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Oct 25, 2013 03:52 PM

Would any Boston restaurants get any Michelin stars?

If the Michelin Guide came to the Boston area, what restaurants would get a Michelin Star or stars?

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  1. The ones that could afford the bribe money. Oh wait, am I thinking of the Phatom Gourmet? (misspelled on purpose.)

      1. Michelin should go to Portland ME before Boston. Preferably neither place.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Karl S

          oh, i guess it would be some kind of validation of the Boston food scene if Michellin rated Boston; I would be shocked if any place here would get 3 stars though there are several that would rate at least one star.

          If you look through the CH archives you can read opinions on this topic. I guess Neptune, Island Creek would be new additions as possible one star restaurants.

        2. i think we'd do ok in the one-star range. 3? no way.

          i've had the luxury of one 3-star michelin meal in alsace. the evening was impeccable from entrance to exit. even dining as a super-vip i have NEVER had an equally flawless dinner in boston.

          having worked for several james beard award winners here, i have a pretty good handle on boston dining. we are not there. it's not just food and flatware. service is a huge factor in the michelin system and boston cannot cut it on a high enough level consistently.

          22 Replies
          1. re: hotoynoodle

            Agreed. I'd be surprised if any restaurant here got one star.

            1. re: Karl S

              You don't think L'Espalier, Menton, Craige on Main or O Ya would get one star?

              Where would Olena rate?

              1. re: Eastwind

                I would be surprised if they got one star. Boston's restaurants just don't align with food-service-ambience in that way. Doesn't mean they don't have wonderful food, but the traditional Michelin culture is different (more consistently disciplined and groomed in all dimensions) than the culture we've grown here locally, shall we say. Boston's high end restaurants used to be stuffy, safe and stale; that world has gone with the wind, and now they are more casual or modern, safe and faux-idiosyncratic.

                1. re: Karl S

                  i disagree. if places like hind's head or royal oak can get one, i think someplace like craigie or clio could easily obtain 1-star.

                  for all the aspirations of menton and l'espalier they absolutely cannot approach the level of eleven madison (3-stars) or even taillevent (2-stars).

                  1. re: hotoynoodle

                    I just think the ambience of those places in Boston lacks true identity (the old L'Espalier, by contrast, did have that, even with the problems it had). You may be correct that Michelin would not care as much as I suspect it would.

                    1. re: Karl S

                      Michelin stars are presumably awarded only on quality and consistency of the food - NOT on ambiance or service. I am sure ambiance and service likely impact one's perception of the cuisine, but these are not what Michelin inspectors are supposed to be considering.

                      Having dined in over 30 different Michelin starred venues in the US during the past two years I am quite confident Boston/Boston area would have several restaurants starred were Michelin to commence coverage (certainly no three starred venues though and perhaps no two starred venues). Of places I have been (I live in Chicago, but travel periodically to Boston) Menton and L'Espalier would be solid one stars (with a chance at two). Craigie on Main and Guilias would be strong one star candidates. I have not been to O Ya yet, but from what I have heard this likely would be a no brainer. No 9 Park and Clio likely would have a good shot as well and as well as some other venues such as Oleana, Rendevous etc. I am heading to Salts next month for my first time, but have also heard great things about them. I was hoping Journeyman would be Michelin caliber, but was fairly disappointed in my meal there - so unless it was an off night I would take them out of the equation.

                      1. re: Gonzo70

                        Giulia? Michelin star? You have got to be kidding. I know some Hounds like the place, but you can't be serious.

                        1. re: mkfisher

                          Absolutely serious; I would say that Giulia compares very favorably to many Michelin starred venues I have frequented (and the chef/owner has sure worked at some highly regarded multi Michelin starred venues before opening Giulia).

                          While a "typical" Michelin starred venue does have more formal service, extensive wine program , formal service by an army of waitstaff there are several exceptions. In Chicago for example there are two BYOB venues (Schwa and Goosefoot) as well as some casual places (i.e. Mexique, Takashi) and one venue is simply a pub with great food (Longman & Eagle). Schwa not only is BYOB, but is extremely casual and service can be horrendous (they rarely answer the phone, by mid meal the staff is often highly intoxicated, they frequently close and cancel reservations an hour before your meal etc.). New York has even more casual type venues that are starred and are far from fine dining than is the case with Chicago. Michelin follows and stars far more than just formal, traditional fine dining establishments.

                          1. re: Gonzo70

                            If Mexique can get a star, literally any of the restaurants listed on this thread could theoretically be contenders. They serve Mexican fusion food - it's good, but not outstanding in any way - food, service, ambiance, beverage.

                            1. re: Gonzo70

                              Longman and Eagle is Michelin-starred? That's interesting.

                              1. re: LeoLioness

                                Yes, they have been all three years Chicago has been covered by Michelin.

                                1. re: Gonzo70

                                  Huh. I guess I don't really understand Michelin ratings. I've been to L&E several times and have always had excellent food, cocktails and service, but I can't help but wonder if reviewing a pub--even a very good one--is a way to try to hip up or make Michelin relevant in the US?

                                2. re: LeoLioness

                                  Wow! I was just there two weeks ago. Right outside Logan Square train station. I wouldn't call the meal or service earth-shattering, but it was very good. And bartenders were knowledgeable about bourbon. They have rooms for rent upstairs.

                            2. re: Gonzo70

                              I have been to Danji in NY which has 1 star and is proof you don't need great service, wine program, or even great chairs. You share a long table with other diners and you sit on a stool!

                              The Korean food is very good, but it's not the same level as E'spalier or Menton. Hard to compare because average check at Danji is only $38.

                              If Danji can get 1 star, E'spalier and Menton for sure would get 1 star. In fact I would say Toro is as good as Danji, so Toro should get 1 star too!

                              1. re: Gonzo70

                                OK. I've been laboring under misimpression that Michelin factors other things than consistency and quality of cuisine into the star ratings. So I withdraw my surprise remarks.

                                1. re: Karl S


                                  ^^^^here's a brief interview with 2 gentlemen who work for michelin.


                                  ^^^^and this direct from

                                  at the end:

                                  "Along with the rating of stars, the MICHELIN Guide provides a written description of each locale with a variety of symbols to give further insight into an establishment. Ambiance, specialties, and wine are just a few of the factors."

                                  they purposely keep a shroud of mystery over their criteria so places really will step up their game.

                                  having worked with graduates of ecole hotelière de lausanne, les roches, glion & bulle and cornell and spoken with numerous chefs with a galaxy of stars, they would die laughing (or of horror) if you suggested it was *only* about the food.

                                  1. re: hotoynoodle

                                    FYI the description of ambiance, wine etc. are totally separate from the stars which ONLY consider the food. Your link even explains that - for some reason you cut & paste some text out of context to make a misleading statement. Anyone can read your link and see that officially stars are all about the food - though I agree factors such as service, ambiance and to a lesser extent wine indirectly exert influence.

                                    1. re: hotoynoodle

                                      Again, this strikes me as long-held conventional wisdom about Michelin ratings. I'm surprised by assertions that it's only about the food. Wish I had more current experience of such places to speak more personally on the subject.


                                      1. re: MC Slim JB

                                        Ambiance and service probably have an indirect effect to some degree but I'm not totally sure. Momofuku Ko does have 2 stars and the service/ambiance are nothing great.

                                        1. re: pcarC4

                                          I think this Top 100 List might give a rough estimate of what restaurants in the USA that are in cities not covered my Michelin are star worthy. Of the restaurants in the Top 25 on this list that are in New York, Chicago and San Francisco most are Michelin 2 or 3 star; of the restaurants ranked 26-100 that are in New York, Chicago and San Francisco most are Michelin 1 star. Sure there are exceptions and Top 100 lists are inherently subjective - so I am by no means saying restaurants on this list definitely would be starred and restaurants not on this list would definitely not be starred, but the list does provide a rough idea of what restaurants might get starred (in this case O Ya, Menton, No 9 Park and Journeyman). I am very surprised L'Espalier is not on this list.


                                      2. re: hotoynoodle

                                        Sounds like Michelin is going to be outdated here and in most places around the globe if they are stuck on the fancy ambiance and over-the-top wine lists requirements.

                                        1. re: Eastwind

                                          for 1- and 2-stars they aren't. they never have been. it doesn't mean you can have dirty cutlery and beringer white zin and still expect to make the cut.

                                          please realize the guide's expansion outside of france is relatively recent and the shift in chefs no longer striving to succeed in the french fashion, with french-based food, is too. everything evolves and the culinary world changed more quickly in the last 2 decades than it did in all of the 20th century.

                      2. Of the restaurants I've been to I think Menton and Craigie on Main (if Cambridge counts) would garner at least one Michelin star, if not more.

                        Have yet to try L'Espalier, which if what I'm told is true, would also be Michelin worthy.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: ipsedixit

                          Agreed totally. I was going to reply to this thread last night but I got sidetracked. I don't think that ICOB or Neptune are inventive enough. They have great raw materials and cook really well, but neither the ambiance nor the intricacy of the menus are on the same scale as Michelin starred places in the UK and Europe.

                          I agree Craigie would probably get a star, and though I have not been, if the hype and reputation is to be belived - Salts; L'Espalier; Ouishii; Menton and Journeyman.