their review criteria, but since being hired he intended to make the process more transparent.

                                                                            FYI: He went to Slanted Door for lunch.

                                                                            2 Replies
                                                                            1. re: pane

                                                                              Apparently, the Slanted Door is a personal favorite of his, despite the ratings in the guide. I heard he went there at least twice during this visit.

                                                                              1. re: foodiegrl

                                                                                It was in the "Bib Gourmand" list for under $35 pp eats, along with the likes of A16. Maybe if those places raised their prices they'd stand a better chance of getting a star.

                                                                            2. I stumbled across him, too. He was signing copies of the guide, of all things.

                                                                              I did riffle through the "cheap eats" section of the guide (Bib Gourmand, or whatever they call it) and they seemed to be a little more creative in that department. Even had Burma Superstar listed; I can see the window plaque now!

                                                                              1. Bauer has some interesting mistakes he's found with the accuracy of the guide on his blog.


                                                                                10 Replies
                                                                                1. re: sugarbuzz


                                                                                  - Aziza: mentions belly dancers, haven't been any since May 2003
                                                                                  - Gary Danko: mentions Nick Peyton, who left in 2000
                                                                                  - La Folie: mentions Jamie Passot, not on the floor for 12 years
                                                                                  - Lulu: says Reed Hearon's at Rose Pistola, he left there three years ago

                                                                                  Is there any possible explanation for those mistakes other than plagarizing outdated reviews?

                                                                                  1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                    It is hard to imagine how those mistakes got into a brand new guide.

                                                                                    I suppose it's possible they've been collecting data for years, but not updating (or fact checking) their files?

                                                                                    1. re: Frolic

                                                                                      Carol Ness has an article in today's Chron that lists more gaffes:

                                                                                      - Bistro Don Giovanni: decribes as Ligurian
                                                                                      - Cafe de la Haye: describes dish that's been off the menu for over a year
                                                                                      - Oliveto: Paul Bertolli listed as "founding chef"

                                                                                      "The listings were written after Michelin's five inspectors -- three from California, two from Europe -- checked out more than 1,000 Bay Area restaurants, picked the top 356 and assigned stars to 28. All the listings were the work of one San Francisco-based writer, working only from the inspectors' reports and questionnaires sent each restaurant, [Michelin director Jean-Luc Naret] said. No other reference materials, like magazine articles or reviews, were used, Naret added. ..."

                                                                                      "'Do they read some old reviews, and put them all together?' [Bistro Don Giovanni, chef and co-owner Giovanni Scala] asked. 'They never talked to me. They never talked to Donna. They never talked to the chef,' he added. And their waiters are trained to send any inquiries to a manager. As far as a questionnaire goes, 'I've never seen one,' he added. Other restaurateurs said they did not receive questionnaires."


                                                                                      If that one SF writer was also supposed to send out the questionnaires ...

                                                                                      1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                        That's pretty bad, although I'll give them a pass on dishes that are no longer on the menu. It wouldn't surprise me if the descriptions were written six months ago.

                                                                                      2. re: Frolic

                                                                                        That apparently happened with the NY guide too, actually, citing places that didn't exist anymore and such. I wonder what they're doing over there...

                                                                                        1. re: dunstable

                                                                                          Publishing a book takes months after the manuscript is final, and restaurants close all the time, so printed restaurant guides virtually always include reviews of places that closed in the interim.

                                                                                          C&L closed in May, so the manuscript was presumably near final around that time. Most of the reviews must have been completed a few months before that.

                                                                                      3. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                        I guess that's what SFist meant when they said Bauer "finds typos here and there."

                                                                                        Typos? Fact-os?


                                                                                        1. re: Gary Soup

                                                                                          Back when I was an academic, we all knew that French scholars were notorious for getting facts wrong. Maybe it carries over to their guidebooks.

                                                                                          1. re: Gary Soup

                                                                                            Do we think the extreme errors are a function of it being a first edition? Think about how many iterations the European guides have gone through to work out those obvious errors. I think it will be interesting to watch NYC's release to see if their penchant for inaccuracy persists beyond their freshman release.

                                                                                            Seems like Michelin had no idea what it was getting itself into when it picked the Bay Area...

                                                                                            1. re: foodiegrl

                                                                                              I can't find any reports of these kinds of mistakes in the New York guide. If they'd had them, you'd think they'd have fixed the process for the SF guide.

                                                                                              If the reviews were as claimed based entirely on the inspectors' notes and questionnaires sent to the restaurants, there'd be no way to end up with that mention of Jamie Passot.

                                                                                      4. FWIW
                                                                                        The Michelin guide is a french guide, period. Look at the Italy guide for a comparison. Wonderful local restaurants are listed with one star. Many are just listed with no stars. The only three star restaurants in Italy are heavily French-influenced. This is what the readership is looking for. Period. They haven't rated beijing restaurants but I assure you that Fangshan wouldn't get three stars while a french restaurant might get one or two.
                                                                                        Italian restaurants that aren't french influenced will never get three or possibly two stars in a michelin guidebook. Chez panisse is not an attempt at haute cuisine. It's not what Alice waters wanted. A similar restaurant in France that only served locally grown produce, well-cooked and produced with nouvelle and mediterranean colors would get one star. Chez Panisse isn't taillevent. It's important in an american context, not a french or world-wide context.
                                                                                        The Ferry building is nothing special in a french context. Any good "open-air" style food market in Lyon will have artisinal cheeses and then some. It's unusual in the states, not so unusual in France. The French aren't going to go as gaga over what we might. They aren't searching for the best spaghetta alla pagliata in rome. They don't particularly care who's doing the best Adria imitation in San Francisco. They actually would be more interested in who does the best cioppino and give them one star for a local specialty. They also would be more interested, I believe, in a bottle of Weibel Green Hungarian which is a purely local grape to a bottle of a carneros merlot.
                                                                                        And of course, I'm probably wrong.

                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                        1. re: Jerome

                                                                                          I agree. My views about the guides' French prejudice were formed living in Italy, looking at the Italy red guide.

                                                                                        2. Anyone who has been to Paris knows the French have cabined, provincial tastes in food.

                                                                                          1. I'd say enough of the French-bashing. When the Brits (Restaurant Magazine) pick the 50 best restaurants in the world, they stiff the French. The Italians probably stiff both the French and the British. Americans would tend to stiff all other countries, and all Western publications stiff Asian cuisines.

                                                                                            Ca m'est égal. (That's French for "who gives a sh*t, anyway?")

                                                                                            2 Replies
                                                                                            1. re: Gary Soup

                                                                                              When Americans list the best restaurants in France, we don't seek out American chefs making American food.

                                                                                              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                                Maybe I haven't looked hard enough, but short of McDonalds etc... I haven't noticed many American chefs making American food when i was in France.

                                                                                            2. So the point of this book is what ... or even the Michelin Guide period? After reading about what seems like this mess of a guide, I wouldn't buy it for any country, even France.

                                                                                              - It has factual errors even given publishing dates
                                                                                              - They obviously didn't do their homework about the Bay Area
                                                                                              - They aren't pointing to the most delicious restaurants
                                                                                              - It is geared supposedly for French palates

                                                                                              Why would anyone buy this book who knows about food?

                                                                                              The crummy thing about this is the press it has gotten in the mainstream media. Watch any broadcast show and the restaurants picked are being reported as the best in the area.

                                                                                              Am I missing something here? What's the point? To tell the French how to eat like they eat at home when visiting the Bay Area?

                                                                                              Has any Chowhound bought this book ... unless you need to for professional reasons. If you did, why? Do you find it useful ... how?

                                                                                              7 Replies
                                                                                              1. re: rworange

                                                                                                Ironically, the Michelin Guide (and pretty much food criticism generally) were guides for where to stop for a decent bite while traveling in unfamiliar territory, which makes the MG essentially a "road food" guide. I wonder if anyone has committed suicide over Jane and Michael's pronouncements?

                                                                                                1. re: rworange

                                                                                                  Michelin Red Guides have a strong reputation in Western Europe, some parts of Asia and the US (maybe not SF). I occasionally use the guide as a source of listings for further research. I don't think these guides are specifically targeted to people that reside in the locale of the guide and especially not for 'chowhounds'. My friends in Paris use the Red Guides when they travel to the rest of France and elsewhere in Europe but rarely for Paris (other than for phone numbers). They believe the listings in the guide are reliably good and better than most other guides. When the guide comes out each year, they debate the Paris rankings and whatever else just like we do on this thread.
                                                                                                  Many top restaurants in Europe depend on foreign visitors for their business and Michelin can have a pronounce effect. A newly promoted 3 star restaurant will probably has a 40% increase in business, primary from foreign visitors. A demotion can do the opposite.

                                                                                                  1. re: rworange

                                                                                                    I bought a copy, probably since I am a compulsive San Francisco restaurant guidebook collector. It has beautiful graphics incluing maps showing the restaurant locations.

                                                                                                    As to certain restaurants being placed in the Russian River Valley, the book divides the wine country into three regions (secions of the book and maps): Napa Velley, Sonoma Valley, and Russian River. They aren't trying to be AVA-precise, they are just trying to name general areas (like including Pacific Heights and Japantown in their Marina area).

                                                                                                    Let's see, how about "don't understand the SF food scene?" The "Brief history of San Francisco" article contains this: "In keeping with San Franciscans' health-conscious attitude, many of the cities eateries emphasize fresh, local organic products prepared simply to highlight their natural goodness."

                                                                                                    And the most interesting part is the restaurants that aren't there at all, like Cafe Claude, and Coco500, and about 2,500 others.

                                                                                                    1. re: Paul H

                                                                                                      That quote demonstrates the anonymous author's lack of understanding. There is an element of health-consciousness in the focus on fresh, local, organic products, but that's just one aspect of the slow food-type social / political movement against what we call globalization and the French call Americanization.

                                                                                                      1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                                        It's either a "lack of understanding," or perhaps the result of an editor's insistence on brevity. Do we really expect an essay on "the slow food-type social / political movement against what we call globalization" in a Michelin Guide?

                                                                                                        1. re: Paul H

                                                                                                          It would take no more words to clue French tourists in to the connection between the Bay Area's local / organic / sustainable movement and its European counterparts.

                                                                                                        2. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                                          Considering SF's current love affair with artisinal charcut and pizza, I think that "health conscious" is a very poor choice of words.

                                                                                                    2. "Chowhounds spurn established opinion to sniff out on their own secret deliciousness. The places they find today will show up in newspapers two years from now and in Zagat’s in four, when they’ll undoubtedly have grown crowded and overpriced. " from the CH FAQ,

                                                                                                      Why fret over "established" opinion like the Michelin guide or any other guide?

                                                                                                      IMHO, it's not about being anti-authority, but rather about deciding for oneself in a critical and educated manner while being open minded enough to appreciate a multitude of opinions.

                                                                                                      4 Replies
                                                                                                        1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                                          Yep, that's why ""Chowhounds spurn established opinion to sniff out on their own secret deliciousness." Fretting, on the other hand is not usually worth the effort.

                                                                                                        2. re: limster

                                                                                                          Gary Soup and Limster hit the nail on the head: the Guide Michelin is useful if you are a visitor or do not have the degree of familiarity that most hounds have with their home cities (and with their local Chowhound Boards). I do not feel the need to have the GM for San Francisco, but I like having it in Europe, and I feel it is a necessity for dining in France, especially outside Paris.

                                                                                                          Of course it has its biases. Of course it is not always consistent. And yes, it has made compromises, probably dictated by commercial considerations. But it has its uses, else there wouldn't be so many of us Chowhounds paying attention to what it says.

                                                                                                          1. re: pilinut

                                                                                                            I've always found the Michelin red guides useless. The selection seems arbitrary and they give you virtually no information.

                                                                                                            What I use in France is Gault-Millau and Sandra Gustafson. It's a shame Patricia Wells's "Food Lover's" guides to Paris and France haven't been updated in years but her Web site's still a good source for tips, and the books are still useful as general guides to neighborhoods and regions.


                                                                                                        3. Like I said in a post above, the MG in the US is like the AAA travel guide in France. Different filters for different audiences.

                                                                                                          1. My hope from all of this is that the Chron staff will start applying the same meticulous editing standards to their own error-filled pages they have so defensively dedicated to the Michelin; I know it's beyond hope that their reviewers make at least a pretense of adhering to their promise of anonymity.

                                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                                            1. re: Fine

                                                                                                              The Chron's reviewers make significant efforts to remain anonymous, such as using credit cards with pseudonyms. Michael Bauer's known to many people in the restaurant business but few if any know what Bill Addison looks like.

                                                                                                            2. As an epilogue, I recently dined at La Provence, where the new Michelin guide just happened to be sitting on the bar. As I was leafing through it, the restaurant owner, a charming white-haired Frenchman, began discussing the SF guide with me. He seemed generally satisfied with the guide, and as for his restaurant, he was pleased just to get an entry in the guide. He did, however, have one problem.

                                                                                                              "Why does Range get one star? Range is not as good as Fleur de Lys and La Folie! It should not get same rank as those restaurants, those are excellent restaurants!"

                                                                                                              That is a perfectly defensible argument, but I couldn't help noticing that he was basically complaining that the Michelin guide had spurned French restaurants in favor of a Californian one. Irony? I guess not. If the Michelin guide has a specific, Gallic audience, then I guess the new guide is just fine (or not Gallic enough!). The rest of us, of course, can ignore it.