Thursday, October 05, 2006

SF's Michelin Ratings Are Out

Last year, I skipped coverage of NY's Michelin ratings because, well, the NUVO Best of Indy list came out and I was too busy buying liquor and sleeping pills. Seeing Red Lobster as "Best Seafood" restaurant will do that to you.

For whatever reason, I've been more inclined to mention that San Francisco's shiny new Michelin guide just came out, the second in the United States. So has everyone else which has made my job muy easy. Below are pointers to some of the write-ups and comments. Those of you who see SF as merely a pit stop to get to Napa or Sonoma Valley will also take heart -- quite a few wine country eateries made the list including the only three star award for Thomas Keller's eponymous French Laundry.

If you follow the boards at chowhound or egullet, you'll know there have already been thousands of words written -- online gnashing of teeth and rending of hair -- over who got two stars and why. (Gary Danko, one star? Are you kidding me? And Michael Minna, two? Were they smoking medicinal marijuana?) Chez Panisse, Boulevard, La Folie -- they're all there. Zuni and Slanted Door are not.

At the end of the day, we should all be happy we're having the conversation. With two Michelin guides in the US now, we should take it as some sort of validation, albeit reluctant, that Europe can no longer ignore American food, at least in New York and San Francisco. I don't for a minute believe that most French chefs are the snobs as they're usually painted. Most chefs I know -- American or European -- are all obsessed with the same things: quality, creativity, and producing food that tastes good and that their customers love. But the real snobs -- Michelin critics and those who swear by the red guides only, now at least have a little validation that it's safe to eat in America. At least, if you can get a reservation at French Laundry.

*Michael Bauer: Making Sense of the Michelin Stars
*Michael Bauer: A Closer Look -- Three Year Old Information and Inaccuracies
*Slashfood: Do You Agree with the SF Michelin Ratings?
*San Jose Mercury News: French Laundry Nabs Three Stars
*San Francisco Chronicle: Who was in and who was out -- a French bias?

And for a really fun read, here are Frank Bruni's notes on trying to get a reservation at Per Se. If the New York Times food critic can't get in, then we common folk shouldn't feel so bad.

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