It's official! The 2013 Michelin guide for New York City has just been released.
The Michelin Guide is a guide book published by Michelin (yes, the tire company) that reviews and rates outstanding restaurants around the world. It originated from France in 1900 and was pretty European-centric until 2005, when it published its first guide for the US (New York City, to be more specific). Since then, it has published guides in many cities, including Tokyo, San Francisco, Chicago, and Las Vegas.
According to the Michelin Guide, one star represents a restaurant that is "very good cuisine in its category". Two-stars mean "excellent cuisine, worth a detour", and three stars are given to restaurants offering "exceptional cuisine, worth a special journey".
Cherry Belle Radishes and Miner’s Lettuce with Black Winter Truffle Mayonnaise at Per Se
There are some notable changes. Several newcomers came onto the list, such as two-star Atera and the following one-star places: Blanca, Cafe China, The Nomad, Torrisi Italian Specialties, Lan Sheng, and Hakkasan.
I'm thrilled there are three Chinese restaurants on this list. Hakkasan, a high-end modern Chinese restaurant, is originally from London and hails from the creator of the Wagamama chain (also from London). Cafe China and Lan Sheng are both Sichuan restaurants in Midtown. Out of all the newcomers, Torrisi Italian Specialties is the only one I've tried, and I can definitely attest that the food there is excellent.
Mosaic of Capon, Foie Gras, and Celery Root at Daniel
In terms of changes, the original chef of the shojin (temple) cuisine restaurant, Kajitsu, had left earlier this year. We visited Kajitsu right when the new chef had begun. Although it was a great dinner, we weren't blown away with the meal as much as we had hoped. It seems like the Michelin reviewers felt the same way, dropping it from a 2-star restaurant to a 1-star restaurant.
The three-star champions remain the same as last year. Out of all those places, Daniel is my favorite in terms of overall experience (the service, food, and ambiance were all just perfect), while Le Bernardin is still my favorite when it comes to the food (love, love, love Eric Ripert's command of seafood).
The two star list is still pretty exclusive (such a far cry from Tokyo, which currently has fifty-seven two-star restaurants). I love the food at Marea, although I found the total experience at Momofuku Ko to be more unique, surprising, and overall more interesting and fun. It's not a surprise that a reservation is so difficult to procure.
Parallel Tasting at Aureole in Las Vegas (also 1 star)
Bryan has eaten at way more of these 1-star establishments than I have. I know that he prefers Batali and Bastianich's B&B Ristorante to their 1-star New York establishment, Del Posto. Neither Bryan or I was particularly impressed with Aureole when we tried it in Vegas (even though it's also rated a 1-star there).
Gotham Bar and Grill
Somen noodles with Summer Cypress at Kajitsu (dropped from 2 stars to 1 star)
As I mentioned earlier, I guess I've only had the "1-star" version of Kajitsu because I tried it right when the new chef began. The experience was really interesting and the variety of plants and other ingredients was most definitely exotic. The entire meal just did not blow me away like I had hoped. Perhaps I need to visit Kyoto someday to get the true kaiseki or shojin ryori experience.
Porterhouse for two at Peter Luger
Picholine - closed
Sushi of Gari
Peter Luger must be one of the few cash-only places on this list (interestingly, contrast that with Japan, where it's not unusual for 3-star Michelin establishments to ask that their $500+ meals be paid by cash). Of course, the steak at Peter Luger is fantastic and probably worth all that hassle (though Carnevino in Vegas is still our all-time favorite steak place),
Trout Roe and Smoked Fish at Torrisi Italian Specialties (newly added to the list)
We loved our meal at Torrisi Italian Specialties, and we haven't even had their famous 20-course dinner tasting. The lunch was excellent, though we still like Il Buco Alimentari's pasta a bit better, and (of course), nothing beats Rome and our favorite place there.
Although the Michelin Guide may not catch every great little hidden restaurant in a city, it does a good job of at least choosing excellent restaurants to feature. I've never had a bad meal at a Michelin-starred restaurant, and in general, I agree with their rankings. 3-star establishment tend to be better than 2-stars, which are better than 1-stars.
Kampachi Tartare from Le Bernardin
However, I wouldn't just "Michelin-shop" when choosing where to eat in a new city. There are a ton of fantastic restaurants out there that have not been recognized by Michelin. Heck, entire cities (Boston included!) have never been reviewed by the Guide. In general, it takes a lot more comprehensive research (my favorites are Chowhound boards, local newspaper reviews, local blogs, and confirmation by other "top restaurant" lists) to really get a complete picture of any one city.
Nevertheless, the Michelin Guide works great, especially if you're short on time (hello business traveler like Bryan!). Chances are, you'll enjoy an excellent meal if you eat at any establishment recommended by the Guide.
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