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Chicago Michelin Star Restaurants Prediction

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While we wait (with extreme excitement!) for Chicago's Michelin Red Guide, I think it'd be fun to have the Chicago foodies make our own predictions first.

Here's my 2 cents:

***
Alinea

**
Avenues
L2O
TRU
Charlie Trotter's
Everest
Spiaggia
Les Nomades
Schwa

*
(my one-star list is obviously way too generous. but i just want to include all the potentials)

Blackbird
Lulu Cafe
Cafe Spiaggia
MK
Province
Takashi
Moto
Niche
Tallgrass
Graham Elliot
Vie
North Pond
Spring
Green Zebra
Naha
Publican
Carlos
Michael
Yoshi's Cafe
Ria
NoMI
Sixteen
Topolobampo
Arun
Sepia
Le Colonial
Boka
Perennial
Quince

Interestingly, I noticed that Morton's Steak House in Hong Kong got a one-star for the 2010 Michelin Guide...

-----
Alinea
1723 N Halsted St, Chicago, IL 60614

Boka
1729 North Halsted, Chicago, IL 60614

Charlie Trotter's
816 W. Armitage Ave., Chicago, IL 60614

Green Zebra
1460 W Chicago, Chicago, IL 60622

Moto Restaurant
945 W Fulton, Chicago, IL 60607

North Pond
2610 North Cannon Drive, Chicago, IL 60614

Cafe Spiaggia
980 North Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60611

Topolobampo
445 N Clark St., Chicago, IL 60610

L2O
2300 Lincoln Park West, Chicago, IL 60614

Les Nomades
222 E Ontario, Chicago, IL 60611

Spiaggia
980 North Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60611

Tallgrass Restaurant
1006 S State St, Lockport, IL 60441

Naha
500 North Clark St., Chicago, IL 60610

Graham Elliot
217 W. Huron Street, Chicago, IL 60654

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  1. I think you're pretty close on the 3 & 2 stars. Maybe not Schwa.....

    JD

    1. I think the whole list is very generous - places like Moto, Graham Elliot, Publican, and Lulu I don't think will get starred.

      Schwa's reservation policy will likely make them unranked or 1 star.....though somehow Ko achieved 2.

      Alinea will get 3. Trotter's and TRU will get 2......possibly Spiaggia (unless the service is as bad as the day I went.) The rest are up in the air. IMO, L2O deserves two - but some feel otherwise.

      It will be interesting - and it will give me reason for a return visit. :-)

      http://uhockey.blogspot.com

      -----
      Alinea
      1723 N Halsted St, Chicago, IL 60614

      Moto Restaurant
      945 W Fulton, Chicago, IL 60607

      L2O
      2300 Lincoln Park West, Chicago, IL 60614

      Spiaggia
      980 North Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60611

      Graham Elliot
      217 W. Huron Street, Chicago, IL 60654

      5 Replies
      1. re: uhockey

        I've thoroughly enjoyed following your food blog, uhockey. Having lived in the DC area for about 3 years, I was fascinated by your recent posts from our nation's capital - you certainly did a heck of a job eating through the city! I happen to think that Komi may be one of the most underrated restaurants in the country.

        Also, I noticed that you haven't made it to Schwa yet. Is it on the list, or has their reservation policy turned you off to eating there?

        1. re: aburkavage

          Thank you for the kind words.

          Schwa's menu has never blown me away the same way Alinea and L2O have - it is indeed on the list......I mean, I went through the Ko hassel. :-)

          Komi was wonderful - if they ever do a DC Michelin it'll be 2-3 Stars/

          http://uhockey.blogspot.com

          -----
          Alinea
          1723 N Halsted St, Chicago, IL 60614

          L2O
          2300 Lincoln Park West, Chicago, IL 60614

          1. re: uhockey

            I've been to Schwa twice now and have been blown away both times. Granted, it's a very different experience from Alinea and less fine dining than L20, but I think the genuineness of dining at Schwa is unmatched by any other restaurant I've ever been to. I've sat at chef's tables at all kinds of restaurants from DC to Hong Kong, and have never been to a place where the chefs are more interested in the diner's enjoyment of the meal.

            Quite frankly for the money, I'd go back to Schwa about 6 times before I made another reservation at Alinea. I think the food is innovative yet downright tasty, and the atmosphere is plain old comfortable.

            In short, I think it should be considered one of the top dining destinations in Chicago. Will it be Michelin rated? Probably not. Do you think the chefs at Schwa care? Hardly.

            1. re: aburkavage

              Good point - I'll be back in either December or April - I'll go through the hassel to get a seat if at all possible. :-)

              http://uhockey.blogspot.com

              1. re: aburkavage

                Couldn't agree more about Schwa... it would get my vote for a return trip before Alinea.

                8 of the dishes made me think about food in ways no other restaurant has. The tagliatelle with huckleberries, black truffle, veal heart and honey might be the best and most unexpected plate of food I have ever eaten.

                aburkavage, if you've been to Schwa twice, maybe you could help uhockey secure a seat during his next visit, maybe even accompany him!!

                -----
                Alinea
                1723 N Halsted St, Chicago, IL 60614

        2. The Guide Michelin standards are far different than that of the average US restaurant reviewer. While food is paramount, many other things are taken into account. Comfort is and service are key factors. Small details include everything from the quality of the stemware, the volume and type of music all the way down to the soap and towels in the restroom. For these reasons alone a restaurant like Schwa (tumblers for wine and blasting death metal music) would not earn a single star and might not even be classified as recommended.

          Alinea will probably earn 3 stars

          Everest, Trotter's, Spiaggia and L20 - 2 stars

          Tru, Naha, Carlos, Les Nomades, North Pond, Sixteen, Ria and Blackbird - 1 star

          Possible 1 star - Topolabampo, Arun's and MK.

          The remainder of your list may receive "recommended" or remain unrated.

          We'll all know pretty soon....

          11 Replies
          1. re: Vinny Barbaresco

            I agree that the French like the whole package. But there are many notable outliers. For example, per Uhockey's concern regarding Schwa's difficult reservation process, Momofuku Ko, El Bulli, and (to a certain extent) Gordon Ramsay's in London all have ridiculous reservation processes - yet they are starred (two of them them three stars).

            And for services and/or comfort, the French will sometimes cave for exceptional food or local specialty food: notable examples are Jiro in Tokyo, Momofuku Ko (again), Peter Lugers. I'm not really plugging for Schwa. I just feel that we might just be surprised by what the French are willing to look pass when there is deserving cuisine. Hot Doug's anyone? lol.

            -----
            Hot Doug's
            3324 N California Ave, Chicago, IL 60618

            1. re: Vinny Barbaresco

              Given the recent service gaffs I experienced at Everest, 2 stars would have been out of the question. Hopefully our experience was an outlier. The food and location were exquisite. However:

              My husband ordered a drink before dinner and I requested the same. His came; mine didn't.

              A bread refill was offered to one person at the table, but not to all of us until we asked.

              We ordered two appetizers each and one entree and those three courses were cleared and immediately replaced as we completed them, leaving us feeling rushed.

              Finally one person finished her entree before the rest of us and her plate was whisked away while the rest of us finished.

              1. re: chicgail

                I'd say precisely the same re: Spiaggia and their horrendous treatment of myself and family.

                http://uhockey.blogspot.com

                -----
                Spiaggia
                980 North Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60611

                1. re: uhockey

                  Michelin stars are not easy to earn. Alinea is the only one i think has a shot at 3 stars.

                  The others in the top tier -- Everest, Tru, Trotter, Spiaggia, Avenues -- well, we'll have to see. It will be interesting.

                  1. re: chicgail

                    I concur. I personally think L2O should be on that top-tier list, as well.

                    I'm honestly interested to see how places like Topo, Blackbird, North Pond, NoMI, etc stack up as well.

                    Personally, I liked everything I had at Trotter's and L2O (and the service, as well) more than the food and experience I had at Ko - a Michelin 2-star spot.

                    I still think Chicago, on a whole, is second only to NYC in terms of the US dining scene.

                    http://uhockey.blogspot.com

                    -----
                    North Pond
                    2610 North Cannon Drive, Chicago, IL 60614

                    L2O
                    2300 Lincoln Park West, Chicago, IL 60614

                    1. re: chicgail

                      Agreed on Alinea. There are a lot of people out there who have had problems with Spiaggia as seen by the replies on in this thread alone. I have a problem with their wine pricing primarily and spotty service.

                      Tru will should get two, Everest has a shot. I haven't been to Avenues recently enough to judge. I was Trotter's last night and the food was excellent but the service missed several beats. Trotters will probably get two. By comparison sake, from my experience, if Trotter's or Everest gets two then certainly L2O deserves two.

                      -----
                      Alinea
                      1723 N Halsted St, Chicago, IL 60614

                      L2O
                      2300 Lincoln Park West, Chicago, IL 60614

                      Spiaggia
                      980 North Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60611

                      1. re: HoosierFoodie

                        "By comparison sake, from my experience, if Trotter's or Everest gets two then certainly L2O deserves two."

                        That I would agree with - but the legacy of Charlie Trotter's may figure in.

                        http://uhockey.blogspot.com

                        -----
                        Charlie Trotter's
                        816 W. Armitage Ave., Chicago, IL 60614

                        L2O
                        2300 Lincoln Park West, Chicago, IL 60614

                2. re: Vinny Barbaresco

                  From the Michelin web site:

                  "Stars represent only what is on the plate. They do not take into consideration interior decoration, service quality or table settings."

                  1. re: hungryinaz

                    Well, there's the whole difference between "what they say" vs "what they do"...

                    1. re: nsxtasy

                      Agreed! Schwa could have the best food in the world, and there's no way they would ever eclipse the one star rating!

                    2. re: hungryinaz

                      That is nearly impossible to believe for one simple reason: Daniel in NYC. Their cooking hasn't gotten better recently - but the room at the service has, and they subsequently went from two to three stars in the last guide. Similarly, for Manresa to be 2 stars with what David Kinch is putting out of the kitchen is a disgrace to the chef - I've no doubt it was/is the service that prevents them from nabbing les trois etoiles.

                      Regardless - service, setting, and food - I'd not be surprised to see both Trotter's and Alinea score three stars. If Alinea doesn't there is something very flawed - I've been to all but one of the US Three Stars and what Achatz is doing is on a whole different level while the service is every bit as tight as that at the Keller outposts.

                      http://uhockey.blogspot.com

                      -----
                      Alinea
                      1723 N Halsted St, Chicago, IL 60614

                  2. John Mariani of Esquire has his predictions:

                    And the Michelin stars (will) go to...
                    * * * Alinea
                    * * Charlie Trotter's
                    * * L20
                    * * Moto
                    * * Blackbird

                    And the Mariani stars (already) go to...
                    * * * Spiaggia — one of the great Italian restaurants anywhere.
                    * * Charlie Trotter's — set the standard for modern French-American cuisine in town.
                    * * L20 — a reverie of great seafood in the most refined style.
                    * * Topolobampo — Rick Bayless's signature Mexican restaurant.
                    * * Longman & Eagle — the very best of the city's new gastropubs.

                    I heartily disagree with much of this, but ... so what? Mariani is rather disparaging of the Chicago restaurant scene and seems to be aware of only a small portion of it. The man has his opinion. So be it.

                    http://www.esquire.com/blogs/food-for...

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: chicgail

                      If Moto gets 2 stars I will be VERY surprised.....that would say it trumps WD-50 and I don't think most would agree....same with Blackbird (though it was excellent, it is certainly not the service level of a place like Picholine or Manresa or Guy Savoy)

                      Does Mariani not feel Alinea is 3 stars? Seriously??

                      http://uhockey.blogspot.com

                      -----
                      Alinea
                      1723 N Halsted St, Chicago, IL 60614

                      Moto Restaurant
                      945 W Fulton, Chicago, IL 60607