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Predictions for France/Paris Michelin 2010?

Is it too soon to get the ball rolling on this? Are any strong rumours doing the rounds yet?

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  1. I'd be interested in an informal poll to learn how many of us rely on or even care awfully about Michelin's machinations. For me, their up and downticks are late and/or irrelevant compared to the collective experiences of active Chows and other internet sources.

    13 Replies
    1. re: mangeur

      I don(t think that's fair. We never heard of l'Arnsbourg before they got the third. In general, this still a pretty reliable guide when it comes to the stars. It's not an early trend spotter but that serves ego more than good food. Of course I disagree with some of their decisions (Piège, Ducasse, ZKG, Besson, La Grande Cascade, Senderens...) buut I take them very seriously.

      1. re: souphie

        Perhaps I can explain. Thirty years ago, I was totally dependent on Michelin and other travel guides. Twenty years ago, I began to make internet associations which let us exchange dining and lodging experiences. Ten years ago, I began to seek out the blogs of well traveled, bedded and fed people who's taste I have calibrated and appreciate. Souphie is in the upper 1% of these bloggers. I should be grateful for his serious consideration of current Michelin determinations. Yes, I am. Thanks, souphie. :)

        1. re: mangeur

          Thank you, Mangeur. And your point is well taken -- we have extraordinary resources with the Internet and we don't DEPEND on Michelin the way we used to.

          1. re: mangeur

            I find Michelin valuable and reliable especially in France. I also check recommendations from a variety of other sources to get a good feel for where I am going to. I believe that if you use Michelin intelligently then it is an essential source of information and opinion.

            It isn't 100% accurate, but nor are bloggers. It tries to standardise the assessment across a number of visits which to me is often far more accurate than relying on a bloggers single visits or trying to weigh up bloggers likes dislikes and dining experience/knowledge (IMO there are a number of bloggers who seem to have little experience or taste).

            The other advantage Michelin has, is that it is broad based, Chowhound in France is OK in Paris (although even we can get very narrow) but less good in other regions. Michelin is pretty strong everywhere in France and very valuable if you are heading away from the regular tourist haunts of Provence and Burgundy.

            I agree with Soup that Michelin may seem slow to spot early trends, and I think this is as he says: they look for consistent delivery not a flash in the pan. I find them quite quick to recognise genuine new talent, although like many I feel the "stickiness" of stars is a problem i.e. tricky to win, and then tricky to lose.

            So what is the gossip? Briffard for three? Ducasse to lose all his? Marchand and Delage to get their first?

            1. re: PhilD

              I haven't heard any gossip, and for this we can quietly trust François Simon, whose life revolves around having that kind of scoop (by the way, did you notice this demonstration of what an inept clown he is when it comes to food? http://francoissimon.typepad.fr/simon... ).

              That said, I would be very surprised if Ducasse lost anything -- that would be an indication of a major change inside Michelin. I'd also be surprised (and equally favorably) if Delage got a star. You could argue that he deserves it but then why not l'Ami Jean or even l'Ami Louis as well? Delage (Jadis) is arguably a more original cook, but still -- he might be in for a Bib Gourmand, though. As would Le Cristal de Sel, maybe.

              Also maybe Marx will get the third. They like to surprise.

              And I wouldn't be surprised to see Bourdas (SaQuaNa, Honfleur) elevated.

              As for Briffard, I'm too close to the restaurant to make forecast, but there's no doubt in my mind that 1-he deserves the third (and has been deserving it for ten years, as I think the Michelin people themselves recognise) and 2- that he's the rising star in town right now. The restaurant has been full at every meal for the last two months. Yesterday I had a pretty excellent tasting menu, by the way (truffle three ways, abalone and scallops three ways, pigeonneau and a surprisingly good Vienneta dessert.

              1. re: souphie

                Re: Simon
                This is both hilarious and sad. I can't even understand how that is not a joke... there's nothing in this video that is not laughable. Only problem is, it's dangerous as I imagine he's got a very large number of visitors, some of whom may not be aware of the inanity this "recipe" is.

                Re: Le Cinq
                IWent back for the second time in a one-month span the Friday just before Christmas holidays, and it raised two thoughts. First of all, I can only concur about Briffard deserving a third star. I also had the abalone/scallops dish that was fantastic, as well as the last pithiviers of the season. The problem was, if the restaurant gets its third star, I hope it doesn't become a victim of its own success. This last dinner we had there, the room was packed. They even added a few tables. The staff seemed a bit overwhelmed. There still was joy and laughter, but the front of house was less present. Also, the vegetables with the first service of the pithiviers were borderline cold. It was not a big problem, but slightly sub-par to what we had three weeks before, on a Friday night too, but with a room that was just "almost full". Oh and Thierry Hamon was not there, but hey, I guess those people are entitled to holidays too.

                1. re: olivierb

                  Tell them -- there's nothing like clients' feedback. Plus, as a now official regular, it's in your own interest.

                  1. re: souphie

                    I didn't think about doing so, as the evening was still enjoyable, but I had to contact them for something else, so I definitely will.
                    That said, I'm not sure 4 meals in 13 months makes me an "official regular" there, even if I wish I was!

              2. re: PhilD

                I'm hoping Lallement will get his 3rd. ;) but who knows?

                1. re: ChefJune

                  I'm hoping it too. But usually Michelin needs an excuse to change a rating -- something that changed or was confirmed. It does sound like Lallement has much news going lately.

          2. re: mangeur

            "Michelin's machinations"
            I think they're very good for addresses and closing days, like Zagat, and in the country, 50% reliable. Once upon a time, their agglomerations of towns were fabulously useful, but some genius in corporate nixed them. Like all print media (and I love print, having been a print editor for about half a century), they're essentially on life support. I'm afraid on this one I'm with Mange not Soup.

            1. re: John Talbott

              I am a sucker for the Bib Gourmand though, I think THAT is its best feature.

            2. re: mangeur

              The Michelin is not a restaurant guide as such but a travel guide, and the best at that... at least in France! It is aimed at finding a nice hotel in Vezoul or Chamalieres or wherever, with a reasonable restaurant nearby. Try asking this to your Blackberry or Ipod whilst on the road.
              The arguments about who deserves how many stars are completely irrelevant except for the restaurateur himself and a few foodies (just looking on this blog at the different opinions about all 3 Stars restaurant proves that not everybody has the same taste, which is fortunate). But IMHO there is no need to buy the Michelin guide to check on Ferran Adria or Bocuse.
              Wherever I travel, I use the Michelin of that country as a base, then might check on Chow / Trip Adbvisor, etc. for confirmation & news.
              An additional thought: If the Michelin guide is so bad (and I understand from Mangeur, even biaised) , why does everybody takes it so seriously and go and buy it?

              1. re: John Talbott

                I agree souphie, i don't always agree with michelin's decisions, particularly living here in the uk, where they seem reluctant to elevate restaurants through the star rankings as swiftly as they do at 'home'. how marcus wareing / petrus (whatever you want to call it) stayed on a single star for the best part of 5 years is beyond me.

                i also agree john, it probably is on borrowed time in its print guise. however, props to them for the viamichelin internet search. it's really easy to use and gives immediate access to all the information you get from the guide itself. perhaps this will flip to a subscription service; the classic model of build-up a user-base, get them hooked and then monetise? i wouldn't blame them. i also note they charged for an iphone app' version for the first time this year. i know neither is print, but better to have it than not at all, god forbid!

                however, back to the matter at hand, i must give france its due. the overall experience i've had in grand dining rooms there, when done properly, is without peer. i didn't want to believe it for a long time, but in my opinion they do offer the best overall experience and, at the top end, think michelin gets it right more often than not, so is a good reference tool if looking for that kind of meal.

                i'm also keen to see if they're going to react to their own tokyo guide and restore paris' crown of most 3-stars in a single city... i wouldn't be surprised if they try to at least put it on level pegging.

                finally, there's always individual territory hype around the release of a guide, but let's be honest, it still isn't treated with the same reverence in the rest of the world and, as such, always makes the domestic release the most fun to follow.

              2. OK. Today's JdD had an article by Amanda Sthers that posited some predictions/hopes/fantasies that included Yam'Tcha's getting a star, along with PSG winning a game. So make of it what you wish.

                1. Here they come, starting with France Soir: l'Auberge du Vieux Puits in Fonjoncouse for the third, SaQuaNa and Bigarrade for the second, YamTcha and Roellinger's coquillage for the first.
                  Source: http://www.francesoir.fr/consommation...

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: souphie

                    La Bigarade with two- huh?? Anyway like my friend Alex C. says, "Who care's what the Michelin guide says".

                    1. re: adrian

                      No disagreement with you on that my friend and after two straight blahs in bistrots Pudlo named "of the Year" and "coup de coeur" I'm taking a sabbatical from him too.

                      1. re: John Talbott

                        That's different. Michelin is conservative and sometimes at a loss. Pudlo is plain corrupt.

                  2. I missed ChrisoScope's post of Feb 1st http://chrisoscope.com/2010/02/01/fre... noting the acquisition of a Bib by Frenchie, Le Caffè del Cioppi, l’Agassin, Carte Blanche, le Villaret, la Maison Courtine and loss of such status by: Willi’s Wine Bar, les Papilles, Spring (closure), Urbane (ditto), Afaria, le Dirigeable, & chez l’Ami Jean.

                    John Talbott

                    22 Replies
                    1. re: John Talbott

                      Interesting this is out before the main guide. One should note that the loss of a bib may not indicate a quality issue, it is often because the restaurant no longer qualifies on the price criteria: entree+plat+dessert for €29 and €33 at weekends in the provinces, and €35 in Paris

                      1. re: PhilD

                        Correct; there are a myriad of reasons, few of them bad.

                      2. re: John Talbott

                        I thought la Maison Courtine had one star?

                        Phil has a very good point, and it is an opportunity to remind that the Michelin ratings are not quantitative but different in nature. As Phil points out, the Bib indicates first and foremost a price range with good food. One star means a good local restaurant and depends on the local competition. Two stars means an excellent restaurant, as good as it gets in its style. Three stars means unique -- not necessarily better than two but without equivalent.

                        1. re: souphie

                          could it also mean some of those have dropped off the list because they've been promoted? must make for a nervy month during the interim publication of the two guides...

                          1. re: marcus james

                            Marcus, very true. The list has "obtient *" against three of the Suppressions so they obviously have got the good news!

                            Soup: Maison Courtine in the 14eme is a new Bib in the list. There are 17 new and 9 lost in Paris.

                            Question: can you have a Bib and a Star if you are cheap enough?

                            1. re: PhilD

                              Yep- Darozze goes down to one- but sadly only one, one star promotion- Yam T'cha-- others deserve surely......Yam T'cha has been disappointing me, as well

                              1. re: adrian

                                Adrian, once again, you've got it:
                                Darroze deserves a broken/minus star and Yam T'cha not much - given the fact that the chairs give even the healthiest back pain for days.
                                But let's come back to the basic question: does the Miche matter? Sure I carry one on my car, but in Paris there's no way places like the P'tit Caillou, Chez Grenouille, Adrienne Chez La Vieille, L'Agrume, Bouchon & Assiette, Le Restaurant (Left Bank) and Les Petits Plats will ever appear for years there, even as Bibs. And this (apart Girona, Bilbao, SF and maybe NY on a non-snow day) is/are where is happening.
                                Why has Daniel Rose never been invited to the OFF (Omnivore Food Festival) and David Kinch and Carlo Mirarchi (who?) of Roberta’s in Brooklyn (NY) have.
                                It and the GaultMillau are sad memories. Requiescat in pace!

                                John Talbott

                                1. re: adrian

                                  Adrian - do you have the link to the results?

                                  1. re: PhilD

                                    Adrian can speak for himself but apparently we'll know all after Naret's 8h30 Press Conf tmrw AM. Today's JDD had a long article on who's supposed to go up; but I take these things with a grain of salt - after all yesterday Figaro said Le Concert was a shoe-in for best film not Le Prophete.

                                    1. re: PhilD

                                      Here's the link - http://bit.ly/czx9Q9 - as predicted Helene Darroze got her comeupance and Bigarrade, Yam'Tcha and Passage 53 scored.

                                      1. re: John Talbott

                                        WOW! Les Crayeres went from two ** to none? Anybody been there in the past year or so who could report on a catastrophe at that lovely place? When I was there in 11/07, it surely deserved both stars.

                                        1. re: ChefJune

                                          They lost their chef (Elena, ex-AD at the Essex House, now at Chèvre d'Or).

                                          1. re: ChefJune

                                            And Alexander Lobrano just gave it an A- http://hungryforparis.squarespace.com...

                                            The "demotion" is apparently only Michelin's little thing when the chefchanges (from Didier Elena to Philippe Mille)

                                            1. re: John Talbott

                                              lose a star? sure, but lose BOTH? seems like a lot.

                                              also, iirc, Ma Cuisine in Beaune had a star. when did they lose it?

                                              1. re: ChefJune

                                                My understanding is that they usually pull them all but sometimes just reduce and of course in Belgium they award them before a place opens. Who knows how Naret's mind works?

                                                1. re: John Talbott

                                                  And Loiseau's place in Saulieu never lost any stars even though they lost Loiseau.

                                                  1. re: f2dat06

                                                    Isn't it a combination of the scale of change and the timing. If the key chef leaves a month before the guide goes to press there is no time to evaluate the change so the rating goes to zero (no stars).

                                                    But if he the change is just after it goes to press the inspectors have 12 months to re-evaluate, it could retain all the stars if it delivers the same quality, or drop a star if good but still settling in, or obviously lose them all if drops quality or changes format significantly.

                                                    Obviously the scale of the change is important, the top chef leaving a large brigade with a long serving successor in place to take up the reins will be smoother than a chef/patron leaving and a brand new chef arriving in a small brigade.

                                          2. re: John Talbott

                                            Interesting to see the new: 1 x 3*, 10 x 2* including Sa.Que.Na in Honfleur and Bigarrade in Paris, and 47x 1*stars.

                                            The losses: 1 x 3*, 2 x 2*, and 36 x 1* - including a board favourite Gerard Besson in Paris and Le Jardin des Remparts in Beaune.

                                            There are also 3 that dropped from 2* to 1* including Au Crocodile in Strasbourg which received mixed reviews on this board.

                                            Overall then an increase in total number of stared restaurants in France with an increase of 11 x 1* and 5 x 2*.

                                            1. re: PhilD

                                              Yes, I'm surprised to see Besson demoted, as well as Le Manoir de Bellerive near Sarlat which I also liked a lot. On the other hand, I can't imagine how Marco near Cahors can keep a star if it's always as bad as when I was there. I don't think La Madeleine at Sens deserves two--take one away and give it to Moulin de la Gorce near Limoges!

                                              As for L'Auberge du Vieux Puits, the year's only new three-star, I practically fell off my chair. My wife and I were very disappointed at our dinner there about 5 years ago; conception, execution, and service were all substandard. Perhaps the kitchen was overwhelmed by the number of customers, as all the tables were occupied and there were long waits between courses.

                                              I wonder if Michelin inspects restaurants in the provinces as carefully and as often as those in large cities.

                                              1. re: fanoffrance

                                                Things do change and five years is a long time in the life of many restaurants. I understood the reviewing regime was the same for all restaurants whether they are town or country, and I would expect it to be identical for those at the top of the tree. I understand they don't promote to three stars lightly and have lots of repeat visits to confirm.

                                                1. re: fanoffrance

                                                  Fanoffrance: Your comment about Besson's demotion was echoed by Francois Simon who on learning of the loss, immediately made a reservation and with two others and had a superb meal. He posted a quick note on his blog about it - http://francoissimon.typepad.fr/simon... - and published a longer piece in today's Figaro whose website always lags over the weekend.

                                                  He also notes that friends of Helene Darroze were pleased she only lost one star, bringing her down from the "dangerous zone" of the two stars.

                                                  1. re: John Talbott

                                                    See? he's not all bad (FS, that is).

                                2. What has Helene Darroze done to alienate some of the people on this board? It comes across as personal. Surely, she is not the first and won't be the last to receive stars from Michelin that some thought as undeserving.

                                  3 Replies
                                  1. re: PBSF

                                    "What has Helene Darroze done to alienate some of the people on this board?"
                                    I, for one, thought her food was not only over-rated it was at times inedible and I thought she was more interested in looking good for the cameras (vide the spread of her in nightgowns in version femina) and reporters than figuring out how to do things in the kitchen. I don't think it's personal at all (I might not want to have a drink with Gordon Ramsay or Anthony Bourdain but I respect their food greatly.) I said she got her comeupance because I think she pulled the wool over a lot of critics' eyes and to mix a metaphore, Michelin finally saw that the Emperor had no clothes.

                                    1. re: John Talbott

                                      I was happy to see Passage 53 get their first star. I knew Yam T'cha had been told weeks before by the Michelin people about their first star ("But don't tell anyone", wink wink, they said). I was a bit pissed that Yam T'cha would and Passage wouldn't- so that was a nice surprise when reading the results. I had to look twice, thought my eyes were playing tricks on me. I texted Guillaume the patron to congratulate him- and even he didn't know yet ! It was good to break the news.

                                      1. re: John Talbott

                                        I thought her semi-exile to London proved to be a good move for her, get out of the hard limelight of Paris, get some experience and maybe move back to Paris and get a better hold of her restaurant there ?