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Michelin names 46 "good-value" Chicago restaurants

A week before the Michelin Guide to Chicago comes out, Michelin has named what it calls 46 good value Chicago restaurants, including the Girl and the Goat, Frontera Grill, Belly Shack, Publican and Browntrout. What's not included in the list may give us an idea of what will receive Michelin stars.

Speculation? Talk among yourselves.

See the list here.
http://www.chicagobusiness.com/articl...

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  1. >> What's not included in the list may give us an idea of what will receive Michelin stars.

    I do not get that impression from the article, although some individuals in it speculate that this effect occurs. I guess we'll find out for sure next week.

    EDIT: My impression is wrong, since the Michelin folks state clearly in the article in the link provided by ms. mika that "You can’t have a Bib Gourmand and a star."

    5 Replies
    1. re: nsxtasy

      Here's another interview that discusses it- the restaurants named on this list will not receive any stars.

      http://www3.timeoutny.com/chicago/blo...

      I thought this was interesting input from some of the Chicago chefs on their chances as well.

      http://chicago.timeout.com/articles/r...

      1. re: ms. mika

        >> Here's another interview that discusses it- the restaurants named on this list will not receive any stars.

        You're right, they state so flat out. Thanks for the link!

        1. re: ms. mika

          quote from the article:
          "TOC: Everyone knows that you love Hot Doug’s. So why no Bib Gourmand? JN: Why no Bib Gourmand? That’s a good question. Umm, I mean, we have quite a few different….I don’t think we have one for Hot Doug’s, you’re right. The quality is really an important thing, and we had some very good—don’t get me wrong—hot dogs there. But Bib Gourmand is not a star, and it’s not two stars—it’s a different meaning. It’s really saying: This is a place where I’ll take you on my day off being an inspector, and take my family there, or take my friends, because it’s a good deal. And that’s really what it is. Good deal, good value, good money."

          This answer confuses me. Is he saying that Hog Doug's quality/value is not good enough, or is he saying that Hog Doug's may have a star rather than having Bib Gourmet designation?

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

          1. re: mountsac

            >> This answer confuses me. Is he saying that Hog Doug's quality/value is not good enough, or is he saying that Hog Doug's may have a star rather than having Bib Gourmet designation?

            Sounds to me like he is being intentionally ambiguous.

            Of course, we'll find out next week whether or not Hot Doug's has a star.

            1. re: nsxtasy

              Doug's with a star would sure be something. I wonder if there is some encased meats type place in Germany that ever got a star. I'd have to think it'd be a first.

              I gave up on trying to make too much of BG lists a while ago. On one hand, there are certain upscale restaurants (A.O.C. in LA, Incanto in SF) that are getting some sort of concession for being among the "0.50-0.75 star" rejects (I'm guessing Girl in the Goat would be the example here). Then you have the 'cheap' places that actually go along with the 'good value' claim. And then they'll bring places COMPLETELY out of the air for this "$40 or less" list... like Asia de Cuba in NY.

              Makes no sense.

      2. Am I the only one who was surprised by some of the names that made even this list? Otom and Ann Sather both jumped out at me.

        And there were some restaurants I don't even know - - undoubtedly more of a reflection on me than Michelin, but still.

        11 Replies
        1. re: chicgail

          >> Am I the only one who was surprised by some of the names that made even this list?

          No, not at all. And for all kinds of reasons, too. Some of them seem to flaunt the alleged $40 price limit, and some of them are just... pedestrian, really ordinary places. Of course, with lists like this, there are always going to be places that appeal to them and just don't appeal to me, and other places I would have liked to see on the list. If I had to choose one or two French bistros, one or two Italian places, one or two Thai places, etc, my choices would definitely NOT be the ones they chose. OTOH it's nice to see some deserving places on the list, including Hopleaf, Lula, M. Henry, Mexique, and Mixteco Grill. It also seems like they went out of their way to include places with the biggest buzz over the past year, which sometimes does and sometimes doesn't represent quality and consistency.

          >> And there were some restaurants I don't even know - - undoubtedly more of a reflection on me than Michelin, but still.

          Actually, since I have the same reaction, and I think both of us are quite aware of restaurants here, even ones we haven't been to but have heard a lot about, I think it's more of a reflection on Michelin than on either of us. It truly seems like they picked some of them out of a hat, real head-scratchers.

          1. re: chicgail

            The Thai places seem very random. I'm surprised that Spoon Thai, TAC, or Sticky Rice didn't make the list.

            -----
            Spoon Thai
            4608 N Western Ave, Chicago, IL 60625

            Sticky Rice
            4018 N Western Ave, Chicago, IL 60618

            1. re: lbs

              >> The Thai places seem very random. I'm surprised that Spoon Thai, TAC, or Sticky Rice didn't make the list.

              True - and you could make the same argument about a lot of the places (why Bistro 110, Le Petite Folie, and of all places La Creperie, rather than La Sardine/Le Bouchon or Kiki's Bistro? why Riccardo Trattoria rather than Cafe Spiaggia, Coco Pazzo Cafe, Piccolo Sogno? etc)

              1. re: nsxtasy

                Some of the places omitted may be destined to receive a star. You cannot get both under the Michelin system.

                1. re: masha

                  Yes, you have a point, except that these affordable places are not likely to get a star. I know, a place does not need to be expensive to get a star (and being expensive doesn't guarantee a star), but these are places where the atmosphere is significantly more casual than even those awarded one star. I would be shocked (although pleasantly so) if any of these received a star.

              2. re: lbs

                The speculation about this makes me wonder about process. Does any one know how many restaurants the MIchelin team visits in a city, how they choose the restaurants that they do visit and how many times they dine somewhere before making a determination?

                1. re: chicgail

                  The article in Time Out, link above, says that any rated restaurant is visited at least twice by different reviewers. However, it doesn't say anything about how many restaurants they visit or how they choose them. With almost 20,000 restaurants in the greater Chicago area, I'm sure they don't visit every single one - not even close - but gee whiz, how they narrow them down seems inscrutable, given some of the ones designated with the Bib Gourmand award.

                  1. re: nsxtasy

                    I've always wondered how many restaurants there are in Chicagoland. I've seen stats for the City that it's about 6000. Where did you read the number for the greater Chicago area?

                  2. re: chicgail

                    "Does any one know how many restaurants the MIchelin team visits in a city ... and how many times they dine somewhere before making a determination?"

                    There's an article in this week's Newsweek which says the Michelin guide will cover 300 restaurants in Chicago.

                    Also in the article Grant Achatz is quoted as saying he "'firmly believes' there are four three-star restaurants (in Chicago) but refuses to name names." The article says Charlie Trotter's "will almost certainly" be included.

                    Four sounds a bit too optimistic to me, but I guess we'll know in a week.

                    As for the number of visits, I read the book "The Perfectionist: Life and Death in Haute Cuisine" about Bernard Loiseau, a French chef who killed himself in part because he thought his restaurant was losing a Michelin star, and the book said that while details about things like # of visits are kept secret that former Michelin reviewers said they preferred at least four visits before dishing out two or three stars to make sure the restaurant was consistent.

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

                    1. re: willyum

                      I sincerely doubt that Mr. Achatz is correct - while I think the Chicago dining scene is the most dynamic in the country I just don't see them giving 3 stars to four places on the first guide.....that is more than LA/LV/SF/Napa combined and rivaling NYC in a single issue of the guide.

                      Having been to most of the US 3-stars (excluding MASA and The Restaurant at Meadowood) I personally feel that Alinea, L2o, and Trotter's deserve three while Everest and TRU could easily warrant two. The food at Schwa could certainly qualify for 2-3, but the obscure reservations, interior, and loud music may put people off............then again, Ko got two with equally bizarre fashionings and (IMO) worse food at a higher pricetag.

                      http://uhockey.blogspot.com

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

                      1. re: uhockey

                        Perhaps Grant Achatz, because his restaurant is most likely to score 3 stars, is being generous towards the other top chefs in town. I was just at Trotters and, while it was excellent, IMO, just didn't have the spark that Alinea had.

                        I, like many of you, am looking forward to next week's list. I'm sure we'll all have a lot to say about it.

              3. Very interesting list. From Lula, to M. Henry, to Han 202 - seems that Michelin is going for representing the diversity in the city. Although I wonder if Michelin ventured outside of the city limit.

                6 Replies
                1. re: mountsac

                  >> From Lula, to M. Henry, to Han 202 - seems that Michelin is going for representing the diversity in the city.

                  That much is obvious, from the fact that they designated 1-3 Thai places, 1-3 French bistros, 1-3 Italian places, etc.

                  >> Although I wonder if Michelin ventured outside of the city limit.

                  My guess is no, based on the fact that they did not designate a single place in the suburbs, despite plenty of worthy places like Campagnola, Inovasi, Walker Brothers, Bistro Bordeaux, etc.

                  1. re: nsxtasy

                    I agree about going outside of the city limits. The NY guide covered only places in NYC. The SF guide seemed more unusual in being more a regional guide.

                    1. re: rjka

                      Does that mean the star-list will also be within the city limit? Because if that's the case, then the inclusion of worthy contenders such as Michael, Vie, or Tallgrass would be out of the question.

                      -----
                      Tallgrass Restaurant
                      1006 S State St, Lockport, IL 60441

                      1. re: mountsac

                        The Michelin guide rankers probably couldn't afford the 2 hour traffic battle to get to Vie to only be told they'd "sold out" of two menu items (in a 90% empty restaurant) by a surly server :-)

                        http://uhockey.blogspot.com

                        1. re: mountsac

                          >> Does that mean the star-list will also be within the city limit?

                          Probably.

                          >> Because if that's the case, then the inclusion of worthy contenders such as Michael, Vie, or Tallgrass would be out of the question.

                          Yes, and that's too bad.

                          >> the 2 hour traffic battle to get to Vie

                          In the evening commuting hours on a weekday, you can get to Vie from downtown Chicago in as little as 25 minutes by Metra train. And if it's not the evening commuting hours, you can usually drive there in about the same time.

                          1. re: nsxtasy

                            Well gracious - had I gone after the "evening commuting hours" they'd have likely been sold out of 90% of the menu.

                            http://uhockey.blogspot.com

                  2. In none of the other cities have bib gourmand spots received stars.

                    That noted - good list, though if Spotted Pig and Casa Mono get a star in NYC there is no reason in the world Girl and the Goat did not - perhaps too new, but a stellar experience.

                    http://uhockey.blogspot.com

                    1. Has anyone on here tried Gilt Bar, which is on this list? My brother and I have a reservation there for 12/11.

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: Bob W

                        Haven't been there myself but a very food savvy friend counts is as one of her favorites and some coworkers thought it was great for drinks.

                        Looking forward to hearing what you think.

                        1. re: Bob W

                          It's a trendy and happening place. It feels more like a wine lounge than a restaurant. Drinks are very good. I went in thinking that it was a lounge type place, so my impression of the food was quite favorable. I'm not sure how I'd feel if I went in thinking it as a fine-dining restaurant, though. But overall it was a positive experience.

                          1. re: Bob W

                            I went to gilt for a date night a few months ago and the food was awesome...definitely worth the trip...cocktails are great as well but the food is worth the trip alone. It is trendy and loud and busy...be warned...

                            I remember having a yellowtail sashimi that was great and the bone marrow, which was awesome, very big portion. The desserts were a little lacking...I don't think they have a pastry chef...but I'm not a big dessert fiend anyway.

                            1. re: Bob W

                              Thanks everyone! We're also going to Lou Malnati's and Portillo's, so a little trendiness is ok with us. In fact, being an outer suburbanite (DC area), I could use it!