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2012 Michelin Stars

nsxtasy Nov 15, 2011 01:17 PM

THREE STARS ***
Alinea

TWO STARS **
Charlie Trotter's
Ria

ONE STAR *
Blackbird
Boka
Bonsoiree
Courtright's
Everest
Graham Elliot
Longman & Eagle
L2O
Moto
Naha
Schwa
Seasons
Sepia
Spiaggia
Takashi
Topolobampo
Tru
Vie

Changes from last year:
Added: Moto, Courtright's
Removed: Avenues (closed), Sixteen, NoMI, Crofton on Wells
Demoted: L2O (3 stars to 1 star)

Ref: www.chicagotribune.com/features/food/...

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  1. nsxtasy RE: nsxtasy Nov 15, 2011 01:32 PM

    I'm surprised (and disappointed) that the total number of star winners went down (from 23 last year to 21 this year). Especially given that the number of Bib Gourmand winners went up substantially.

    1. Gonzo70 RE: nsxtasy Nov 15, 2011 01:34 PM

      The 2012 list is definitely anticlimactic (as the linked article expresses); I can understand Michelin wanting to keep the list exclusive and for receiving a star to be something highly coveted, but it would have been nice to have more than two new restaurants receive stars. Certainly there are more restaurants in Chicago that were deserving. I was particularly surprised Next was snubbed.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Gonzo70
        chicgail RE: Gonzo70 Nov 15, 2011 01:56 PM

        I only dined at the Next Paris 1906 menu and, while it was an experience unto itself, I wasn't blown away by the food. It was very well-prepared French food in a the classical Escoffier style. But nothing I haven't eaten before. Some dishes, IMO, were awesome (the salad), others (Consumme and the Bombe Ceylon) missed badly.

        And then Bangkok 2060 devolved into just Bangkok. And I don't know much about the childhood menu yet.

        It's a fascinating - even brilliant - marketing concept, but perhaps more smoke and mirrors than true greatness.

        1. re: chicgail
          Gonzo70 RE: chicgail Nov 15, 2011 02:20 PM

          I just have delved into enjoying eating at nicer restaurants in the past few months, so I do not have a lot to compare Next to at this point (I have made to to four of the Michelin starred restaurants so far, but plan to be adding to this in the coming months); however, to date Next Childhood has been my favorite meal I have ever had. Both my wife and I found it to be the total package; great food (variety, uniqueness, taste and presentation) as well as outstanding service (very polished, yet friendly rather than stuffy). We even were lucky enough to be offered a kitchen tour after our meal and meat Grant Achatz.

          We enjoyed Bangkok, but not nearly as much as Childhood (we did not make it to Paris). We also enjoy the anticipation that comes with the ticket releases and You Tube video clips they turn out as new menus approach, but can see how this turns some off. We are planning on trying to purchase season tickets for 2012 when they are released next month. I was really pulling for them to receive a star.

          The changing of concepts every three months likely does make it a challenge for Michelin to evaluate Next (not to mention the difficulty in obtaining tickets). We will see what 2013 brings (hopefully it will be more climactic than the 2012 list).

      2. chicgail RE: nsxtasy Nov 15, 2011 02:02 PM

        Surprised to see Moto added. I will have to give it another try.

        Does anyone know what causes a Michelin-starred restaurant to lose a star? It sure wouldn't be a good day to be in the kitchen at Sixteen or NoMI or Crofton tonight.

        4 Replies
        1. re: chicgail
          nsxtasy RE: chicgail Nov 15, 2011 02:10 PM

          >> Does anyone know what causes a Michelin-starred restaurant to lose a star?

          The Tribune article notes that this often happens when a restaurant changes chefs or re-concepts, which explains Sixteen, NoMI, and L2O, or closes (Avenues). It notes the demotion of Crofton as "inexplicable". Maybe their inspectors had bad experience(s) there, although that's just a guess on my part.

          1. re: chicgail
            Gonzo70 RE: chicgail Nov 15, 2011 02:13 PM

            The linked article offers explanations to NoMI (was turned into a more casual restaurant than when it received it's star) and Sixteen (lost it's chef since last visit) but Crofton is more of a mystery.

            1. re: Gonzo70
              nsxtasy RE: Gonzo70 Nov 15, 2011 02:15 PM

              NoMI also lost its chef, Christophe David. As did L2O (and Sixteen, as you note).

              1. re: Gonzo70
                p
                PopMegaphone RE: Gonzo70 Nov 15, 2011 02:57 PM

                Judging by the meal I had a Crofton this year, it is no surprise to me. Walking out of that restaurant I was shocked it got a star.

            2. w
              willyum RE: nsxtasy Nov 15, 2011 04:51 PM

              Surprised that L2O dropped two stars, it's more typical for a place losing the chef to be decked one ... we dined there last spring and felt it was better than at least two of the NYC Michelin 3*'s that we've dined at recently (Daniel and Le Bernardin) ... guess we hit L2O on a good night.

              -----
              L2O
              2300 Lincoln Park West, Chicago, IL 60614

              19 Replies
              1. re: willyum
                a
                aburkavage RE: willyum Nov 15, 2011 05:55 PM

                Judging by many reviews here on Chowhound, a lot of people have hit L2o on a good night recently. I'm shocked they lost two stars.

                1. re: aburkavage
                  nsxtasy RE: aburkavage Nov 15, 2011 06:13 PM

                  I'm not. I was shocked they were given three last year. And I'm not alone; the reviews here (and elsewhere) have been decidedly mixed. Many people love it, but many others don't.

                  1. re: nsxtasy
                    a
                    aburkavage RE: nsxtasy Nov 16, 2011 02:33 PM

                    Have you eaten there?

                    1. re: aburkavage
                      nsxtasy RE: aburkavage Nov 16, 2011 02:59 PM

                      Yes. Have you?

                      1. re: nsxtasy
                        a
                        aburkavage RE: nsxtasy Nov 16, 2011 03:24 PM

                        Yes.

                      2. re: aburkavage
                        h
                        HoosierFoodie RE: aburkavage Nov 17, 2011 08:46 AM

                        I think the question should be "how recently have you eaten there and how many times".

                        1. re: HoosierFoodie
                          nsxtasy RE: HoosierFoodie Nov 17, 2011 09:00 AM

                          Actually, the question could even be, "have you been there under their current chef". Any time a restaurant changes chefs, the place changes. Laurent Gras founded L2O, and then Francis Brennan took over for a while. Matthew Kirkley was named the latest executive chef last week, so more changes are coming. You can read more about Kirkley and his background at www.chicagomag.com/Radar/Dish/Novembe...

                          1. re: nsxtasy
                            h
                            HoosierFoodie RE: nsxtasy Nov 17, 2011 11:07 AM

                            Went 4 times under Gras and last month. Under Gras I was always very pleased and thought it was among the top 5-6 in Chicago. I have just been once since the new chef has been in charge and I would now put it in the top 3 or so. Alinea I think is the best in Chicago but L2O and Tru have stepped up their game.

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

                            L2O
                            2300 Lincoln Park West, Chicago, IL 60614

                            1. re: HoosierFoodie
                              n
                              nextguy RE: HoosierFoodie Nov 17, 2011 11:13 AM

                              That's good to hear :)

                              I have a reservation in a Tatami room in December. I know it might not be for the best of reasons but I was reconsidering when the list came out.

                              1. re: HoosierFoodie
                                a
                                aburkavage RE: HoosierFoodie Nov 17, 2011 01:23 PM

                                Agreed. If someone gave me a couple hundred bucks to spend on one meal in Chicago right now, I'd probably go back to L2o.

                                1. re: HoosierFoodie
                                  s
                                  sleepercar RE: HoosierFoodie Nov 21, 2011 12:02 PM

                                  I agree with you whole-heartedly. I was sure Tru would get a second star based on my experience there last month. And while I was expecting L2O to lose a star just because of the Gras' departure, I thought they were 3-star quality when I ate there on the same trip and I'm shocked it was demoted so much.

                                  -----
                                  L2O
                                  2300 Lincoln Park West, Chicago, IL 60614

                                  1. re: HoosierFoodie
                                    danna RE: HoosierFoodie Nov 29, 2011 07:27 AM

                                    Wow. I'm so confused now. I absolutely ADORED my meal at L20 last Oct, not long before Gras left. having seen the Michelin list, i didn't even consider it for my upcoming visit right before Christmas.

                                    Trying to remember...do both L20 and Tru require a jacket? I promised the husband he didn't have to pack a jacket this time since we have to bring so many other cold weather clothes. Right now I have a reservation at Naha, which I plan to cancel if I were to luck into a Schwa reservation. Any advice?

                                    1. re: danna
                                      Gonzo70 RE: danna Nov 29, 2011 09:09 AM

                                      I know L2O does not require a jacket. Not sure about Tru. For Schwa, the best way to score a reservation is to call them frequently. It seems like late morning is a good time to call as well as late afternoon. The only negative with them is that they sometimes cancel your reservation on little notice (i.e. hours before your meal), but just about everybody who eats there says the food is amazing. I have reservations there for tomorrow!

                                      1. re: Gonzo70
                                        danna RE: Gonzo70 Nov 29, 2011 09:23 AM

                                        lucky you! please come tell us all about it, and while you're at it...look around for cabs after you leave for me! my husband is convinced there would be none late in the evening.

                                        1. re: danna
                                          Gonzo70 RE: danna Nov 29, 2011 09:38 AM

                                          I am likely taking a cab home; Ashland is busy street even at nighttime, so I would be surprised if it takes long to procure one - we shall see. I will let you know.

                                          1. re: Gonzo70
                                            Gonzo70 RE: Gonzo70 Nov 30, 2011 03:37 PM

                                            Well, Schwa pulled their last minute cancellation on me today; called at 4:40 to say that their pipes are broken and they can't open. Are squeezing me in tomorrow, but the person I was going with tonight can't make it, so now I need to try to find someone on short notice. I wish they did not have the reputation of such amazing food, because this is really taking a lot of time and effort to try and dine there!

                                            1. re: Gonzo70
                                              Gonzo70 RE: Gonzo70 Dec 1, 2011 10:14 PM

                                              Schwa came through tonight and was well worth the effort of scoring a reservation and the disappointment in being canceled on short notice last night. Each and every course was amazing; small portions but all extremely complex and really pack a flavor. I knew the food was going to shine, but what surprised me was how friendly the staff was and how visible Chef Carlson was (he not only served food and chatted frequently with guests, but even cleared dishes and helped set the table). The food matched my lofty expectations and the ambiance exceeded expectations. Will definitely be a repeat customer. I highly recommend putting in the effort to procure a reservation for those that have not dined here yet; it is well worth it! As for the question about cabs, I ended up driving but passed several cabs within a few blocks of the restaurant. You may not hail one immediately, but are unlikely to have to wait too long.

                            2. re: nsxtasy
                              d
                              DutchOenophile RE: nsxtasy Nov 20, 2011 07:56 PM

                              I went to L20 three times under Gras and have been 3 (or perhaps 4) since Matt Kirkley arrived. Though I respect his artisanship, I was not a fan of Gras' cuisine. I am, however, a major fan of Kirkley. This guy is young but has exceptional talent. He has only been there 5 months; give him a bit of time and you will see L20 continue to explode. It is, IMHO, excellent and right up there at the top of Chicago restaurants.

                              1. re: nsxtasy
                                lyndak RE: nsxtasy Dec 1, 2011 09:33 AM

                                I agree with nsxtasy. We were there in October and really the only part of the meal we thoroughly enjoyed was the Amuse (mini lobster roll). Other than that that rest of the meal was MEH. What disappointed us the most was the A11 beef was removed (menu on their website at the time indicated A11 Wagyu) and they told us they're now purchasing their meat from the little old grandma in the US somewhere. Although the story was "cute" it didn't make up for the fact that the meat was no where near A11 quality... big big disappointment for us.

                          2. nsxtasy RE: nsxtasy Nov 15, 2011 06:52 PM

                            As reported by Kevin Pang for the Tribune...

                            "Anonymous Michelin restaurant inspector talks stars, snubs, demotions and promotions" - www.chicagotribune.com/features/food/...

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: nsxtasy
                              Gonzo70 RE: nsxtasy Nov 15, 2011 08:46 PM

                              Great article, thanks for sharing this.

                              1. re: nsxtasy
                                chicgail RE: nsxtasy Nov 16, 2011 01:11 AM

                                No I am not that Michelin judge. But I'd like to be. Where do I apply for the job?

                              2. t
                                TAsunder RE: nsxtasy Nov 17, 2011 03:29 PM

                                I wonder whether The Aviary could ever qualify as a "restaurant" for Michelin consideration (or other restaurant awards). I feel they have better food than most of the 1 star places I've been to. Granted, each "dish" is one bite and they don't have entrees per se, but I still think it's an interesting place to consider. And they certainly have better alcohol options than any restaurant on this list, in my opinion.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: TAsunder
                                  Gonzo70 RE: TAsunder Nov 17, 2011 05:22 PM

                                  They definitely would be a shoo in for any type of cocktail lounge aware; totally amazing beverages made there and excellent service and ambiance. While the food is extremely good as well, since the menu is small and the portions far less than a typical appetizer I doubt they would be a serious candidate for a Michelin star.

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