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Michelin Stars and Ontario [moved from Ontario board]

c
chef223 Sep 28, 2007 06:59 PM

[NOTE: We've moved this thread digression from the discussion at http://www.chowhound.com/topics/44448... - THE CHOWHOUND TEAM ]

since you've eaten at three and two michelin star restos, I'm curious where would rate Eigensinn Farm on a Michelin level?

  1. Charles Yu Sep 29, 2007 04:12 PM

    By asking this question, you do realize that you might open up a flood gate for a heated debate?!
    On paper. even though Michelin claims that they only award their 'star' system based on 'food' only, I believe almost all gourmand CH with Michelin dining experiences under their belt will attest to the fact that if the overall service, wine list and atmosphere/decor are NOT up to snuff, then the chance of an establishment getting 2* and beyond status is pretty,pretty slim even though the food might be out of this world!! As such, since EF does not provide a 'complete' dining experience, therefore, if and when Michelin does decide to rate Ontario restaurants, the most EF will get, in my opinion, will be one star. On the other hand, a restaurant like Splendido, MIGHT get 2 stars based on the fact that in addition to the food, the other components might meet the 'total packsge' criteria. However, based on my own personal Michelin star experience, I believe Splendido, which I find resembles a lot to NYC's one star - Cafe Boulud might get only a single star.
    Lastly, of all the 'European' 2*-3* establishments which I have been to, I find almost all of them were quite 'grand and palatial'; with tons of floral displays, Riedel stemware with edged-on logos, Limouges China and Christofle cutleries...( eg., Les Crayeres, Le Grand Vefour, Lasserre, Taillavant, L'esperance, Le Cinq, Guy Savoy...). The only exceptions being the historical 'Jamin' by Joel Robouchon or George Blanc. Both of these meccas were nice and cozy and definitely not 'grand'! by anymeans. But then Robouchon is Robouchon and George Blanc is George Blanc. Anyways, when in Europe, the best way to go is to eat at 'carefully picked' one star. Very often their food, though less elaborately presented, taste better than their bigger brothers. And, if one would like to splurge, I would, for example, stay away from big cities like Paris but would drive down south to those along the 'Burgundy trail' or even head east to Alsace. Price is at least 20-30% cheaper!!

    17 Replies
    1. re: Charles Yu
      Charles Yu Sep 29, 2007 04:33 PM

      Sorry! I think I headed off on a tangent a bit!!

      1. re: Charles Yu
        Recyclor Sep 29, 2007 04:38 PM

        ,,,I like the tangent, so maybe there is a need for an new thread on this, but, for now: why hasn't (or won't?) Michelin rate Ontario spots?

        1. re: Recyclor
          Charles Yu Sep 29, 2007 04:54 PM

          For one, not enough Michelin calibre restaurants in Ontario alone!!! From correspondence I had with Michelin's North America marketing manager a while back, I was told that if Michelin does decide to venture into Canada, the guide will be a combo of Ontario plus Quebec ( may be even BC ). Likewise, their next North America target, now that NYC and San Francisco/wine region are out of the way, will be one that combines say, Chicago, Philadelphia, Washington etc. That way they will have ENOUGH material to put together a guide containing at least a few multi-star calibre restaurants. Eg, In Chicago, Blu, Charlie Trotter, Arlania...in Philadelphia, Le Bec Fin and Marmoto, near Washington, The inn at Little Washington etc.,

          1. re: Charles Yu
            Recyclor Sep 29, 2007 04:59 PM

            ..as always, very informative, thanks Charles...

            1. re: Recyclor
              c
              chef223 Sep 30, 2007 12:55 PM

              thanks but my question remains , where would EF rate I think that if some people rate Splendido as a possible 2 star, then I would say that EF would be ranked at least as the same. I agree that Splendido has a more complete dining experience as far as the service, but I wonder what the name Stadtlander would rank amonf other chefs.

              1. re: chef223
                estufarian Oct 1, 2007 12:45 PM

                EF would not get a star, or a Bib, or anything else.
                It doesn't have a winelist - that's an essential part of the equation.
                You also don't get a choice of menu - another potential problem.
                And the ambiance certainly doesn't inspire.
                HOWEVER, Michelin is only one opinion. EF is still a great place to experience.

                1. re: estufarian
                  Charles Yu Oct 1, 2007 03:34 PM

                  Hello estufarian. Welcome back!
                  Interesting! I was just about to say the SAME thing about the 'star' when you pre-empted me.

                  1. re: Charles Yu
                    c
                    chef223 Oct 1, 2007 04:30 PM

                    Your trying to tell me that a restaurant ranked 9th in the world wouldn't get a Michelin star. Interesting opinion , I would have to disagee seeing as Stadlander is the only Canadian Chef to grace the world's greatest restaurant list twice, and is known as one of the best chefs in Country. Oh and by the way 1 MIchelin star is granted to a restaurant that keeps the food seasonal , local and fresh , so I would assume that EF fits the bill. Also ,are you telling me that Chez Panisse is awarded one MIchelin and EF wouldn't be , that's absurd. I'm tired of people always downgrading our Canadian resto's , I think we have some of the best restaurants in the world and only people who haven't actually cooked professionally would really disagree.

                    1. re: chef223
                      c
                      chef223 Oct 1, 2007 05:25 PM

                      I was reviewing the New York and San Fransisco Michelin star guides and I don't see Toronto having any 3 star resto's. Also Chez Panisse got one star , and the only reason it wasn't 2 was because of the atmosphere. So in humble opinon EF would be a one to two star restaurant, considering Peter Lugers is a one star in New York. Splendido and mabye Susur also 2 stars. I think that we could have a decent number of one stars also.

                      1. re: chef223
                        Charles Yu Oct 1, 2007 06:40 PM

                        Just for fun, I have performed the following analysis:
                        Currently, the ONLY point/star rating system that covers BOTH EF and Susur is that of James Chatto's Toronto life restaurant review. Neither Toronto Star nor Zagat covers both EF AND Susur. Chatto currently gives both EF and Susur 4.5*. (ie., near perfection!). Therefore, per your posting above, if Susur is a 2* then so should EF. HOWEVER, during the Iron Chef battle with Bobby Flay a while back, Susur only managed to TIE him!! No doubt you will also notice from your NYC Michelin Guide that none of Flay's restaurant receive any Michelin star. So, the $64K question is: 'How can Susur be a Michelin star chef, let alone 2*, if he can't even beat a non-Michelin star one'? Now, assume EF and Susur are indeed rated identical, then applying the same logic and deduction, EF should also fall short of getting a Michelin star!!.
                        QED!
                        But then this is only on paper. In reality, things aren't always that simple and Michelin's rating aren't always foolproof. I've eaten in 13 three stars and 18 two stars and I can tell you I can easily identify at least a handful of star rated establishments which I am in disagreement with. For example, I beleive Daniel in NYC should be a 3* whilst Le Bernardin should only be 2* at most!

                      2. re: chef223
                        estufarian Oct 2, 2007 07:45 AM

                        I wouldn't trust the ratings of anybody who rated EF 9th in the world!.
                        It's good, probably (one of) the best in Ontario - but does any Canadian restaurant deserve to be in the top 50 in the world?
                        Only one International list has ever thought so!
                        And Chez Panisse probably does deserve 1 * (in my book anyway) - certainly no more!
                        And Michelin doesn't give 1* to EVERY restaurant that keeps the food seasonal, local and fresh. Only those that meet all its criteria.
                        For example, consider Etxeberri, south of Bilbao - around an hour, in the middle of nowhere (comparable to EF being 2 hours north of Toronto). It doesn't get ANY Michelin stars, despite being in "many" top 50 (or 100) lists (and more significantly in my top 10!).
                        They grill everything. The food is sourced locally (the doves we had there had been trapped the night before); on the grill, he only uses wood from the mountain that he chops himself. All the servers are locals and the chef grew up in that village (of less than 100 people). Still no Michelin stars!

                        1. re: estufarian
                          e
                          erly Oct 2, 2007 01:21 PM

                          I am really enjoying this thread.
                          It would be wonderful to have a permanent spot to discuss * restaurants, ... and reviews.
                          One stars that are rising, and three stars that are falling.
                          We would then get a better idea of what to expect, and the style of each chef.
                          For example we ate at 3* De Karmeleit about a year and a half ago.
                          It was a waste for us, as each course was heavier than the other, and almost all dishes contained volumes of cream.
                          I must admit that the creamed wild mushroom soup was outstanding.
                          But, the mere sight of the volume of desserts arriving made me ill (after the cream courses).
                          But if you like quantity, and very rich foods, the restaurant would be ideal.
                          Also good and bad choices at a particular restaurant, similar to our recent choice of the Seafood tasting menu at Rostang. bad choice.
                          Probably would have had a different opinion altogether had we been there in December when he makes his truffled dishes.

                          1. re: erly
                            c
                            chef223 Oct 2, 2007 01:35 PM

                            The is a ridiculous statement saying "does any Candadian restaurant deserve to be in the top 50 in the world", I'm tired of people constantly bad mouthing Canadian restaurants , I know we don;t have the same restos as Paris , Spain , New York ( no arguement there), but I'm tired of people constantly downgrading our resto's here. Susur, Stadtlander, Thuet, Lee, Didier are world class chef's , trust me I have cooked a few of these people and Canada as a country is not given the respect we deserve. EF's food is way above the level of food served at Chez Panisse , and stating that Susur tied Bobby Flay in Iron Chef is by no means a decent discussion point. Also, to keep with tha logic Rob Feenie won on Iron Chef , so he's resto should be a 2 Michelin star restaurant. The List that you don't trust is a very reputable , and if you noticed when Susur was on Top Chef the list itself was mentioned. If you look at the Fat Duck website or any resto's website that has been on the list , you will see they proudly state the list in there reviews and accomplishments.

                            1. re: chef223
                              Charles Yu Oct 4, 2007 03:53 PM

                              There's an article on 'Wine Access' top 100 restaurants in Canada' on this board which should interest you. Stadtlander may be a good chef, but as estufarian eluded to previously, since EF does not have a wine list, a la carte menu and questionable ambience it doesn't even make the aforementioned list let alone Michelin star rating. Thats the restaurant not the man though!

                              1. re: Charles Yu
                                c
                                chef223 Oct 4, 2007 06:55 PM

                                Wine Access and the Michelin Guide are two completely different things. Wine Access guide is dedicated to the best resto's with wine lists . hence why there is no EF. Before someone had said that EF wasn't in the Zagat but it actually is the food was given the highest rating at 29. So if the MIchelin guide is really about food, then there should be at least A star in store for good ole Stadtlander.

                                1. re: chef223
                                  Charles Yu Oct 4, 2007 07:03 PM

                                  Guess to be fair for chefs worldwide, Michelin should create a star rating system for the 'chef' and one for the 'restaurant' Ha!

                            2. re: erly
                              Charles Yu Oct 3, 2007 06:51 AM

                              Yes, these discussions are fun! Pity Michelin doesn't extend to other food mecca places such as Hong Kong, Singapore, Japan, Australia etc., Some of the 'Japanese chef' run places scatterted all ovet the world have really top notch food!! Talk about truffled dishes. Robouchon's 'truffle tasting menu' which he cooked in his Macao outpost - Robouchon a Galera ( a 2* standard restaurant ) every year was magnificent! Cost around US$200 for a ten course dinner. A real steal!

        2. e
          erly Sep 29, 2007 08:45 AM

          I have never eaten at EF farms, as the couple of times I have attempted to make reservations they have been booked.
          We will attempt it again in the spring.
          Have eaten at Susur and Splendido many times.
          I have never enjoyed Susur, and preferred the old days at Lotus.
          Splendido is for me the closest in T.O.
          I was really attempting to convey the concept that each persons concept is based on personal experience, and expectations.
          For example, last week, I was in heaven at L'Amboisie, and very disappointed with Rostang (which was more costly ).
          I felt ripped off at Leon de Lyon, and fell deeply in love with Le Bec
          I am sure that others would challenge my subjective response.
          Sort of like the Bagel debate here.

          5 Replies
          1. re: erly
            Charles Yu Sep 29, 2007 07:38 PM

            What was your rationale in choosing Leon de Lyon? It had been down graded by both Michelin and Gault Millau a few years back and never recovered. Did you have a car during your trip? Should have driven to Cote St.Jacques, Cote d'or, Paul Bocuse or further down to Georges Blanc or Troigros. Oh well!!

            1. re: Charles Yu
              e
              erly Sep 30, 2007 03:16 AM

              Charles,
              Lacombe is retiring this fall, and, we had never eaten at Leon.
              The meal was no better than at one of his Brasseries.
              Poorly thought out (new) menu, cheap ingredients,
              One of my main complaints with Susur, and his tasting menu, as well
              Have eaten at Bocuse a couple of times, and while I enjoy the flair and presentation, I don't get too excited about the food.
              Now, Le Bec is another story.
              He deserves a 3rd *
              LeBec is a "Class Act", all around.
              We did not have a car on this trip, as it was mainly business, and a little gastronomical pleasure.

              1. re: erly
                Charles Yu Sep 30, 2007 08:21 AM

                Hello erly, Good Morning! What beautiful weather we are having!
                Interesting to find two Torontonians chatting about 'French' Michelin star restaurants!! After reading your comments and accolades on LeBec, I have made a 'huge special' entry in my 'must go places to eat journal'. Will definitely pay it a visit the next time I head out France way. Unfortunately, my current travel is mostly to the Orient, therefore, 'Ryugin' ( the Japanese food and wine pairing mecca) in Tokyo is on top of my list whilst Tatsuya of Sydney is second.
                Lastly, guess we are one of those few CHs in the 'Not a fan of Susur' camp!! Ha! Two things that really upset me about Susur's cuisine are the hefty price he charges on his sometimes 'Glorified Chinese food' which he tried to pass on as Haute fusion cuisine. And secondly, his 'reversed' tasting menu approach. How can any chef with a decent understanding about food and wine pairing proposes such a ridiculous approach??!! And he was so upset when he only managed to tie with Bobby Flay-a non Michelin star chef in the Iron Chef contest! Hate to imagine how arrogant he will get if he wins? A price increase for sure!

                PS: Remember any 'stand-out' dish from LeBec worth mentioning? One of my most memorable 'good' one was at Les Crayeres, before Michelin took away a star from Boyer ( getting old may be? ). A deboned foie gras/truffles stuffed pig's foot. The taste and TEXTURE was amazing! A fine example of balancing cheap ingredients with expensive ones. The 'wagyu beef' pot au feu by Splendido's David Lee which I had a few months back was pretty good too!! I can still taste the broth!!

                1. re: Charles Yu
                  e
                  erly Oct 1, 2007 04:30 AM

                  Charles.
                  The entire meal was balanced.
                  The lightly glazed Sweetbreads were memorable, as were most dishes.
                  I especially enjoyed the ambience.
                  As relaxed as you can get in a 2*
                  I wrote a review (very long) on the French board, and listed the entire meal.
                  For me, a clarity of taste is important.
                  Too many chefs use so many ingredients, that the taste of the actual course is masked.
                  With Le Bec, this never occured.
                  We ventured to do a wine pairing, which is rare for us now, as my husband has developed a serious allergy to tanin, so just white wines, and they were so accomodating.
                  My first ever 3* experience was at Bocuse, and that was so long ago, 30 yrs, perhaps (or more).
                  I was awed by the food and presentation.
                  A few days later we ate in Moulin, and sampled the food of Roger Verge.
                  disappointingly simple (compared to Bocuse who served us a fish with each fish scale a puff pastry work of art)
                  However each Verge dish had the clarity of taste, and to me was true perfection.
                  I know that Verge was not a favourite of other chefs, especially after he went commercial, but he set my standard.
                  We had dinner at Taillevant about a week later, and after Moulin, it was a disappointment.
                  Incidentally, my husband had a very similar dish at Les Crayes some time back.
                  I very much enjoyed the food there.

                  1. re: erly
                    Charles Yu Oct 1, 2007 05:48 PM

                    Hello erly,
                    Many, many years ago, whilst working in Paris, I came across an article about Bocuse, Verge and Lenotre joining forces to act as food consultants to Disney on its Epcot French Pavillion. To see for myself first hand what the hype is all about, I made special trips to Collonges and Mougins to sample their creations. Unfortunately, at that time, I was still pretty 'green' to the Michelin Haute cuisine scene and didn't pay much attention to the detail of the individual dishes. Apart from remembering that I had a lot of foie gras, truffles, langoustines, Ris de Veau etc and that all poultries such as pigeonneau and volaille were from Bresse, I have no recollection of a single dish in detail - except one!! Paul Bocuse's Soupe aux Truffes with a puff pasrty crust covering the bowl. What flavour, what aroma, what a masterpiece!! Oh, another thing I remember, though not food related, is Bocuse's building - Orange, yellow and green!! I wonder what prompted him to use such wierd colour scheme on his building?! Lastly, thanks to Gaston Lenotre, I am now a 'Dessert Addict'. However, the best piece of French pastry I had in France wasn't by him but a piece of 'Tarte Normande' from a small pastry shop in the 15e!!. The buttery crust, the apples, the custard, the toasted almonds all combined to make every bite a taste of heaven!!

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