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Michelin Stars Are Out

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What do you think?

Three stars

The following restaurants earned three stars for having exceptional cuisine and being worth the visit:

* Alinea
* L20

Two stars:

* Avenues at the Peninsula Hotel
* Charlie Trotter’s
* Ria at the Elysian Hotel

One star:

* Blackbird
* Boka
* Bonsoiree
* Crofton on Wells
* Everest
* Graham Elliot
* Longman & Eagle
* NAHA
* NoMI
* Schwa
* Seasons
* Sepia
* Sixteen
* Spiaggia
* Takashi
* Topolobampo
* Tru
* Vie

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  1. Granted the Michelin company has not confirmed or denied these ratings yet... I'd say it's pretty surprising to say the least. Given the amount of debate in regards to L20, I'm really surprised they were able to garner 3 stars. I think the other big surprise is how many restaurants many believed to be shoe ins for at least 2 stars (Tru, Everest, Spiaggia), were all rated as 1 star. Other than that, the 1 stars seem to be as expected, though I was surprised Graham Elliot received one and Moto did not receive one.

    Definitely interesting to say the least.

    -----
    Moto Restaurant
    945 W Fulton, Chicago, IL 60607

    Spiaggia
    980 North Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60611

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

    1. Perhaps I was right about L2o, North Pond, and Spiaggia all along. ;-) Or perhaps I just share a similar palate as the folks at Michelin. Boy do I hope Laurent Gras isn't gone for good.

      The only glarring miss of the places I've been in Chicago is Coco Pazzo - it is a solid 1 star restaurant if "food" is all that Michelin is basing their ratings on.

      Congrats to all and lets hope enough people buy the guide that Michelin keeps making it (unlike LA and LV)

      http://uhockey.blogspot.com

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

      Coco Pazzo Cafe
      636 N St Clair, Chicago, IL 60611

      Spiaggia
      980 North Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60611

      1 Reply
      1. re: uhockey

        Maybe they meant Cafe Spiaggia! I had dinner there, and I certainly thought it was just as good as lunch at Topolobampo, if not more so.

        I ordered the "rock hen" at Topo, and it got scribbled on the notepad too fast - the kitchen somehow read it as "pork" instead of "rock".

        It was a little surprising to see a pork belly dish end up on the table!

      2. Longman and Eagle and Tru in the same tier? Other glaring omissions would be- One Sixty Blue, Avec( as others have said),Les Nomades, Carlos', and MK.. This is a good rough draft.

        -----
        Avec Restaurant
        615 W Randolph St Ste A, Chicago, IL 60661

        one sixtyblue
        160 North Loomis, Chicago, IL 60607

        5 Replies
        1. re: La Canasta

          Les Nomades gets rather poor food ratings on Gayot and Zagat, as well. I haven't been - but that is reportedly what Michelin bases ratings on.

          I've also not been to Avec, but their omission seems puzzling - and I still think Girl and the Goat should have nabbed a star - as should have Great Lake (though perhaps their menu is too limited.)

          Hot Dougs missing on the bib gourmand list is just confusing as heck.

          http://uhockey.blogspot.com

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

          Avec Restaurant
          615 W Randolph St Ste A, Chicago, IL 60661

          Les Nomades
          222 E Ontario, Chicago, IL 60611

          Great Lake
          1477 W Balmoral Ave, Chicago, IL 60640

          1. re: uhockey

            Les Nomades scored #1 for food in Zagat this year. The 14 in gayot is indeed low considering that, however. And Michelin feeding off of other guides?!?

            You and I both know Michelin would never grant any pizza parlor stars. Not in this country at least.

            I'm not surprised about Doug's, as I think the BG list tends to emphasize places with table side service. I said in the other thread, the bib gourmand lists should bear little to no significance given their arbitrary nature. I just can't take them seriously when they would sooner award a kitschy, overpriced Asian fusion place than recognize a few of the hundreds far more deserving mom and pops.

            -----
            Les Nomades
            222 E Ontario, Chicago, IL 60611

            1. re: ramenbound

              Les Nomades offers some of the most incredible food I have ever eaten and is definitely worth two stars in my book.

              I would have also loved to see Avec grab a star, but despite it being one of my favorite establishments, I will admit that they have slipped a bit in the past couple years. However, I have dined there since their reopening and the new menu is phenomenal. If that is any indication, they will be starred next year.

              -----
              Avec Restaurant
              615 W Randolph St Ste A, Chicago, IL 60661

              Les Nomades
              222 E Ontario, Chicago, IL 60611

          2. re: La Canasta

            From what I have heard, the inspectors did not go beyond 20 miles from Chicago so that meant that Carlos' in Highwood was not visited.

            1. re: La Canasta

              Avec really should be on the Bib Gourmet list. The food there is just amazing. I actually prefer Avec over Publican.

              -----
              Avec Restaurant
              615 W Randolph St Ste A, Chicago, IL 60661

            2. I hope that all of the people who had such ridiculous expectations for the 2- and 3-stars (I saw someone with Topo at 3?!?) aren't disappointed by this list. I'd consider this is a very fair inaugural awarding of stars. I also have to say that I completely agree with the awarding of a single star on places where people are likely to split hairs. Blackbird, Topo and Tru are certainly appropriate at one star. I can't speak for Spiaggia, but I am not surprised at the single star, given that Del Posto in NY has remained 'demoted' to one.

              Moto is the one omission I notice. I'm not particularly surprised given its nature. At the same time, there aren't many places offering a ~$200 menu in NY/SF/CHI/LA/LV that did not receive a star.

              Achatz got what he deserved. Alinea blows away all of the 3-stars in New York (referring to the four excluding MASA of course) and if it got two I would have a tough time taking Michelin seriously ever again. Then again, the second I heard Michelin was coming to Chicago, I had a hunch they would be coming with the intention of dishing out some triples.

              In response to a point made in another thread, North Pond brunch did NOT come from a restaurant worthy of one star. I have been to many non-dinner meals at Michelin starred establishments, and while many of the ingredients were wonderful for this meal, the execution was not quite there; moreover, the staff was caustic - sloppy, inaccessible, and unable to carry a dialogue throughout the meal on any level. One might argue that these are all elements separable from 'what's on the plate'. I say that service is relevant - an extension of the kitchen's sharpness - I think of it as the chef's right arm. If a server cannot explain the elements of any of the plates, or appropriately judge when to remove a dish, then an operation is not sharp enough to be deserving of *. Even at a certain unpretentious place where the service was far from refined, our (I believe "chill" is the appropriate word) server was eager to check on us and was knowledgeable of the food.

              This place I speak of is Schwa, of course! I couldn't be happier to see that Carlson has received recognition. Sure, if I had things my way, they would be on the same level as Ko, but I am simply relieved that Michelin did not short change one of the city's brightest restaurants. (I would be curious as to how many meals the inspectors were able to get there).

              I'm happy to see that despite being so far from city center, Vie was able to get recognition. I'm also happy for Curtis Duffy :). I'm happy for Chicago.

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

              Moto Restaurant
              945 W Fulton, Chicago, IL 60607

              North Pond
              2610 North Cannon Drive, Chicago, IL 60614

              Spiaggia
              980 North Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60611

              11 Replies
              1. re: ramenbound

                It's been years since I had brunch at North Pond but our experience was nothing but very positive. Schwa getting * is just so excellent that it almost makes me forget some of the other omissions. :) Funny how many of these restaurants were not around 10 years ago and how far we have come in such a short period of time. Also, Logan Square representin!!

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

                1. re: La Canasta

                  Completely agreed. And nothing personal about the North Pond bit of course - I merely thought it was relevant to bring up :).

                  Interesting how you seemed to have popped up on Chowhound just as Michelin hits Chicago. The arrival of the guide has had me wondering how much the 'serious foodie' base will expand (along with visits from serious foodies around the world), as well as the dining landscape in general.

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

                  1. re: ramenbound

                    It will drive in fans of food from all over - and inspire restaurants to be better. It has been a good thing for NYC and SF.

                    People need to buy the guide so it continues - unlike LV and LA.

                    http://uhockey.blogspot.com

                    1. re: uhockey

                      I pre-ordered one on Amazon (expect to get it tomorrow). And I will probablly get one each year to support the Chicago guide. But this guide is aimed more toward food tourists. People from other parts of the country, or even Asia and Europe, really need to buy the guide in order for it to survive. I hope the Chicago guide will be published in French and Japanese - seems that tourists from these two countries are especially likely to go to Michelin restaurants while on vacation.

                    2. re: ramenbound

                      So happy for and congratulations go out to all the Chicago winners. As far as Chicago bring a fodder destination for travelers, it will most certainly increase- especially internationally. That said, I cant tell you how many times I've heard someone in sf or Boston talk about alinea And just this week in london had a conversation with a French foodie who not only loved alinea, but also had marvelous things to say about numerous other restos, including green zebra and moto. Chicago Is already very much on the map of many serious foodies and michelin will only increase that :). Yay Chicago!

                      "I fell in love again
                      all things go, all things go
                      drove to Chicago"

                      1. re: ramenbound

                        I did sign up here to join the Michelin discussion but that's because my wine geek/foodie friends were making fun of my excitment over all this nonsense. My love for the food scence in this fair city goes back to the early to mid 70's thus my handle. Cheers.

                        1. re: La Canasta

                          I think this is a very good list and the 1*s reflect the diversity of options in this city nicely. Sepia is the only inclusion I am surprised by. Moto and North Pond are the main omissions I'd have like to see on the list, although the fun / science aspects of Moto and the setting at North Pond are a large part of why I like them and those are probably not Michelin criteria. I am delighted, but not surprised that Avenues got 2**s. I hope many of those on this list who routinely direct diners to alternate restaurants will actually go there now and see for themselves how good the food is. Ria is a bit of an unknown, will have to make a trip there clearly.

                          1. re: Chihab

                            Michelin is about food first - neither North Pond or Moto fill that criteria, IMO - and obviously in Michelin's opinion as well.

                            http://uhockey.blogspot.com

                            -----
                            Moto Restaurant
                            945 W Fulton, Chicago, IL 60607

                            North Pond
                            2610 North Cannon Drive, Chicago, IL 60614

                            1. re: Chihab

                              I am not surprised by the inclusion of Sepia at all. The level of cooking at Sepia is quite high (especially dinner). Seasonal ingredients + great execution = amazing food. I hope that Province, a restaurant of similar caliber IMO, will be included in the years to come.

                              I think the Chicago guide is quite food-centric. Places like Peter Lugers, if transplanted here, would not have made the Chicago list.

                      2. re: ramenbound

                        North Pond is very overrated.

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

                        1. re: pezzonovante

                          It may be overrated (I don't happen to think so), but it's arguably as good or better than Sepia, Boka, NoMi, Takashi and more than a few restaurants on the Bib Gourmand list.

                      3. I enjoy all of the retaurants on the list that I have tried. I understand that it is difficult to include Avec if the fire forced them to close prior to final judgement. Perhaps they'll be awarded with a star or 2 next season. My biggest surprise though is that Mercat a la Planxa is missing from this list and that L & E is included. Chef Garces is doing some great things in that kitchen and I believe the caliber or food and service is certainly deserving of a star.
                        As always, these awards / opinions are as subjective as yours or mine. We say they are the best simply because the stars are the most coveted by professional chefs. In truth this is another marketing campaign by a savvy company used to sell their product. I will continue to dine where I believe I can enjoy the best food and service for my tastes. No use arguing about someone else's rating.

                        -----
                        Avec Restaurant
                        615 W Randolph St Ste A, Chicago, IL 60661

                        4 Replies
                        1. re: Tim N

                          I wasn't overwhelmed by Mercat, but I did probably prefer it to Sepia. I think one good thing about this list is it shows Chicago is a player on the international dining scene with many great, diverse restaurants and generally the right ones near the top of the list.
                          Interestingly Ria (based on Open Table this morning) has to be the easiest 2** restaurant in the world to get a prime-time table at! I assume that will change, but I am looking forward to trying it in the next few days anyway.

                          1. re: Chihab

                            I don't know about that - most of the Vegas and LA 2-Stars don't even need a 24 hour notice.

                            http://uhockey.blogspot.com

                            1. re: uhockey

                              Having eaten at most of these restaurants I think it's a fairly well done list. From my experience, TRU would be with the 2* restaurants, and i would have both Avec and The Publican at 1*. I might be a bit of a loner in believing North Pond should be a 1* - we had the tasting menu there last month and the quality was very high.

                              Combine this with the Bib Gourmand and i think they paint a great picture of where to eat in the city.

                              -----
                              Avec Restaurant
                              615 W Randolph St Ste A, Chicago, IL 60661

                              North Pond
                              2610 North Cannon Drive, Chicago, IL 60614

                            2. re: Chihab

                              I agree with this assessment of Mercat and Sepia. I think that neither is worthy of a star. Ria is intriguing and now on my list of places to try. FWIW, I have dined at Balsan (the other restaurant in the Elysian) for a corporate event and the service was absolutely terrible.

                          2. It hasn't been commented on yet, but I would like to add that I had a very good experience at Takashi a few weeks ago and feel that it is very deserving of a star. Every dish we had was amazing. The decor isn't that great and the space feels a bit crowded, but the food more than makes up for it.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: pezzonovante

                              I also thought Takashi was excellent and it also is often overlooked on this board. I am glad to see Sixteen on the list - have only been there a couple of times, the first time it was excellent, the second the service was terrible (seemed like there just weren't enough servers which we put down to cost savings) - will definitely aim to go back as it had potential. On reflection, I think the Michelin guide gives us an interesting new perspective - as many people on this board have noted there are so many good restaurants in this city that when you have a less than stellar experience you often decide not to go back - perhaps this will prompt people to go back and try some places again.

                            2. Hooray for Ria. I just went there and really loved it and am surprised by the lack of attention. I hope this gives it a boost in visitors. One of my best meals, and that tasting menu is a steal!

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: Chargenda

                                I still haven't been to Ria (the only 2, 3 star I've yet to visit). But I've been to Balsan, which was surprisingly good. I thought it would have made the Bib Gourmet list.

                              2. What will Michelin do to the 3* they awarded to L2O, now that Laurent Gras has left?! Its like Achatz leaving Alinea or Keller leaving French Laundry?!

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

                                L2O
                                2300 Lincoln Park West, Chicago, IL 60614

                                8 Replies
                                1. re: Charles Yu

                                  Keller isn't at the French Laundry...Timothy Hollingsworth has been the head chef for some time

                                  1. re: dailybread8383

                                    A friend of mine just did a staging at both TFL and Per Se this year. Apparently, even though Keller is not personally in California, in his kitchen at Per Se, he has 6 HDTV monitors with direct audio and video links to TFL's kitchen so that he could issue instructions and check on status!!

                                    1. re: Charles Yu

                                      He has something like 1 television, actually - plus audio. Go. They'll show it to you.

                                      http://uhockey.blogspot.com

                                      1. re: uhockey

                                        Are you referring to TFL or Per Se? In a feature article in the Wine Spectator a while back, they show a photo showing at least 4 screens in Per Se kitchen/ Keller's office!

                                        1. re: Charles Yu

                                          That was during the early era of Per Se, when Keller spent all of his time there making sure the restaurant was getting off on a good foot. He spends little time in New York now and there is simply the single monitor in the office and single monitor in the kitchen.

                                          I've been to both - saw the office and kitchen at Per Se and the Kitchen (wow, tiny) at TFL. Both kitchens are perfection, however - the flow, volume, determination, and skill is really something else.

                                          http://uhockey.blogspot.com

                                    2. re: dailybread8383

                                      Maybe not there as running the day to day operation any longer. But if he is not traveling your still likely to see him on the property as he lives directly behind the restaurant.

                                    3. re: Charles Yu

                                      They'll keep it in place - just as they have when other chefs moved on. Guy Savoy in Vegas keeps their 2* up even though the guide hasn't been released in 2 years and the chef has changed. TFL retained it's 3 stars through multiple chef changes, most recently from Lee to Hollingsworth.......so did Per Se when Benno left.

                                      If a chef is well trained, as Gras' successor (who has been there since the restaurant was built) is I imagine the only "CHANGE" will be a few stylistic approaches - largely a deviation away from 'mg' towards more classic approaches like what Rippert is doing at Le Bernardin. L2o's sourcing will remain fantastic as Melman controls that end.

                                      http://uhockey.blogspot.com

                                      1. re: uhockey

                                        Ria was excellent - tasting menu good value at $105, although billed as six course we also got two amuse and a palate cleanser as well as petits fours with our coffee. Definitely a seafood focus, but plenty of meat options. I can still taste the sable mousse, amazing. Curiously a number of the courses features a protein wrapped in a thin layer of vegetable (sole in leek, venison in chard etc.). The dining room is stunning / chic and the service superb - a keeper for sure.