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Michelin Guide to San Francisco, 2010

JasmineG Oct 19, 2009 09:47 AM

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. rworange RE: JasmineG Oct 19, 2009 12:26 PM

    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
      JasmineG RE: rworange Oct 19, 2009 12:34 PM

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

    2. m
      ML8000 RE: JasmineG Oct 19, 2009 01:06 PM

      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
        SteveG RE: ML8000 Oct 19, 2009 03:10 PM

        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. re: ML8000
          Paul H RE: ML8000 Oct 19, 2009 05:24 PM

          Plumed Horse is VERY good.

        2. p
          Piperdown RE: JasmineG Oct 19, 2009 01:27 PM

          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
            ML8000 RE: Piperdown Oct 19, 2009 02:43 PM

            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
              SteveG RE: ML8000 Oct 19, 2009 03:14 PM

              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
                ML8000 RE: SteveG Oct 19, 2009 03:44 PM

                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. Ruth Lafler RE: JasmineG Oct 19, 2009 04:41 PM

            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
              skwid RE: Ruth Lafler Oct 19, 2009 05:14 PM

              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
                Paul H RE: Ruth Lafler Oct 19, 2009 05:27 PM

                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
                  PolarBear RE: Paul H Oct 19, 2009 06:13 PM

                  How would it rate, god forbid, in Fresno?

                2. re: Ruth Lafler
                  JasmineG RE: Ruth Lafler Oct 19, 2009 05:30 PM

                  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
                    Piperdown RE: JasmineG Oct 19, 2009 06:06 PM

                    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. BernalKC RE: JasmineG Oct 19, 2009 06:18 PM

                  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
                    rworange RE: BernalKC Oct 19, 2009 06:29 PM

                    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
                      jimjoyce25 RE: BernalKC Oct 19, 2009 07:16 PM

                      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
                        ML8000 RE: BernalKC Oct 23, 2009 11:17 AM

                        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. v
                        vulber RE: JasmineG Oct 19, 2009 10:11 PM

                        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
                          Robert Lauriston RE: vulber Oct 20, 2009 08:54 AM

                          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
                            Paul H RE: vulber Oct 20, 2009 10:47 AM

                            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
                              rworange RE: Paul H Oct 20, 2009 10:59 AM

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

                              1. re: rworange
                                JasmineG RE: rworange Oct 20, 2009 11:05 AM

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

                                1. re: JasmineG
                                  rworange RE: JasmineG Oct 20, 2009 12:17 PM

                                  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
                                    JasmineG RE: rworange Oct 20, 2009 01:15 PM

                                    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
                                      Robert Lauriston RE: JasmineG Oct 20, 2009 02:10 PM

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

                                2. re: rworange
                                  adamshoe RE: rworange Oct 20, 2009 11:11 AM

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

                                3. re: Paul H
                                  ML8000 RE: Paul H Oct 20, 2009 11:16 AM

                                  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
                                    SteveG RE: ML8000 Oct 21, 2009 11:51 AM

                                    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
                                      Blueicus RE: SteveG Oct 21, 2009 10:18 PM

                                      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
                                        Robert Lauriston RE: Blueicus Oct 22, 2009 01:01 PM

                                        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
                                          SteveG RE: Robert Lauriston Oct 22, 2009 02:39 PM

                                          "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
                                      limster RE: ML8000 Oct 21, 2009 02:41 PM

                                      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
                                    ML8000 RE: vulber Oct 20, 2009 11:03 AM

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

                                  3. sarahjay RE: JasmineG Oct 28, 2009 08:12 PM

                                    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.

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