LA Michelin Starred Restaurants ('09 Guide) just released ...
- a213b Oct 20, 2008 11:42 PM
Listed Below (3 rosettes, 2 rosettes,1 rosette ... I left off Bib Gourmand and other notable restaurants)
* * *
Dining Room at Langham
Trattoria Tre Venezie
You won't find Michelin L.A. in my library... I don't trust Michelin when it comes to L.A. They don't understand the diverse little gems in L.A., in my opinion.
Maybe it's 'cuz my focus is not as much on decor (as long as it's not filthy, I'm down), but rather on whether or not the FOOD is any good.
The Wikipedia entry on "Michelin Guide" is a good starting-point for understanding the Michelin system (but follow some of the links). I've read newspaper and magazine articles in the distant past in which the inspectors came across as very ordinary, ignorant, and uninspired critics, albeit valuable contacts if you have a flat tire or tyre.
In France, England, Italy, and elsewhere on the Continent, I've never been unhappy with a two- or three-star restaurant. Here, it's another thing. I disagree with many of the Los Angeles and, especially, San Francisco rankings. Cut Cut, and raise Valentino and the Dining Room at the Langham, for example. I wouldn't give a star to the Water Grill when neither the Stonehill Tavern in OC nor Downey's in Santa Barbara is anywhere on the list. Up north they give one star to the Village Pub in Woodside (a decent place) but nothing to the Zuni Cafe in San Francisco (a tremendous place)? And that same single star to Chez Panisse? They should have awarded Alice Waters two stars at least and begged our forgiveness for not understanding the American approach to fine eating.
And that may well be the problem outside the friendly confines of Europa: they don't get it. I see much evidence (but not in every case) that they march to the beat of the loudest drums.
I would really like to hear from a Tokyo-knowledgeable 'hound on the quality of the ratings over there.
I'm actually pretty surprised. Usually a Michelin star indicates not just excellent food (which Zo certainly has) but also excellent service, nice decor, and excellent all-around experience (which Zo may or may not have, depending on who you ask). While many of us on the L.A. board have received consistently excellent service at Zo, many others (myself included) have complained of poor treatment there. And the strip mall location and decor certainly lack allure. So I'm not saying that Zo doesn't deserve it's star--based on food alone, it does--I'm merely expressing surprise that someplace with a lackluster atmosphere and controversially inconsistent service got a star.
Actually, I'm wrong--they don't take service or other factors into account, just the food. Here's the criteria, from the Michelin website (for justeat and others who were wondering):
The Michelin Guide uses a system of symbols to identify the best hotels and restaurants within each comfort and price category. For restaurants, Michelin stars are based on five criteria:
* The quality of the products
* The mastery of flavor and cooking
* The "personality" of the cuisine
* The value for the money
* The consistency between visits
Michelin stars are awarded to restaurants offering the finest cooking, regardless of cuisine style. Stars represent only what is on the plate. They do not take into consideration interior decoration, service quality or table settings.
I'm very surprised to see Gordon Ramsay on the list. The restaurant must have barely been open a couple of months when the reviewers visited. I'm not doubting the quality of his food or whether the star is deserved but the restaurant hadn't even had a chance to get on it's feet by then. It seems like he was given a star based on the performance of his other restaurants and his reputation overall.
Like Servorg, I'm thrilled to see Zo on the list.
There are definitely some quality restaurants in the list for 2009 (ones that Chowhounders would agree with (e.g., Urasawa, Providence)), but nothing too surprising, except that Craft was left off the list.
The Bib Gourmand section (I believe the '2 Dishes + 1 Glass of Wine for under $40') is odd. Is it just the price? Good quality food of a certain level? In that list, Michelin lists:
* Honda-ya (I didn't see which one, but if they list the Little Tokyo branch then that's the final confirmation that Michelin is clueless on quality at great Japanese Izakayas in L.A.). Regardless of that, Honda-ya Tustin is good, but there are better Izakayas around L.A. / O.C.
And they list Triumphal Palace over Sea Harbour(!) - really? Surprising as well.
Yeah, I've eaten at almost every restaurant on the list, and some of those rankings really do confuse me. I'm surprised Craft is not on there for a star (though no more).
But more importantly, like several others have pointed out, I think Michelin reviewers are locked into their continental ways, for lack of a better way of putting it. I think, for them, unless it looks, sounds, walks, and tastes like a duck, it's not getting those rosettes.
I don't think they necessarily understand the differences between dining here in the US and "across the pond" ... especially in California.
Tasting menus. I've never seen this as criteria for a star, but the only difference I see is that all the starred restaurants offer tasting menus, and usually wine pairings.
I've had nothing but great experiences my three times at Craft, but you have to put together your own tasting menu. It is very, very a la carte. I suspect that this informality probably costs them a star.
Dining is subjective. It's like seeing a trailer for a movie you're excited about. Then the reviews start to appear and suddenly you're not excited anymore because some failed producer or movie fanatic is getting paid to tell you that you should not spend your money on said film. I will still go to the movie because I liked what initially attracted my attention. I want to see for myself. So what do the movies have to do with this board? Nothing, really. But I hope that people will still visit a restaurant they are interested in, regardless of what a guide book or review tells them. I strongly believe that the Michelin Guide holds more importance to the people working in those restaurants. The results of these reviews and ratings is a way for them to measure their achievements, see how close they are to reaching their goals, whatever they may be. Am I more apt to dine at a restaurant that has received a coveted star? Not necessarily but what the guide does provide me with is a handy quick reference list of places to dine at when I am bored with my current choices. All this said, my only critique about this year' s guide is that The London should not have been considered for the 2009 guide as it has only been open since June. I am sure Gordon Ramsay is worthy however, there are other, more established places that achieved a star after much hard work and attention to service and detail. To throw a bone to a new restaurant like The London is like a kick in the face to these established places. I don't care who the chef is, a new restaurant always has kinks to work out in the beginning and I don't think there is anything that innovative going on at the London so early in the game to make them deserve to be in this book right now. Will I go to The London now that the Michelin Guide has deemed them star worthy? No. I'll go next year, once consistency has been established and I will judge for myself.
re: The Sauce
I wonder why Urasawa got 2 stars while his former employer, Masa in NYC got 3. Masa definitely deserves 3, but I don't find the food at one distinguishably better than at the other. Although I did prefer the more intimate dining experience at Urasawa.
I don' t understand the exclusion of OC restaurants. Were they not deemed good enough or was OC just not included? Marche Moderne and Stonehill Tavern would be able to replace a number of the restaurants given stars.
Should Bastide be on the list when they changed chefs not too long ago? And though I've never been, I have to agree that it's too soon to put Gordon Ramsay on the list. I think perhaps the GR name has something to do with it.
Everyone here seems to think Patina hasn't been on top of its game in years. Does it still deserve a star?
Urasawa deserves three stars.
Splichal is definitely a talented chef. When he had 7th St. Bistro (mid 80's) - I thought it was the best, most creative food in the city. (and a unique location too). Patina group - the one downtown is pretty good - Pinto in Studio City (or is it Sherman Oaks?) used to be good - very good even. My fav restaurant in the valley. But if fell off eventually. The last time I went there I remember getting an Osso Buco that instead of falling off the bone tender, it was tough. I regret not giving them serious grief over that. And that was probably four or five years ago.