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Would the Michelin Guide Be Relevant in Canada? (moved from Ontario board)

s
Snarf May 15, 2009 08:35 PM

The Guide Michelin seems to be a benchmark in many places as to where to dine, or not to, and the number of stars a place might have seems to drive the public in that direction. There are many who check off starred restaurants the way others notch their belts. As the Guide has not reviewed Canadian restaurants, should we view our own perception of our restaurants as sufficient and adequate to give guidance to visitors? Have we evolved in a different direction where the criteria for the Guide are irrelevant?

  1. skylineR33 May 15, 2009 09:16 PM

    I think if there is ever a Michelin Guide for Toronto (I really don't think there is any chance, well maybe after they finish the one of Shanghai, Beijing, Singapore, Taiwan...........................), and people follow it to collect stars, those people will miss a lot of real yummy food in Toronto because non of the chinese restaurant will be getting any star here for sure.

    1. t
      tjr May 15, 2009 10:21 PM

      I think restaurants in Toronto have suffered because it's Toronto. There have been several threads on why Toronto restaurants don't, in general, measure up to the standards of world-class restaurants (Paris, Hong Kong, Tokyo, etc.) Toronto isn't a city centered on tourism, etc. etc. It's been spoken to numerous times on the board.

      I personally think that if Michelin came here, LWH would at least get a star. Splendido was maybe a 2-star at its peak. There are some others that may rank at 1-star, but only if there was a drop in standards.

      I don't think Michelin stars are relevant for Toronto. Vancouver, perhaps. Notice how big name chefs have decided to open restaurants there?

      I agree with skylineR33; Toronto's best food is high-end Chinese cuisine. We have some decent restaurants, but compared to the type of food served up in other cities, we're severely lacking, except in Chinese (compared to other North American cities).

      Judging by Michelin's attempt at judging HK, I don't think they'd properly evaluate Chinese restaurants here. No one having visited numerous Michelin-starred restaurants would be impressed by our non-Chinese restaurants; comparing top restaurants in France to those here is an absurdity.

      Those of us who have the opportunity may be nostalgic, but Toronto has its own benefits. If you're looking for restaurants of equivalent cuisine to 3-star restaurants in Paris, Snarf, you won't find them here. Could you find Chinese in Paris as good as that of Toronto? Probably not! Having eaten at Michelin-starred Chinese in Japan, I think the ones in Toronto are better. French? No. Japanese? No. Anything but Chinese? Probably not.

      It's a common sense issue.

      1. aser May 16, 2009 01:07 AM

        In N. America alone, Chicago, Miami and Vancouver all deserve an edition before we even get a sniff. Where does that leave us once you factor in the rest of the world?

        I'm not sure if anyone caught it, but CBC's Doc Zone did a detailed feature on food. One segment focused on the launch of HK"s Michelin guide, interviewing Jean-Luc Naret, the head honcho of Michelin. Also included was some choice bits on Lei Garden, especially the interview w/ Chan Shu Kit, the big boss (7 & 39 min mark). Charles & Skyline will get a kick out of spotting Yung Kee. The producers did their homework it seems.

        http://www.cbc.ca/documentaries/great...

        It's just the reality of the city. We can't compete on that level because of the lack of demand. Quality ingredients of 3 star magnitude ain't coming to Toronto, simply put.

        Charles brought up a good example in Eleven Madison Park (another thread), which didn't even get 1 star (an error imo). My friend that worked there told me they would only serve seafood brought in that day. If it didn't sell, it would either go towards staff meal or in the bin/city harvest. Trust me when I say no restaurant in Toronto comes close to that level of standard. Not Splendido, not Canoe, not Colborne Lane, etc.......

        As to what foo foo Toronto joint I think deserves a star if following the global standards of Michelin? Splendido, well at least until the end of June.

        1 Reply
        1. re: aser
          skylineR33 May 16, 2009 09:15 AM

          Aser, thanks for the video, very nice ! I will watch the whole thing when I get time.

        2. jayt90 May 16, 2009 06:07 AM

          Whether we like it or not, Michelin's current expansion of restaurant ratings is related to world wide tire sales. In our part of North America, Michelin might consider Chicago or Montreal more important, but Toronto has to be on their horizon, It is too bad Eigensinn and Splendido are both somewhat unsettled, but they might very well be visited by the newly expanded staff of Michelin inspectors. Eigensinn is definitely worth a side trip.

          29 Replies
          1. re: jayt90
            s
            Snarf May 16, 2009 08:15 AM

            Eigensinn is probably the most obvious example of a restaurant with high praise that wouldn't make it through the initial screens, thus begging the question of whether the guide would be relevant here. No wine list, generally no table cloths, no high end china.

            1. re: Snarf
              skylineR33 May 16, 2009 09:14 AM

              FYI, there are restaurants which does not have wine list, no table cloths, no high end china which can get michelin star. So whether Eigensinn Farm get a star or not will be the point whether the guide is relevant or not.

              1. re: skylineR33
                Charles Yu May 16, 2009 03:48 PM

                You're right skylineR33! All the three Michelin 1* 'soba Kaiseki' have only wooden tables. Both Okina and Takeyabu don't have wine list either. Though baren looking, decor is pretty nice though!

            2. re: jayt90
              Charles Yu May 16, 2009 04:00 PM

              According to Michelin's definition, your assigning Eigensinn a 'worth a side trip' status means its a two star! Based on my experience eating there and comparing the food to all the two stars that I have eaten worldwide. All I can say is 'NO WAY'!! How can Eigensinn's food be better than Daniel (NYC), Michael Mina (SF), L'Atalier Robuchon ( Paris, HK and Tokyo ), Les Crayeres ( Reims ), Michel Rostang ( Paris ).....etc!! The meal that I had at SF's MASA was absolutely gorgeous, almost perfect and better than a number of Parisian 3* like Grand Vefour. However, the restaurant is only a 1*!!!

              1. re: Charles Yu
                s
                Snarf May 16, 2009 04:36 PM

                With regard to your last statement, isn't that the key to the discussion? There is a noticeable bias in the guide towards preferring French cuisine, and not giving top marks unless there is formal service and a good wine list. Very few restaurants serving local cuisine gain any traction in that environment, though many think that to be a prevailing philosophy in food today. Also, the notion of sustainability is somewhat ignored by the guide.

                Very few Canadian restaurants are going to have wine lists with any degree of vertical availability, as most provinces heavily restrict the secondary market.

                If you (anyone reading this post) were to put forward a list of criteria and weighting for what should comprise the equivalent of a 3 star, what would be on that list? What would be complete deal-breakers?

                1. re: Snarf
                  t
                  tjr May 16, 2009 04:40 PM

                  That's not necessarily true. The Japanese guide has a lot of Japanese restaurants on the menu, and the inspectors the second time around were nearly entirely (or entirely) Japanese -- and that really didn't change the options. These restaurants don't have the same formal service of a palace restaurant, and decor can be sparse or extremely limited. Some have no wine at all.

                  Very few restaurants in Toronto have food worthy of Michelin stars, based on the Michelin-starred restaurants in which I've eaten.

                  Michelin describes how they supposedly rate restaurants on their own website, with their criteria. You should go and look at it.

                  1. re: tjr
                    skylineR33 May 16, 2009 06:35 PM

                    However, for the nine 3-star in the Japanese guide, there are three French and only one "traditional" kaiseki restaurant (Hamadaya, which does not consider to be the best "traditional" kaiseki by most of the people). Personally, this does not sound right to me ... which make me think the guide bias towards French cuisine and have doubt on the Japanese food experience of the judges.

                    1. re: skylineR33
                      t
                      tjr May 16, 2009 06:54 PM

                      I think this is because the guide is supposed to cater to tourists (though it sold incredibly well in Japan). I suppose we'll see when the Kansai edition comes out? Most of the big name French chefs don't have restaurants out there, so I'm imagining it might focus more on Japanese food of styles other than sushi.

                      There's always going to be stuff missing though; I find that the Tokyo guide is reasonably accurate as to where I'd place the restaurants I've visited, though it's obviously missing out on a lot of good restaurants, and some restaurants that are pretty bad are overrated. 3/9 restaurants being French seems like there isn't really much of a bias, considering the cuisines considered generally seem to be French, Japanese and Italian (in Japan). I left my 2009 one at the office, but the 2008 one has about 90 Japanese restaurants, 5 Chinese, 45 French, 8 Italian, 2 Spanish, 2 "Steakhouse." The majority of the 3-stars are Japanese.

                      I agree there's a lot left out, but in the Japanese rankings, I don't think you could necessarily say that there was a French cuisine bias just on numbers alone; but I'd have to say that they've missed a lot of Japanese restaurants, while the French ones were pretty much well-covered with a few exceptions.

                      1. re: tjr
                        skylineR33 May 16, 2009 07:27 PM

                        Right, the Kansai edition should have more Japanese food of different styles.

                        In the 2008 Tokyo guide, for the 3 stars, there are 3 French restaurants and 5 Japanese restaurants (in which 2 of them serves sushi).

                        That's true, the guide is supposed to cater to tourists. That's why I do use the HK guide as I am from HK. The Japanese Guide probably has more success than the HK guide. In fact, all my friends in HK of all age group do not use it at all. Their French selection in the HK guide is pretty accurate though.

                        1. re: skylineR33
                          s
                          Snarf May 16, 2009 07:52 PM

                          In terms of the inclusions of restaurants in the HK guide, are there glaring examples of good restaurants which are not included? I'm curious as to how many seem to be excluded versus how many are included.

                          HK and Japan are probably some of the better places in the world to acid test the effectiveness of the guide, as the local cuisines have an inherent sophistication which is not dependant on wine as an accompaniment, and which arguably exceed French cuisine in terms of complexity and effort in many circumstances. I say this from the point of view of someone from a mostly Celtic ethnology, so I'm not trying to suggest a cultural bias.

                          1. re: Snarf
                            Charles Yu May 16, 2009 08:11 PM

                            IMO, the two or three really 'stand-out omission' of the Hong Kong Guide include the High -end continental cuisine - Gaddis in the Peninsula Hotel which I was expecting at least a star. The other one is the Italian 'Da Domenico' - arguably the best Italian restaurant ( foodwise ) in HK. This restaurant wasn't even mention in the guide! Since there are sooooo many good Chinese eateries in HK, omission of a few is expected.

                            1. re: Snarf
                              t
                              tjr May 16, 2009 08:55 PM

                              Well, the Tokyo guide went from mostly French inspectors to mostly Japanese inspectors, and the ratings didn't really change. So... Not sure if that says anything.

                              1. re: Snarf
                                skylineR33 May 16, 2009 09:09 PM

                                Yes, like those mentioned by Charles for non-chinese restaurant. For chinese restaurant, I think they got it all wrong. It is a bizarre list. Up until today, I have not seen a single one HK local food critics praise for the michelin rating. Some even gives harsh comment on it. From the list, I don't think they understand what HK has to offer at all. There are clearly better chinese restaurants in HK than the only 3-star chinese restaurant in the HK guide. There are 1 star restaurants (eg. Fook Lam Moon) which should get more. There are restaurants which should not be in the list (eg. Hutong, The Square).

                                Local favourite restaurants (which does not have a nice environment) such as Tin Heung Lau, Sheung Hing are nowhere to be seen in the list. Most local cuisine (except wonton noodle) are basically missing in action in the guide.

                                There is a thread in the China/HK board which talks about the Favourite dish in HK, there are only a few which belongs to the star restaurant in the HK Michelin Guide, even less belongs to 2/3 stars. So this gives you an idea how many great restaurant are missing in the guide.

                                http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/611837

                                1. re: Snarf
                                  skylineR33 May 16, 2009 09:39 PM

                                  Regarding the Tokyo Michelin guide, there is a bit of information. There is a famous Japanese food critics (友里征耶) which follow the guide and try all the restaurant and rate them. For those 3 stars restaurants, he gave non of them 3 star, except one of the French restaurant. And he gives the following 3-star restaurants ZERO stars.

                                  - Jiro (Ginza)
                                  - Hamadaya
                                  - Kanda

                                  1. re: skylineR33
                                    t
                                    tjr May 17, 2009 07:27 AM

                                    In case you're interested, this is the blog to which skylineR33 is referring: http://tomosatoyuya.moura.jp/

                                    It's a pretty fantastic read (if you can read Japanese).

                              2. re: tjr
                                Charles Yu May 17, 2009 08:25 AM

                                With so many fine restaurants in Tokyo, leaving out a few good ones is expected. However, based on my Tokyo dining experiences, I'm really stunned to see Iron Chef French - Sakai's flag ship 'La Rochelle' not included in the guide let alone given star rating. Stepping into the restaurant, watching the well seasoned staff performing their duties and being ushered to the table by the friendly Maitre D' reminds me of starting a culinary adventure in a well oiled 'Traditional' Parisian 2* - 3* like a Michel Rostang, Carre de Feuillente or Lucas Carton. As for the food! The food was amazing. A seafood terrine appertizer that I once had was so beautifully plated that it took me sometime before I was forced to destroy the art work. And the flavour! Layers and layers of it, originating from the multiple layers of langoustine, sea prawns, fresh crab meat, scallops, fish..etc and the sauce/oil drizzled in a floral pattern around it. The fish entree was a piece of Japanese snapper from the sea off Hokkaido which was another masterpiece and one of the best fish dishes I've ever eaten. Easily bested a similar dish that I once had at the Parisian seafood specialist 2* - Vivorois
                                All these attributes and get ignored?! If I was Sakai, I would be mad! Afterall he did beat out quite a few Michelin star chefs during his time on 'Iron Chef'
                                Such is the life of a chef in the Michelin universe - mega-frustration!!

                                1. re: Charles Yu
                                  t
                                  tjr May 18, 2009 09:00 AM

                                  I don't actually know, but in my mind I imagine that the French are still angry about the results of the King of Iron Chef Tournament, haha. I don't really understand how he was "forgotten" or "passed over" by the Guide; it doesn't make a lot of sense to me.

                                  1. re: tjr
                                    s
                                    Snarf May 18, 2009 09:09 AM

                                    No, their anger is based on William Shatner not reprising the role of Chairman after the pilot of the first American series. They still sting from Jerry Lewis not winning an oscar as well.

                          2. re: Snarf
                            skylineR33 May 16, 2009 05:51 PM

                            Snarf, I agree mostly to your post above. I would think about changing the title of this thread to "Would the Michelin Guide Be Relevant to the rest of the world besides Europe ?"

                            1. re: skylineR33
                              t
                              tjr May 16, 2009 06:34 PM

                              Or even Europe. There are enough people in European countries who don't agree with the rankings. I think either the problem is that Michelin isn't comprehensive enough, or that the judges saw something everyone else didn't see. Some restaurants deserve the praise, others don't, and others aren't even included.

                              1. re: tjr
                                Charles Yu May 16, 2009 08:16 PM

                                In the latest 'San Pelligrino top 100 best restaurant in the world'. After El Bulli and Fat Duck, the third best happens to be a restaurant in Copenhagan of all places!! Looks like Michelin is not the only guide thats coming out with some weird rating!

                                1. re: Charles Yu
                                  s
                                  Snarf May 16, 2009 08:25 PM

                                  Do you have a link for that? Sounds interesting. I'm reminded of the magazine articles that put Eigensinn highly rated (personally, have always liked his food), and puzzled about the accessibility of the experience to people who don't know that there are no hotels nearby.

                                  1. re: Charles Yu
                                    t
                                    tjr May 16, 2009 08:53 PM

                                    The Danes are currently at the height of continental cuisine at this point, according to a lot of different European critics!

                                    1. re: tjr
                                      s
                                      Snarf May 16, 2009 09:00 PM

                                      Any links? I don't follow this market generally. Curious about whether it's molecular, locavore, or simply trying to be more French than the French.

                                      1. re: Snarf
                                        t
                                        tjr May 16, 2009 09:03 PM

                                        souphie, one of the resident French hounds, has posted a bit about it on his blog: http://www.julotlespinceaux.com/

                                        1. re: tjr
                                          s
                                          Snarf May 16, 2009 09:10 PM

                                          Thanks for that.

                            2. re: Charles Yu
                              Charles Yu May 16, 2009 05:50 PM

                              My last statement was not 'cuisine' specific. I could have used a 3* Italian in Italy or Japanese in Tokyo or Chinese in Hong Kong as an example.

                              I am just trying to make a point that, in general, nowadays, food standard of Michelin star restaurants worlwide are so high that on a given night, even a lowly 1* in California at the top of its game, can cook up food that can even bested a Parisian 3*. As such, I believe for a 3* to be a 'genuine' 3*, Michelin should take into account of the 'whole package' ie., Food, Wine, Service, Ambience and Decor. Afterall, according to the guide, a 3* is one thats 'worthy of a SPECIAL TRIP'. And to me, if I am to take that special trip, I will be looking for more than just food. Great wine list and service plus memorable decor should be factored into the whole experience. My two cents worth!

                              1. re: Charles Yu
                                s
                                Snarf May 16, 2009 07:17 PM

                                One of the top sports to attrract nerds for statistics is baseball. Most of the websites these days have what are called 'sortable statistics', that look at a number of different benchmarks, and rank the teams based on these. So if you look at a typical reference chart, you can click on any one statistic category, and see the listings reranked based on that particular statistic.

                                There are undoubtedly those who are not as fussed with having table cloths, or the number of forks on the table. If such a matrix were to be created, what criteria would you folks suggest?

                                Example. If you were to consider which restaurants were the most creative and inventive in Canada, which ones would you suggest and why? Under the Michelin guidelines, these would likely be cordoned off in the special trip suburb, but maybe there are people who specialize in special trips?

                                1. re: Snarf
                                  Charles Yu May 16, 2009 08:27 PM

                                  No ifs or buts! Definitely 'SOOKE HARBOUR Restaurant' in Vancouver Island. Its like a really 'nicely decorated' version of an Eigensinn Farm but BY THE SEA! The food using ultra fresh seafood at its doorstep, organic products from its back garden, wild mushrooms from forests just down the road and Artisanal farm products.....etc is simply amazing!! Its definitely Michelin stars calibre!

                          3. Charles Yu May 16, 2009 06:33 AM

                            The only way Toronto will be featured in the guide is:

                            - Combined with other food centres such as Montreal and Quebec City

                            - Have enough 'world class 5 star' hotel in town to fill up the rear section of the guide. We might have better luck in this area than restaurants since we'll be seeing the completion of the Trump Tower, Ritz Carlton, Four Seasons ans Shangri La within the next couple of years.

                            On the food side, looking at how inconsistent Michelin evaluated and awarded stars to restaurants in New York, Hong Kong and Tokyo, any star given to Toronto establishments will be highly controversial. I have dined in restaurants that offer great food ( in many a case much better than what Toronto has to offer ) and IMHO deserve at least a star but were totally ignored by Michelin. A few include Aquavit, Degustation, Eleven Madison Park, Felidia,Sushi Yasuda and Le Cirque in NYC, Gaddis in Hong Kong, Jiro ( Roppongi branch ), La Rochelle ( Iron Chef French Sekai ) in Tokyo. If all of the afore mentioned establishments were left out, then using the same evaluation criteria and level playing field used by current Michelin inspectors, I will be surprise to see the current Toronto list will garner more than 5 one stars!!

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: Charles Yu
                              aser May 16, 2009 07:27 AM

                              How Jewel Bako made it over Yasuda/Kurumazushi baffles me to no end.

                              1. re: aser
                                k
                                KTinNYC May 16, 2009 03:11 PM

                                Michelin NYC is a joke and I don't think very many people take it seriously.

                                1. re: aser
                                  Charles Yu May 16, 2009 03:42 PM

                                  Agree!!! Me too!!

                              2. h
                                Harters May 16, 2009 03:32 PM

                                Michelin's UK awards are always a talking point on the other board whre I spend a lot of time. Who is up a star? Who is down one? How did they ever get in at all?

                                It's fun. Look at it as one measure of quality but not a sole decider. The 2009 awards brought some, erm, contraversial results and there was general feeling that "French" restaurants were getting a bounce from Michelin. Many of us thought they'd got over that sort of chauvinism. The chefs regard it as important - one of localish places has just been awarded its first star. Chef is thrilled. Rightly so - he serves imaginative food at a very affordable price (for that class of place)

                                IMO, where Michelin excels is in its "Bib Gourmand" awards. Not to be regarded as places that have just missed out on a star but good places in their own right but serving a three course meal for under a specified amount (which I think is £28 this year)

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: Harters
                                  w
                                  Wursthof May 16, 2009 06:15 PM

                                  The "Bib Gourmand" section has long been the reference for me for my primary dining forays in Europe. Rarely if ever has one of those restos listed in that section let me down. With respect to the stars, Helene Darroze was the biggest two star let down ever.
                                  Twice.

                                  1. re: Wursthof
                                    h
                                    Harters May 17, 2009 03:52 AM

                                    As I said, it can be inconsistent but when I look at the six starred restaurants in my own region (north west England), I'd have them being pretty much on the money for them being about the best in the area. All one star, by the way.

                                    I've eaten four of them in the last two years. All good meals and, whilst I'd put them in the "modern British" style of cuisine, there's more than a nod towards France. It may be that chefs have spinned it in that direction knowing the Michelin interest.

                                    Whilst I don't discount Michelin when deciding where to eat, I am much more interested in the wider offerings of the our Good Food Guide which, of course, includes the top offerings but also a very good range of more middle of the range sort of places (which I can better afford).

                                2. s
                                  Snarf May 16, 2009 09:46 PM

                                  Thank you all for your comments. From what you've said, I am making the conclusion that the guide is unreliable both in terms of its applicability and its execution, which leaves us with the question of what criteria we should have to judge restaurants in Canada objectively. Here is a suggestion, based on what people have said to date.

                                  Uniqueness of food
                                  Freshness of food
                                  Wine list
                                  Sustainability of ingredients
                                  Quality of service
                                  Quality of presentation
                                  Any other suggestions, or suggestions as to how to weight these? Thanks,

                                  3 Replies
                                  1. re: Snarf
                                    skylineR33 May 16, 2009 09:52 PM

                                    I personally think the michelin guide is quite accurate on its French restaurant selection. Your list is more suitable for restaurant in different kinds of European cuisine.

                                    1. re: skylineR33
                                      s
                                      Snarf May 16, 2009 10:06 PM

                                      I'm trying for a starting point, and recognize the fact that I'm not going to accurately capture the right terms for HK and Japanese cuisine. I'm looking for more of a list of criteria that we should look for to assess cuisines, and restaurants that Michelin is not using. Thanks.

                                    2. re: Snarf
                                      skylineR33 May 16, 2009 11:29 PM

                                      My 2 cents, I suggest :

                                      Stars reflect what is in the plate. A consistent selection is ensured base on the same criteria :

                                      - Product quality
                                      - Preparation and flavours
                                      - Chef's personality as revealed through his/her cuisine
                                      - Value for money
                                      - Consistency over time

                                      One star - means a very good restaurant in its category.
                                      Two star - mean excellent cooking, worth a detour.
                                      Three star - mean exceptional cuisine, worth a special journey.

                                      Guess what ? This is the official guideline of the Michelin Guide !!! No mention of wine, service, ambience. "Stars reflect what is in the plate".

                                      It just that rating needs to be done "CONSISTENTLY" instead of the all the inconsistency we see in Michelin !!!

                                    3. c
                                      condiment May 18, 2009 10:31 AM

                                      The Michelin Guide is irrelevant everywhere outside of France. I don't see why Canada would be an exception.

                                      26 Replies
                                      1. re: condiment
                                        h
                                        Harters May 18, 2009 10:47 AM

                                        Interested to learn why you think it only relevent in France. As I mentioned upthread, it is very relevent in the UK - but then we're only 22 miles away from France,

                                        1. re: condiment
                                          Charles Yu May 18, 2009 12:30 PM

                                          I too would like to know why you think its irrelevant outside of France?!!

                                          Just because the publication is French own does not mean it cannot be a good reference for us foodies to use as reference 'elsewhere' - including Canada. Afterall, for places outside of France, Michelin do hire a whole bunch of local experts as their anonomous inspectors to augment their existing pool of 'seasoned ones' before compiling the results for a new market. I also believe a trained palete is more important than the ethnic background of the food reviewers/publishers. Tasty food is tasty food be it French, Italian, Japanese or Chinese.

                                          Furthermore, popular guides like Fodor, Roemer, Zagat.... all offered reviews and reccommendations for restaurants outside of their home territories. If the same 'irrelevant' argument/rationale applies to them, then everyone in search of good food outside of the USA will be doing so in the blind!

                                          When I was living and working in Europe, my Michelin UK, Spain and Italy guides helped me out tremendously in my search for great food outside of France. Same can be said of the Tokyo and HK guides. Though by no means perfect, but its a great reference tool and most of their reccomendations are usually spot on.

                                          1. re: Charles Yu
                                            h
                                            Harters May 18, 2009 02:35 PM

                                            As you say, Charles, the Spain guide is very useful. The country is one of our major tourist destinations and it's helpful to be able to find non-touristy good food. We used the online version to help plan the eats for a fortnight in Mallorca

                                            1. re: Charles Yu
                                              c
                                              condiment May 21, 2009 06:36 PM

                                              Because if you follow Michelin in Italy, NYC, California, or Spain, you'd be missing out big time, unless your idea of a great restaurant extends mostly to heaviness of cutlery, acreage of marble or lavishness of flower arrangement. (I have definitely found it to be true with British restaurants , although my experience is admittedly more limited, and I've heard from people I trust that the Tokyo guide is less than useless, but I cannot confirm this independently.) Michelin measures restaurants by how well they adhere to an antique French standard - which makes less and less sense even in France, although there is certainly a case to be made for it there, and almost none outside of it.

                                              1. re: condiment
                                                t
                                                tjr May 21, 2009 06:49 PM

                                                According to Michelin, this isn't true.

                                                1. re: condiment
                                                  Charles Yu May 21, 2009 07:31 PM

                                                  I'm sorry. but I beg to differ!
                                                  Your comment might apply to 3*s, however, I've eaten in 'starred' establishments in Italy, NYC, California and Spain with decor and table service thats only passable and nothing to shout about. However, food was damn good though! tjr is correct. In almost all cases, quality of food always come first!

                                                  1. re: Charles Yu
                                                    s
                                                    Snarf May 21, 2009 07:52 PM

                                                    But this comes back to the initial question of this discussion. Does the guide when it's applied reflect the same perception of restaurants as before the guide is applied? The slanting towards cutlery and plates referenced perhaps explains why some might merit 3 versus 1, but when I put that in context of Chez Panisse only having 1, then it seems to me that the guide has lost relevance.

                                                    1. re: Snarf
                                                      Charles Yu May 21, 2009 09:10 PM

                                                      For the 3*s, I guess a popular Chinese proverb might apply: It goes something like - 'Though the bloom is nice, however, it still needs to be augmented by some green leaves'!
                                                      If a restaurant is not providing the 'whole package' experience, I guess, based on food alone, it'll be kind of tough to convince someone to 'make a special trip'?!!

                                                      1. re: Charles Yu
                                                        c
                                                        condiment May 22, 2009 01:40 AM

                                                        If your taste is that of an upper-middle-class French business traveler who would prefer not to encounter the unfamiliar, then certainly, Michelin is for you and mazel tov. No further discussion is necessary. If you prefer Italy to taste like Italy and California to taste like California though, perhaps other guides may be more helpful.

                                                        1. re: condiment
                                                          Charles Yu May 22, 2009 04:59 AM

                                                          Well, yes or no! IMO, if a restaurant is good then it should receive recognition by food/tourist guides be it Michelin, Zagat, Fodor..... etc. Good 'Contemporary California cuisine' restaurants like the 1* Range in SF or Redd in Napa, for example, both get deserve mentioning in all the guides that I followed. However, for 'hole in the wall' or out the place 'home cook' cooking then I agree a 'local' guide is much more helpful.

                                                          1. re: condiment
                                                            r
                                                            rletourn3 Nov 4, 2013 05:30 AM

                                                            I ate at a 1 michelin restaurant near san sebastian in spain and the food was clearly not french. No foie gras on the menu and it really represented a different kind of cooking. I would not of known about if they hadn't had a star.

                                                2. re: condiment
                                                  jayt90 May 18, 2009 01:21 PM

                                                  Some years ago this post would have relevant, condiment.

                                                  1. re: jayt90
                                                    s
                                                    Snarf May 18, 2009 03:50 PM

                                                    Here are a few points that seem to come out of the posts to date:
                                                    1. There's a perception that the Guide is skewed to prefer restaurants serving French cuisine (except for Sakai San's).
                                                    2. There are questions of politics and consistency in the awarding of stars
                                                    3. There's a perception that to be a three star restaurant, you have to follow a particular format, and
                                                    4. Readers doggedly follow the guide and are hesitant to go to places that aren't lauded.

                                                    In looking at these points, does that mean that Ontario, or even Canadian restaurants suffer from the absence of the benchmarks, or thrive from a lack of constriction?

                                                    Would Martin Picard be chided for serving Quebec duck livers? Would the nose to tail folks, and locavores, be shunned for failing to use non-Parma prosciutto?

                                                    Since there are a number of folks commenting on different regions of the world that the Guide covers, a general question. Are the standards the same across the board? Is three stars in Tokyo the same as one star in San Francisco? One wonders if there are culinary exchange rates.

                                                    1. re: Snarf
                                                      h
                                                      Harters May 19, 2009 05:53 AM

                                                      Snarf

                                                      I can't comment about "exchange rates" as I havnt eaten in a starred restaurant outside the UK, in recent times. I have, however, eaten at Bib Gourmand places in several European countries and would take the view that there is pretty much a consistency of quality. That might be echoed across the starring system.

                                                      1. re: Snarf
                                                        Charles Yu May 19, 2009 07:11 AM

                                                        Based on my experiences, in general, the ratings are fairly consistent across continents and cuisine. Obviously, when comparing, one needs to compare apples with apples ie say, French with French or Italian with Italian. If this criteria is adhered to, then A 3* French in Tokyo is as good , if not better than a 3* in Paris!!

                                                        1. re: Snarf
                                                          skylineR33 May 19, 2009 07:27 PM

                                                          I think it is generally a good guide for tourist as this is supposed to be the purpose of it. In Asia, some famous local food critics have not even tried those 3 stars restaurant selected by Michelin such as the 蔡瀾 of HK (he has never been to the 3-star Lung King Heen) and Japanese 友里征耶 who has never been to some of the 3-star Japanese restaurants before the guide is released. Michelin claims the standards are the same across the board, but I am not sure if some of the 2 stars Chinese restaurants of Japan is as good as some of the non-star or 1-star chinese restaurant of HK.

                                                          1. re: skylineR33
                                                            t
                                                            tjr May 19, 2009 09:42 PM

                                                            This probably has to do with the inspectors. I wouldn't imagine Chinese cuisine to be accurately rated by Japanese palates, since the food is completely different (anyone eating most Chinese food in Japan would agree)!

                                                            For French cuisine especially, the ratings seem to be pretty consistent. Italian and Spanish as well. I think Chinese is the one really big flaw, but that is probably because Michelin isn't using any inspectors that are fairly knowledgeable about Chinese cuisine! Perhaps they should hire you and Charles_Yu, skylineR33!

                                                            1. re: tjr
                                                              Charles Yu May 20, 2009 06:27 AM

                                                              Very funny! tjr!
                                                              Don't think my digestive system can handle a job like that! Two 'Michelin calibre' meals every day, 6-7 days a week, till the guide is compiled! Too much fat and cholesterol!

                                                              1. re: Charles Yu
                                                                aser May 20, 2009 11:03 AM

                                                                I read they travel and eat about 200ish meals out of a year? 200 is a lot of weight to work off.

                                                                1. re: aser
                                                                  limster May 20, 2009 01:14 PM

                                                                  200 meals out of the year is less than meal a day, I need 3 meals a day for basic nutrition.

                                                                  1. re: limster
                                                                    aser May 20, 2009 03:18 PM

                                                                    We're not talking about grabbing a soup and sandwich or eggs for breakfast here.

                                                                    1. re: aser
                                                                      limster May 21, 2009 12:57 AM

                                                                      Yep, we're definitely talking about more than a soup and sandwich.

                                                                  2. re: aser
                                                                    Charles Yu May 20, 2009 03:35 PM

                                                                    Based on exchanges I have with Michelin's North America Sales manager, the inspectors during their 'compilation of data' period very often eat two, 'at least 3 course meals' a day for 5-6 days a week, whilst on the job! Yes, tons of calories, especially for those reviewing French and Italian establishments!

                                                                    1. re: Charles Yu
                                                                      t
                                                                      tjr May 20, 2009 10:27 PM

                                                                      Expanding horizontally (with all the health complications involved) and dying at an incredibly early age could be a reasonable trade off if the benefits involve eating some of the greatest meals available on a regular basis!

                                                                      Personally, I think that's far too much food though. I always over plan on the food for trips, especially since there's no way I could go through even a 3-star meal, say, in Paris, more than a couple of times a week without being lethargic! Most of the time I can't even finish the entire meal...

                                                                2. re: tjr
                                                                  skylineR33 May 20, 2009 06:29 AM

                                                                  Yes, agree on your comment. I am probably not quality for the michelin standard. Regarding michelin inspector, do you know if there is an age limit ? I heard that the inspector the age average is 40 and there is an upper limit. I do fit in their age requirement though, haha, but I think that's about it.

                                                                  1. re: skylineR33
                                                                    s
                                                                    Snarf May 20, 2009 12:13 PM

                                                                    Where do you think the shape of the Michelin Man came from?

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