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Can we talk Michelin in NYC?

I was privileged to eat in three of Manhattan's 1-Michelin-Star restaurants this past week, and writing my reviews and comparing the restaurants (in addition to thinking back on meals at other 1, 2 and 3-star restaurants) has really gotten me thinking about what makes a dining experience great and star-worthy.

According to an article I found online, the Michelin system works like this:

One Star:
"A very good restaurant in its own Category"

Two Stars:
"Excellent cooking, worth a detour"

Three Stars:
"Exceptional cuisine, worth a special journey.
One always eats extremely well here, sometimes superbly"

CRITERIA FOR AWARD OF STARS:
Commonly misunderstood, criteria like: table setting, number of waiters, quality of facilities or equipment are NOT taken into account.

There are only five criteria considered in awarding a Michelin Star;

1) Quality of ingredients
2) Skill in preparing them and in combining flavours
3) Level of creativity
4) Consistency of culinary standards
5) Value for money

Having read all of that, some (but not all) of the places in NYC that carry one star make a little more sense to me. However, I am still totally mystified as to how Del Posto and EMP can have only one star, while Daniel has three. Also, how can a restaurant like SHO have a star at all, if EMP has only one? And why would a place like Public get a star, while Tocqueville is totally ignored?

Here are links to my reviews of the three 1-Stars I visited last week, plus one from a couple of months ago:

Del Posto: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/809644
EMP: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/809465
Public: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/809246
SHO Shaun Hergatt: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/803387

And a link to my review of Tocqueville: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/809282

Please share your thoughts and link your reviews! I look forward to some interesting discussion and debate.

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  1. I'm mystified that Convivio has two Michelin stars. I was thoroughly underwhelmed with my meal there. Not to sound like a Euro-snob (even tho I probably do), but that place would not get a single star if it were in Europe.

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    Convivio
    45 Tudor City Place, New York, NY 10017

    5 Replies
    1. re: linguafood

      Convivio is now closed, as is Alto, which was previously a two-star. I never dined at Convivio, but I was totally underwhelmed by Alto the one time I ate there. I can't imagine it having one star, let alone two - especially in comparison to the other one and two stars on the list.

      http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/09/din...

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      Alto
      11 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022

      1. re: biondanonima

        Alto is/was one of the reasons why I don't rely on Michelin stars. "I can't imagine it having one star, let alone two" - that's exactly how my husband and I felt. So underwhelming. Somebody please tell me Marea is much, much better? We're planning a lunch there soon.

        1. re: uwsister

          I think Marea is better, but certainly not two-star material either (in my opinion). It lacks the consistency across the menu necessary to feel comfortable that those you recommend it to will have a memorable meal.

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          Marea
          240 Central Park South, New York, NY 10019

          1. re: nmprisons

            Marea is a two-starrer... until you get to the secondi. The antipasti and pastas are top-notch, but after that point in the meal something just seems to fall off. Caveat: haven't been in some time, entrees might have gotten better.

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            Marea
            240 Central Park South, New York, NY 10019

    2. From what I gather, Michelin is about food and consistency, and not about service and decor. The one stars are pretty questionable, but I agree with the two and three stars for the most part (though both of those lists could be trimmed of one or two restaurants). I like Daniel so I guess we disagree on that point.

      In NYC. Michelin is biased towards high end French and Japanese. Farm to table and New American don't fare as well with the rankings. Otherwise, I think it's pretty reliable for upscale dinners and like the fact that Michelin revises its ratings every year.

      2 Replies
      1. re: peter j

        I didn't dislike Daniel, but I don't think they came close to EMP (or Del Posto) in the service department, nor do I think they came close to their 3-star peer Per Se (in any department). In my opinion, Per Se is really in a league of its own (although I haven't dined at Masa) and is probably the only restaurant I've ever been too that I would describe as a three-star experience. Personally, I would put Daniel, EMP, Del Posto and probably Jean Georges all in the two-star category - this is based on my limited experience, though. Others who have dined at these places more regularly over the years may have different impressions.

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        Per Se
        10 Columbus Circle, New York, NY 10019

        Eleven Madison Park
        11 Madison Ave., New York, NY 10010

        Jean Georges
        1 Central Park W, New York, NY 10023

        Del Posto
        85 10th Avenue, New York, NY 10011

        Masa
        10 Columbus Cir, New York, NY 10019

        1. re: peter j

          How exactly is consistency measured anymore? Is there a minimum to how many meals a critic must eat before an opinion is formed? Or do they just collate a bunch of different reports from different people? Are critics assigned to restaurants?
          This was one of the big questions raised regarding the San Pellegrino rankings. With an aim to reporting only on restaurants that were frequented within 18 months, I wonder how many of the voting journalists actually ate at El Bulli?

        2. There is what Michelin claims, and then there is what empirical evidence suggests may be Michelin's reality...

          For instance, very few people believe Michelin awards stars based solely on the cuisine (and I'm reluctant to believe 'value for money' somehow figures into it). Especially in European cities, very few restaurants seem to rate even one star unless they're fairly posh (bistros and brasseries, no matter how good, rarely win stars). New York seems a little different, especially when it comes to one-stars...

          You'll find plenty of discussion here and on other sites questioning Michelin's authority and taste (sometimes even their honesty). Michelin is often accused of being Francocentric, bourgeois, and behind-the-times. There's also a widespread belief that Michelin's rating standards in the US do not seem comparable to their European guides.

          That said, I'd say Eleven Madison Park deserves a Michelin star on either side of the pond -- and definitely at least two stars, maybe three, by their NY standards.

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          Eleven Madison Park
          11 Madison Ave., New York, NY 10010

          1. There's not much to discuss. The Michelin Guide is not competent. In the first NYC edition, remember, Shea Gallante was a woman. If it has improved, it's not by much. Don't use it.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Wilfrid

              I agree. Michelin is totally out of date, poorly written, and not worth a penny. It just doesn't work for NYcC And soon it won't work anywhere. .You learn absolutely nothing about the restaurant after reading a Michelin review.

            2. Tocqueville should definitely earn a star or two, as well as 15 East.

              My head scratchers
              Sushi of Gari
              Jewel Bako
              Laut
              Public
              Avoce
              Aureole
              Gilt
              Momofuku Ko

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              15 East
              15 East 15th Street, New York, NY 10003

              Tocqueville
              1 East 15th Street, New York, NY 10003

              A Voce
              41 Madison Ave, New York, NY 10010

              Aureole
              135 West 42nd Street, New York, NY 10036

              Gari
              370 Columbus Avenue, New York, NY 10024

              Jewel Bako
              239 E 5th St, New York, NY 10003

              Public
              210 Elizabeth Street, New York, NY 10012

              Momofuku Ko
              163 1st Ave, New York, NY 10003

              Gilt
              455 Madison Ave, New York, NY 10022

              Laut
              15 E 17th St, New York, NY 10003

              2 Replies
              1. re: Ricky

                Laut was the biggest head-scratcher for me too. Public is deserving of its star, in my opinion, but I admittedly haven't eaten at any of the others you've named. I also think that EMP is 2- or 3-star food.

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                Eleven Madison Park
                11 Madison Ave., New York, NY 10010

                Public
                210 Elizabeth Street, New York, NY 10012

                Laut
                15 E 17th St, New York, NY 10003

                1. re: loratliff

                  I used to like Public alot, but I have eaten there recently, and I feel like the food wasnt as good as it once was.