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Michelin Guide to San Francisco, 2010

The list:

The French Laundry

The Restaurant at Meadowood

Auberge du Soleil
Chez Panisse
Chez TJ
The Dining Room at the Ritz Carlton
El Paseo (closed)
Farmhouse Inn & Restaurant
Fifth Floor
Fleur de Lys
Gary Danko
La Folie
La Toque
Madrona Manor
Michael Mina
Murray Circle
One Market
Plumed Horse
Trevese (closed)
The Village Pub

Changes: Michael Mina lost a star, and Aqua lost its two and Bistro Jeanty and Martini House each lost their only star; Aziza, Commis, Etoile, La Toque, Luce, Quince, Sante, Solbar, Terra and Ubuntu now each have a star.

Bauer's blog: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/blogs/m...
SF Eater: http://sf.eater.com/archives/2009/10/...

Thoughts on the list?

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  1. Hurrah for Ubuntu if this gets more people there and keep it alive.

    Again ... One Market ... seriously. What is that about?

    1 Reply
    1. re: rworange

      That's exactly what my mom just said about One Market.

    2. Sorta surprising to see Fifth Floor on the list as well given the 3-4 chef changes and the recent redux. Also the Plumed Horse...yeah it's French but is that good? I guess both have enough French influences (service or food) to get a star.

      2 Replies
      1. re: ML8000

        Well, Michelin isn't just about the food. Service, environment, and wine list factor in too. The plumed horse has a deep list and ages wine itself, buys by the case rather than 1-2 trophy bottles, etc. They also have a new chef, but we haven't seen any reviews on the board.

        1. About time for Ubuntu, they definitely deserve it. Not sure how I feel about Martini House losing their star, kind of expected it, but still a bit surprised. Also, Terra already had a star, but the OP indicates that it's new.

          I wonder if SF will ever get a second three star restaurant.

          3 Replies
          1. re: Piperdown

            I think the only way a restaurant can get 3 stars is if it is a French place and adheres to the classic French service model, and of course serves great food.

            1. re: ML8000

              I honestly don't think any high end place in SF proper is consistent enough to merit 3 stars. Between my partner and I, we've had experiences at a dozen of the one stars that alone would preclude them from more stars. We had a 2-3 star experience at Fleur de Lys, but that doesn't seem to be the average experience of people who report back. I would have thought Quince would be a solid 2-star, but whatever.

              1. re: SteveG

                I think whatever is the operative word. I like Manresa much more the TFL, find the food much more inspiring and unique yet it only gets 2-stars which I take is the service model. As a Californian I actually find the full French service model a bit stuffy and it can get overbearing. As you said...whatever.

          2. Commis? I'm amazed the Michelin people deigned to go to Oakland, especially for a brand new restaurant. I guess they couldn't resist following the chef's reputation across the bay. I hope it helps them fill their tables!

            5 Replies
            1. re: Ruth Lafler

              I France you will find stared restaurants all over so it does not suprise me that they would come to Oakland to review a restaurant. Several Oakland restaurants got the Bib Gourmand rating.

              1. re: Ruth Lafler

                The food at Commis is of such high quality that it would deserve a star even if it were in Walnut Creek! :-)

                1. re: Paul H

                  How would it rate, god forbid, in Fresno?

                2. re: Ruth Lafler

                  The Commis star surprised and delighted me, delighted because I loved my visit to the restaurant, and shocked that Michelin made it to Oakland. Well, and it's only been open, what, three months, so I'm kind of amazed that Michelin managed to visit in time for the book. I don't make decisions about where to go based on Michelin, but it's clear that some people do, or will at least be more likely to go to starred places, so I'm happy that Commis got one.

                  1. re: JasmineG

                    Yeah the only thing that surprised me bout the Commis star, is that the restaurant is just so new, and I really didn't think they would have enough time to review, write-up and still make the publishing deadline. I've never eaten there, but a few friends that have, have raved about it.

                3. Here are the changes from the 2009 list, including changes in their "bib gourmand" list:

                  From the list of stars, the changes are:

                  * Bistro Jeanty
                  * Martini House
                  ** Aqua
                  ** Michael Mina

                  * Ame
                  * Aziza
                  * Commis
                  * El Paseo (closed)
                  * Etoile
                  * La Toque
                  * Luce
                  * Quince
                  * Sante
                  * Solbar
                  * Ubuntu

                  Not gone from the list, but gone from the earth:
                  * Trevese

                  The "Bib gourmand" list of restaurants that are "an inspector's favorite for good value." And the changes there are:

                  Espetus Churrascaria
                  South Park Cafe
                  Willi's Seafood & Raw Bar

                  Border (The)
                  Brown Sugar Kitchen
                  Crouching Tiger
                  Flour + Water
                  Henry’s Hunan
                  Kitchen (The)
                  Monti’s Rotisserie
                  Tavern at Lark Creek
                  The girl & the fig

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: BernalKC

                    Well, though I don't use Michelin for ecs, I'm glad The girl and the fig is on there. There's been lots of people putting it down both on Chowhound and Yelp. IMO, it hasn't changed and is a nice option in Sonoma.

                    Colibri is both dropped and added?

                    These people seem to be Bradley Ogden groupies ... Thavern at Lark Creek?

                    Henry's Hunan ... really? I'm telling you if House of Nanking shows up I'm going to have to burn that guide in publc.

                    It is a little weird this year all the relatively new restaurants on that list.

                    1. re: BernalKC

                      It's particularly interesting that Michelin Guide is responsive to customer input. I sent them a couple of e-mails urging them to review Restaurant Chevalier in Lafayette. They originally replied that Lafayette is outside the area they cover (in prior years they included only the Oakland/Berkeley portion of the East Bay), but It turns out they did review it, since Chevalier is now on the Bib Gourmand list, and is the only restaurant east of the Caldecott Tunnel to be mentioned in the Guide.

                      1. re: BernalKC

                        KCBS Food and Wine Editor Narsai David talks to Jean-Luc Naret, Director of the Michelin Guide. Interesting stuff. Narsai is always good. Here's the podcast link:


                      2. Ubuntu and Aziza are two of the best dinners I've had in their year. I think their additions are especially significant not just because the restaurants deserve to be there, but it also defrays part of the criticism that the Michelin guide is biased toward French restaurants and "doesn't get" California.

                        15 Replies
                        1. re: vulber

                          The list is still biased. The three starred Italian restaurants are the Frenchiest in the area, and French restaurants don't have to have as high a level of service to make the cut.

                          Ubuntu has a strong French influence, e.g. gargouillou, vadouvan, bordelaise sauce, the hyper-complex cauliflower dish, presenting the same ingredient two or three ways.

                          1. re: vulber

                            David Chang doesn't get California, either. "I will call bullsh-- on San Francisco ... There's only a handful of restaurants that are manipulating food ... f---ing every restaurant in San Francisco is serving figs on a plate with nothing on it."

                            Both Chang and the Michelin reviewers require cooking before a place qualifies as a first-rate restaurant. Perhaps folks will recall the dust-up about Zuni last year when they served a whole nectarine on a bare plate save for a knife for dessert.

                            1. re: Paul H

                              It wasn't about the bare nectarine ... it was about the incorrectly reported price for the bare nectarine.

                              1. re: rworange

                                Oh, it was about the bare nectarine too! One of my favorite Chowhound threads ever "just rolling around on the plate."

                                1. re: JasmineG

                                  No. I have no problem with a perfectly ripe top-quality nectarine on a plate as is for up to $4 ... which IIRC, was the actual price. It was the fact that the nectarine was originally reported as costing $8 that was the problem. At that price point it needs a little something more ... even a sprig of parsley for irony.

                                  It was the high $8 price for that naked nectarine that started the outrage.

                                  1. re: rworange

                                    You may have no problem with that, but a lot of people in that thread did. As, I'm pretty sure, the Michelin reviewers would; I don't think that fruit on a plate, unadorned, would be up to Michelin standards.

                                    1. re: JasmineG

                                      Given their French prejudice against Italian cuisine, that's surely so.

                                2. re: rworange

                                  Aah...the infamous "nectarine thread". Good times...;) adam

                                3. re: Paul H

                                  There was a minor bruhaha with David Chang. He made a comment like "every restaurant in California has figs on the menu" and other stuff. He was suppose to speak at the Asia Society about his new book but it was canceled because of his comments.

                                  The whole anti-California East Coast thing is some kind of weird, angry, uptight trip. Anthony Bourdain is of the same ilk. There's plenty of bad East Coast culinary things, like produce and local wines but no one in California bothers to say anything because it's pointless.

                                  1. re: ML8000

                                    I loved that. Totally emblematic of what East Coasters don't get. Some types of fruit, if ripe and grown correctly, have more complex and rewarding flavors when raw. If the fruit isn't of such high quality, it is improved by cooking and other kitchen intervention on the part of the chef.

                                    That said, I wouldn't be opposed to seeing a perfect fig cut in half, with the cut side caramelized and the rest of it pretty much raw on a cheese plate with good blue cheese. It'd probably be pretty tasty, and more texturally interesting.

                                    1. re: SteveG

                                      Why not just go to the farmer's market, pick out a really nice piece of fruit, sit outside on a nice tarp and eat it while watching the sunset? Why go to the trouble of eating it at a restaurant (with a knife and fork no less) and get charged so much money? It's not that hard to pick really nice fruit

                                      1. re: Blueicus

                                        It's not like anybody's going to Zuni and ordering just a piece of fruit.

                                        After two hours and change at the table, three or four courses, and lots of wine, a simple piece of fruit is often exactly what I want for dessert. People who would prefer some rich sugar bomb have no reason to complain about Zuni giving me what I want.

                                        1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                          "People who would prefer some rich sugar bomb have no reason to complain about Zuni giving me what I want." Especially so considering the fact that Zuni always has a very well made molten chocolate cake for just such people, as well as a few other more complicated, rich, and expensive desserts. I really appreciate the variety, from cheap, light ,and cold sorbets or granitas to expensive, heavy, warm concoctions.

                                    2. re: ML8000

                                      Sounds like an impression from only a very small selection of restaurants. I've yet to see figs at any of the Asian or Latin American places, and they might constitute the majority of restaurants.

                                  2. re: vulber

                                    Without French food and service model, I doubt any place can get 3-stars.

                                  3. I'm always surprised by Chez TJs place on the list because so many of their line cooks are interns, unpaid at that. It seems a strange way to operate a restaurant, although all that free labor makes business sense.