What is the Michelin? Michelin itself is a tire company. As a very smart marketer it was very cognizant of how important it was for their customers to find places to refuel, change car batteries, or their tires while on long road trips. So in the year 1900 Andre and Edouard Michelin decided to create a manual offering all the locations of these useful resources free of charge. It wasn’t until 1926 that they decided to add restaurant recommendations to their guide book. Because they vowed to keep the restaurant recommendations as honest and unbias as possible, they opted for undercover inspectors to go and review. And so came about the star grading system which is pretty much like a golden seal of culinary excellence for any restaurant receiving one today.
The grading system is based on 0-3 stars, 3 stars being the highest grade. One very important thing to note about this grading system is that it ONLY takes into consideration the quality of the food, technique of preparation, and consistency and personality of the food.
You’ll notice that service and the restaurant’s ambiance are not considered specifically with the star rating. So essentially you could be eating the best piece of steak you’ve ever had, and will ever have, but still get less than stellar service from your waiter. So I suggest you take the Michelin Star system exactly for what it is and not read too much into the hype. They do however give you a description of the ambiance and other non-food related factors
In my opinion cooking comes from the heart even for the most competitive chefs out there. If you were to ask any of the chefs at these restaurants why do you cook, what is your first memory of food and cooking? Very often I’m sure it is surrounded by memories of home, of warm kitchens where their families cooked not for stars but to feed the family, to keep the family healthy, to keep the family going.
So it is with closely knitted memories like these, of food that I hold dear to me, I question the sought-after approval this rating system offers. If I were to have come home from school and had my favorite homemade dish from my mom or grandmother and I had the chance to savor it, smell the different layers of spices, and marble at how a perfect bite included a chunk of meatloaf and a dollop of smashed potatoes and a smidge of gravy; and truly melt like a puddle of butter from one bite, only to then abruptly be rushed out of my seat, or wait forever for a glass of milk, or get pushed aside because my shoes weren’t shiny enough to get a seat at the table…well then, that’s probably what I would remember most, and I’d probably second guess that favorite dish for the next time and maybe instead just grab an ice-cream cone on the way home.
Now, that’s not to say that these places may not have great service as I’m sure most of them do. But I just wanted to clarify the hype about Michelin Stars for anyone contemplating half of this month’s rent or dinner at Le Bernadin just because it got 3 stars?
And now without further delay, The Michelin Stars system:
One Star: A very good restaurant in its category
Two Stars: Excellent cooking and worth a detour. First class cuisine of its type.
Three Stars: Exceptional cuisine and worth a special journey. Often extremely expensive, and with an extensive wine list.
The list below is an abbreviated list for the year 2013 New York only, but you can get the full list should you so desire by purchasing the actual guide from Michelin.
One Star Recipients
15 East Restaurant – Sushi
A Voce Columbus – Italian
A Voce Madison – Italian
Adour Alain Ducasse at The St. Regis NY – French
Ai Fiori – Contemporary European
Aldea – Mediterranean
Annisa – American
Aquavit – Scandinavian
Aurole – American
Blue Hill – American
Bouley – French
Café Boulad – French
Casa Mono – Spanish
Danny Brown Wine Bar – Contemporary European
Del Posto – Italian
Dovetail – American
Dressler – Contemporary American
Gotham Bar and Grill – Contemporary American
Gramercy Tavern – American
Hakkasan New York – Chinese
JUNGSIK – Korean
Junoon Restaurant – Indian
Kajitsu – Japanese
Minetta Tavern – French
The Modern – Dining Room – French
The NoMad – Contemporary American
Oceana – Seafood
Public – NoLita
River Café – American
Rosanjin – Japanese
Rouge Tomate – Contemporary Amercian
Saul Restaurant – Contemporary American
Seasonal Restaurant and Weinbar – Austrian
Two Star Recipients
Atera – Contemporary American
Corton – Contemporary French
Gilt – Contemporary American
Gordon Ramsey at the London – Contemporary French
Marea – Italian
Soto – Japanese
Sushi of Gari – Japanese
Tamarind – Indian
Tulsi – Indian
Wallse – Austrian
Wd-50 – American
Yakitori Tori Shin – Japanese
Three Star Recipients
Daniel – French
Eleven Madison – American
Jean Georges – French
Le Bernadin – French
Per Se – American