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Chez Panisse plus this year's other Michelins

What do fellow chowhounds think about Chez Panisse losing its Michelin star? I have not been to the restaurant the last few years. Is it because of a real decline or is it because so many restaurants are cooking Californian now that they are no longer at the cutting edge?

What do you all think about the other recipients? Who do you think deserves less/ more?

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Chez Panisse
1517 Shattuck Avenue, Berkeley, CA 94709

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  1. One Michelin star means "very good cuisine in its category." I don't think cutting edge is an issue at the one-star level.

    In my observation, the standards for what constitutes "very good" are lower for French than other cuisines. If a restaurant becomes less Frenchy, that probably costs it points. CP's menu for this week certainly doesn't read as French as it did a couple of years ago.

    List: http://insidescoopsf.sfgate.com/paolo...

    1 Reply
    1. re: Robert Lauriston

      Chez Panisse is a culinary landmark, it still made the bottom half of San Pelligrino's Top 100 Restaurants in the world list.

      I've only been once, but I wasn't terribly impressed. But they did serve me the best salad I've ever had to date.

    2. Although I'm a bit surprised, I don't know anyone that cares about Michelin stars, except restaurants that have them. The world has changed and most eaters care more about what other patrons say instead of some Tire Company. I am all about food. Having only eaten at Chez Panisse once, the food and wine were amazing! My ear almost caught on fire due to my proximity to the kitchen or a fireplace... I can't remember which, what I remember is the FOOD!

      Luigi

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      Chez Panisse
      1517 Shattuck Avenue, Berkeley, CA 94709

      2 Replies
      1. re: Uncle Luigi

        Once a previously lesser-known restaurant gets a star, they get more publicity, more patrons, higher price, more difficult reservations. the food may be as good as before. but the value may decline. (e.g. Aziza)

        so the ratings sometimes serves a purpose even in the reverse, unintended, manner, i.e. is the restaurant worth going as much now?

        at the end, all these ratings and other patrons' opinions, are all opinions, just from different sources, with varying degrees of formality and different criteria. and the chowhound forum is just the place for them.

        1. re: ckshen

          Chez Panisse has been world-famous and generally booked up days or weeks in advance for decades. I can't imagine that getting or losing a Michelin star would have much effect on their business.

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          Chez Panisse
          1517 Shattuck Avenue, Berkeley, CA 94709

      2. Do you think Meadowood deserved 3 stars?

        I haven't eaten at Manresa (I live on the east coast), but from what I've heard, it is a 3-star restaurant. Thoughts?

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        Manresa Restaurant
        320 Village Lane, Los Gatos, CA 95030

        10 Replies
        1. re: wreckers00

          My last meal at Meadowood was fantastic (in Jan), and I preferred it to Cyrus (in Feb). More inventive than my meal at TFL a few years ago, but TFL had better execution on some elements. I will be heading back to TFL later this fall, and we'll see how it compares now.

          1. re: jsaimd

            Love Manresa, hated Cyrus, felt over my head at TFL. I don't quite understand all the fuss about Chez Pannise other than history, I've eaten there twice in last three years and while good it doesn't belong in the "Fine Dining" catagory. Just my opinion but fresh ingredients don't taste any better without help and technique. I think that time is passing on Chez Pannise.

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            Manresa Restaurant
            320 Village Lane, Los Gatos, CA 95030

          2. re: wreckers00

            Manresa has consistency problems. A three-star restaurant does not leave a 45 minute gap between courses in a long tasting menu like I observed this year. I think a "high two" is very fair.

            I find there is no other guide that closely matches my opinions other than Michelin. I am glad that Village Pub retained its star - I think it's doing solid one star work. Baume in PA has achieved one, which will ensure it stays in business. Dio Deka likely does deserve a star. It all fits quite well.

            Except Kaygetsu. They're doing excellent work there. That's OK with me. The place is filled constantly - and more for the rest of us.

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            Manresa Restaurant
            320 Village Lane, Los Gatos, CA 95030

            Dio Deka
            210 E. Main Street, Los Gatos, CA 95030

            Village Pub
            2967 Woodside Rd., Woodside, CA 94062

            1. re: bbulkow

              in THEORY, michelin ratings are supposed to only be for the food itself - obviously, that's not completely true - but i do think there is less emphasis placed on service and atmosphere than other ratings - giving two stars to a pop-up run out of a supermarket kitchen in brooklyn this year was definitely encouraging.

              I haven't been to Manresa so I won't opine on if I think it should have 3 stars, but 3 stars means that the restaurant is worth planning a trip around, and it certainly sounds like that from several reports

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              Manresa Restaurant
              320 Village Lane, Los Gatos, CA 95030

              1. re: vulber

                I've been to Manresa a number of times and found it wildly inconsistent as BBulkow indicates. Food and service. I've had some exceptional courses next to some intensely mediocre ones. And to be served crudo courses at more than room temperature is questionable at best (and has not proved healthful in my case).

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                Manresa Restaurant
                320 Village Lane, Los Gatos, CA 95030

                1. re: CarrieWas218

                  Serving temperature has no effect on the healthfulness of raw seafood.

                  1. re: Robert Lauriston

                    Well, it does if it's kept at room temperature for any significant amount of time (especially in the heat of a kitchen). Bacteria that cause illnesses grow quickly at room temperature.

                  2. re: CarrieWas218

                    I tend to agree. I've been to Manresa only twice, and the first time was great but the second time was so-so at best. We had the tasting menu both times.

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                    Manresa Restaurant
                    320 Village Lane, Los Gatos, CA 95030

              2. re: wreckers00

                Of all the 2-stars I expected Manresa to be the one to rise to 3-stars, only because it jumped onto the bottom half San Pelligrino's top 100 restaurants in the world list.

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                Manresa Restaurant
                320 Village Lane, Los Gatos, CA 95030

                1. re: eatdrinkthis

                  it was in it last year, i tjust jumped from 93 to 86 this year.

                  while that list is fun, i do question the validity of it, given the massive scope and the fact that the people voting on it have actually visited so few of the restaurants on the list, as well as the number of voting chefs/restauranteurs voting for their own restaurant

              3. I'm really happy that Wakuriya got a star. I ate there just last week and didn't know it won... and was just discussing that it definitely deserves one. The food was exquisite and it felt so relaxing to eat there. Well deserved!

                Not shocked about Range losing it's star. Ate there 2 years ago and I didn't understand why it HAD a star... just my humble opinion. Food wasn't impressive and the service was so slow and not responsive.

                Also glad to see that Dio Deka got a star. And ofcourse Manresa is sublime. Hopefully it gets its third star soon.

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                Manresa Restaurant
                320 Village Lane, Los Gatos, CA 95030

                Dio Deka
                210 E. Main Street, Los Gatos, CA 95030

                Wakuriya
                115 De Anza Blvd, San Mateo, CA

                4 Replies
                1. re: rosiella1

                  I was actually surprised that Range lost its star-- thought it was rightfully recognized (especially considering the company of other 1-stars). I eat there all the time and I think it's a standout, food and service-wise.

                  1. re: originalfig

                    i feel that range is an excellent restaurant, but not quite michelin quality. it irks me tremendously though that frances got a michelin star (although i realize i' min the minority with my being unimpressed with frances)

                    1. re: vulber

                      Agree re Frances. Fine neighborood joint, but booked months in advance and a Michelin star? Don't get it.

                      1. re: bdl

                        Agree re Frances as well: great addition to neighborhood but not spectacular enough for a Michelin star.

                        But then one could make the same statement about a good number of other Michelin starred restaurants, not only in the bay area but in other cities as well.

                2. Is there anyone who has been to both that can compare Wakuriya to Kaygetsu?

                  I wouldn't go as far to say Range is unimpressive - it's certainly delicious and has AMAZING cocktails - just not Michelin quality.

                  I actually don't really have a problem with restaurants like Aziza raising their prices after they get a Michelin star - chefs are already underpaid as it is.

                  Saw the press release from Chez Panisse today talking about how its standards are different than Michelin standards - couldn't agree more.

                  The addition of Campton Place is interesting - ate there over a year ago granted, but I know they still have the same chef and haven't heard anything about improvement.

                  Glad to see Spruce finally get the Michelin star it deserves - woudln't have minded it being taken away from Village Pub.

                  Does anyone else thing the Michelin Guide seems to obsess over hotel restaurants? I still can't figure out the big deal behind Luce or Murray Circle

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                  Chez Panisse
                  1517 Shattuck Avenue, Berkeley, CA 94709

                  Kaygetsu Restaurant
                  325 Sharon Park Dr Ste A2, Menlo Park, CA 94025

                  Village Pub
                  2967 Woodside Rd., Woodside, CA 94062

                  Campton Place
                  340 Stockton Street, San Francisco, CA 94108

                  Wakuriya
                  115 De Anza Blvd, San Mateo, CA

                  Murray Circle
                  601 Murray Circle, Sausalito, CA 94965

                  17 Replies
                  1. re: vulber

                    Haven't been to Kaygetsu but heard it's also amazing. Wakuriya was just really fun because it was really different. Imagine a serene and relaxed place where there was a lone chef that masterfully crafted each dish (either 6 courses or 9 courses which is really 12) for the 17 patrons each night. Reminded me of a similar zen like, peacefulness that I felt when I enjoyed a dinner at Commis.

                    I enjoyed the tasting menu at Luce and Dominique Crenn's style of cuisine. My only complaint is that the service at Luce just isn't as refined as the other Michelin rated restaurants. I must confess that I enjoyed Crenn's Into the Garden much more than Kinch's. Edgier presentation and enjoyable "dirt" Oh, and her dish "sea"... where "lobsterunifoie" just rolls off my tongue, that dish was so delicious that it made my eyes roll behind my eyelids and made me moan mmmmmm! Lobsterunifoie - that's just plain cheating!

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                    Kaygetsu Restaurant
                    325 Sharon Park Dr Ste A2, Menlo Park, CA 94025

                    Wakuriya
                    115 De Anza Blvd, San Mateo, CA

                    Commis
                    3859 Piedmont Avenue, Oakland, CA 94611

                    1. re: vulber

                      Do you have the link to the press release?

                      The Michelin gentleman said inconsistencies cost Chez Panisse its star.

                      http://insidescoopsf.sfgate.com/paolo...

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                      Chez Panisse
                      1517 Shattuck Avenue, Berkeley, CA 94709

                      1. re: ckshen

                        “When Alice Waters opened Chez Panisse almost 40 years ago, she intended to create a place where people could come together with friends and family to eat a delicious, thoughtfully prepared meal in beautiful surroundings. To this day, that is the restaurant’s highest priority. Although Ms. Waters respects the traditions upon which the Michelin Guide bases its awards, she acknowledges that they aren’t the same traditions upon which Chez Panisse has built its reputation and success over the years.”

                        http://insidescoopsf.sfgate.com/paolo...

                        with a restaurant that is so market-driven like chez panisse, there are bound to be inconsistencies - even if they're getting the best product every day, the best product on one day could still be better than the best product on another day

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                        Chez Panisse
                        1517 Shattuck Avenue, Berkeley, CA 94709

                        1. re: vulber

                          all of this is BS. chez is a four star restaurant. that means that they cannot afford to be inconsistent, no matter how the produce changes daily. the produce changes daily for ALL chefs. being excellent and consistent is their job, as is dealing with ever changing products.
                          embracing the food media and basking in their adoration when press is good and then having your press director write a statement distancing the restaurant from any critics that do not is LAME.
                          chez hasnt changed in 30 years. maybe that is what michelin is referring to?

                          1. re: frontzNskrontz

                            There's been enough reports that CP has been inconsistent on CH and elsewhere. I'm sure the Michelin judges just cataloged it. The inconsistencies can be addressed, the menu and style, probably not consider it's an institution that people still go for a specific experience.

                            The lack of a Michelin star won't stop me from going. One thing I have noticed is if you stick with seafood and items that require delicate prep, CP still excels there. I've never had bad seafood at CP and I still remember a few meals 10+ later.

                            If it were up to me, I'd shore up the inconsistencies and perhaps add two nights of interesting menus like Tues and Weds while keeping the core.

                            1. re: frontzNskrontz

                              "We couldn’t find the consistency anymore at Chez Panisse, so we couldn’t put it on the same level as last year. We had to make a decision. It was one of the top restaurants at one point, but it’s not this year. We’ll revisit."—Michelin director Jean-Luc Naret

                              http://insidescoopsf.sfgate.com/paolo...

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                              Chez Panisse
                              1517 Shattuck Avenue, Berkeley, CA 94709

                              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                Frankly I'm surprised that this didn't come sooner. Chez Panisse is way overrated, and anyone who's been to the restaurant in the past five years should have noticed the deficiencies. The writing's been on the wall for a long time now.

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                                Chez Panisse
                                1517 Shattuck Avenue, Berkeley, CA 94709

                                1. re: hong_kong_foodie

                                  The stuff I've heard is bad service. Besides that, I had a great meal upstairs during the summer. I guess that's what inconsistent mean...could be good or bad. I've always had very good experiences there.

                                  1. re: hong_kong_foodie

                                    I haven't been there since last July, but the several meals I had there in the past five years were as good as ever.

                                    1. re: hong_kong_foodie

                                      Chez Panisse has always had its supporters & detractors. I wasn't really blown away when I first dined there, maybe because I didn't "understand" their concept, and I was more impressed by other Michelin-starred establishments in SF Bay Area, LA, NY, Europe, etc. The world has also become a smaller place for some of us CHs and, with Michelin putting out guides for Tokyo, Osaka and even Hong Kong, many diners are beginning to compare Chez Panisse against, for example, Lung King Heen in HK or Alain Ducasse in London (not NY). And in many instances, Chez Panisse just came up short.

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                                      Chez Panisse
                                      1517 Shattuck Avenue, Berkeley, CA 94709

                            2. re: vulber

                              I'm more mystified by Chez Pannise ever having a Michelin star than by their losing it. There really is more to fine dining than shopping.

                              1. re: Paul H

                                I am a fan of CP. But maybe I approach it in a different manner. Re: the service issues, it has been from ok to great, but I'm generally not going for a "meal of a lifetime" sort of experience, more like a meal close to home with great food sort of experience. Most of the waitstaff can read this. Food, at a minimum, has always been very good. I also like that there has been no need for the owner to build a little empire with restaurants all over the country, usually with diminishing quality and rising prices in most of them. I think the pricing is quite fair given what the food is. I have to say that my recent experience at TFL made me appreciate CP even more. I have gotten to the point where I rarely expect any "blown away" dining, and when I experience such a dish, I usually don't expect it. For $250, I expect a bite or more of "blown away." For $75 to $95, with an really accessible wine list, I expect a lovely meal. I don't see any need for change (except the frequent squab and quail visits to the menu).

                                1. re: lmnopm

                                  My problem with CP's approach is that they don't even attempt to move the needle with their cuisine. They take the freshest and best local ingredients and let the ingredients speak for themselves to a fault. It's like eating the garden instead of eating from the garden. There are so many places in the same genre around the country that adopt the same farm-to-table approach but take more risks with preparation and execution to really bring out various flavor elements in the ingredients. They allow the ingredients to sing instead of merely speak. This is where CP has fallen quite behind the bell curve in the genre it created, and why I can name a farm-to-table place in many other communities, including fairly small ones, that give a much more pleasant and casual dining experience at the same or better price point but with a more vibrant execution without losing the core focus and theme.

                                  I also feel that Bay Area restaurants in general are a bit weak in this farm-to-table evolution. It's like they are so scared of stepping on CP's toes that they don't attempt to evolve the concept as many other places in the country have.

                                  In 2010, a farm-to-table restaurant needs to not merely provide the photograph of a pastoral setting, but use some camera and lens techniques to accentuate elements, blur the background here and there, capture a particular angle of light, adjust the depth of field. That's what makes it art instead of just an accounting.

                                  1. re: mikeh

                                    "This is where CP has fallen quite behind the bell curve in the genre it created"

                                    Well said! Alice Waters led a breakthrough and watershed, but things have moved beyond CP, especially in the last 10 years. There are the obvious national examples of people on the cutting edge of Farm-to-Table, e.g. Dan Barber. But there are plenty of local chefs doing great things too. And I think David Kinch and Daniel Patterson are leading the way in the Bar Area. They may not call themselves farm-to-table, but they espouse the same respect for ingredients and sourcing... I would argue that Patterson is the person who takes it most to the next level, with his ingenious creations that incorporate foraged ingredients that remind me of my bay area childhood (miner's lettuce, oxalis stems, huckleberries) with a technique that is both uniquely "Pattersonian" (as someone had said in a thread about Plum) and modern (ashes, gels, etc).

                                      1. re: vulber

                                        I think that article was a bit more true in 2005, but even then, reflected this persistent myth of SF that was more about creating an angle than reflecting reality. There have always been extremely popular and highly regarded SF restaurant heavyweights in the scene, but for whatever reason, they don't get mentioned. Mina was doing some neat things at Aqua, there have always been La Folie and Fleur de Lys, don't forget about the exciting early days of Melissa Perello at Charles Nob Hill and then later the Fifth Floor, Gary Danko was *the* reservation to have, and don't forget about Ron Siegel's innovative experiments with the Kaiseki menu at Masa. The popularity of today's current trend of integrating Japanese cooking and thinking into set course menus can be traced back to that lineage of chefs. But it's not talked about as much, because the story doesn't have as character as imagining this fantasy of the dominance of the CP revolution.

                                        -----
                                        La Folie
                                        2316 Polk St., San Francisco, CA 94109

                                        Gary Danko
                                        800 N Point St, San Francisco, CA 94109

                                        Masa's Restaurant
                                        648 Bush Street, San Francisco, CA 94108

                                        Fifth Floor Restaurant
                                        12 Fourth St., San Francisco, CA 94103

                                        Melissa Perello
                                        517 Hayes St, San Francisco, CA 94102

                                        1. re: vst631

                                          The Chez Panisse revolution is a myth in the sense that the vast majority of restaurants hereabouts still use cheap, unsustainable ingredients. It's a reality in the sense Patterson complains about in that article: most upscale restaurants in this area focus on finding the best ingredients and preparing them in relatively straightforward ways.

                                          That's not so different from France, where for every restaurant serving haute cuisine there are a hundred or a thousand places serving traditional regional dishes or cuisine à la bonne femme. There's still enough interest in creative, innovative cooking here that places like Manresa, Ubuntu, Commis, and Plum do good business.