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This has been talked about for quite some time, but it looks like it's finally going to happen. From the press release

Michelin will expand its exclusive restaurant and hotel guide series in North America to include Chicago. The MICHELIN guide Chicago 2011, the first-ever MICHELIN guide for a Midwestern city, will be published in November 2010.


It will be interesting to see how this plays out. I think Alinea is the only slam dunk 3 star, but we'll see.
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#2
Posted July 13th 2010, 12:02pm
From Crain's Chicago Business:

Michelin guide brings star power to Chicago restaurants

It's expected to come out in November.
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#3
Posted July 13th 2010, 12:34pm
It's about time. But I have to wonder: Given the way Michelin scores and the types of restaurants to which they give 2 or 3 stars, how will they appreciate what Chicago has to offer? The only place I think would be in consideration for 3 stars is Alinea, but it wouldn't surprise me if L2O, TRU, or even Trotters got equal an equal score, seeing that they serve a more "European style" experience. Common sense would dictate that 2 or 3 stars in Chicago (or any city) would be on the same level as the restaurants that have recieved 2 or 3 stars in New York or France. If that's the case - and Michelin doesn't change their decaying, Euro-focused view of an excellent dining experience - I sort of fear that Chicago will get shafted.

But, all of that aside, what do you all think will be in consideration for the coveted Michelin Stars? I got my money on Alinea with 3; L2O and Spiaggia with 2; and maybe TRU or Trotters with 1. It's always more difficult to distinguish a 1 from a 2 than a 2 from a 3 (follow me?)
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#4
Posted July 13th 2010, 12:49pm
pastry643 wrote:If that's the case - and Michelin doesn't change their decaying, Euro-focused view of an excellent dining experience - I sort of fear that Chicago will get shafted.


This is why I don't really care that Michelin is coming to Chicago. When my wife and I researched restaurants for our trip to France and Italy last year, one thing that was clear was that many Europeans regarded the the Michelin stars in a somewhat similar way to how we would regard the stars given by writers here: the stars tend to reward past glory and traditionalism, and ignore the up and coming restaurants that are doing the most interesting food. Put differently, I think many Europeans have the same view of the Michelin reviews within their own country as what pastry643 expressed.
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I sort of fear that Chicago will get shafted.


Shafted how? Will your experience be any different if some random person doesn't agree with you? It's little more than marketing and as subjective as any other review on this (or any other site).
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Shafted how? Will your experience be any different if some random person doesn't agree with you? It's little more than marketing and as subjective as any other review on this (or any other site).


Sorry for the confusion. I only meant that in the eyes of Michelin, I don't think Chicago will get the respect it deserves. Not that I will care, because it will always be a great food city to me. I have never been a fan of the Michelin guide, but I can't really deny the boost it gives a restaurant to be in the guide.
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I think it was fairly obvious that this is what you meant. :)

In any case, the book is a guide about where to eat in Chicago. Given the limited Michelin coverage of other cities in the US, it isn't really a guide about whether to visit here in the first place (though certainly some will use it that way). Instead, I think the question is which Chicago restaurants will "benefit" at the expense of others?
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This is good for Chicago restaurants as a whole, just getting the recognition of a guide from Michelin confirms the obvious fact that Chicago is one of the great food cities of the world. I'm always amazed by how many people still think Chicago is just hot dogs and pizza, having a Michelin Guide for the city should help dispel that idea and help a bit with tourism.

I am interested to see how Michelin rates Chicago's restaurants, mostly to get some perspective on how Michelin awards stars. I've read a lot about the debates surrounding Michelin's criteria in Europe and France, but I don't have much experience to help me put it in perspective. I assume places like Charlie Trotters, Les Nomades, or Alinea have a shot a 3 stars, but who knows? I would assume the usual suspects will get one or two stars (Blackbird, Spiaggia, L2O, Tru, etc.) and the only surprises will be places that aren't given stars, and not something like Hot Doug's getting a star :wink:
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this is good for Chicago imho.

Will it change where I eat or how I view places. nope.
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The interesting angle to me is not who will get two or three stars or who will get ignored, but rather who will get plucked from relative obscurity and awarded one star. It seems that Michelin, based more on their outsider perspective than anything else, generally taps one or two spots that the locals may regard with modest affection. I'm anxious to see which unexpected spots meet their one-star standards that I may have otherwise shrugged off.

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Michael
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Personally, over the years, I stopped paying too much attention to the stars in the French Michelin red guide when I travel to France.
But since they introduced the "Bib Gourmand" rating, in the early 90's, this little logo representing the head of Bibendum, the Michelin iconic funny character whose body is made from tires, always attracts my attention when I am looking for an interesting restaurant offering interesting well-prepared meals for less than 40 dollars.
Even though Chicago's edition will probably have less 3 and 2 stars restaurants than Paris, New York, or Tokyo guides, it might count many "Bib gourmand" eateries, since our city offers a wide panel of good value-oriented establishments.
Last edited by alain40 on July 13th 2010, 3:39pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Having following the discussion on other websites when Michelin entered New York, I got the impression that it was sort of a non event. This may be due to the dominance of the NY Times ratings and well as Zagat and other critics in NY. Will be interesting to see how Chicago receives it.

and the only surprises will be places that aren't given stars, and not something like Hot Doug's getting a star


In New York, I think it was more the reverse. When a locally well regarded place didn't get a good rating, it was viewed as Michelin just didn't get it, but when Michelin gave a good rating to someplace further down or off the radar screen, interest perked up.
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Darren72 wrote:Given the limited Michelin coverage of other cities in the US, it isn't really a guide about whether to visit here in the first place (though certainly some will use it that way).


Yeah, I received an invitation this morning for a reception tonight where I guess the formal, in-person Chicago announcement will be made. Mayor Daley will be delivering remarks.
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This is no different than having a restaurant featured on Diners, Drive-ins and Dives. It's some "authority" giving a place recognition based on some arbitrary standard. You can't just create a culture from whole cloth and make it meaningful. It's just going to be a pretentious Yelp.
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spinynorman99 wrote:This is no different than having a restaurant featured on Diners, Drive-ins and Dives. It's some "authority" giving a place recognition based on some arbitrary standard. You can't just create a culture from whole cloth and make it meaningful. It's just going to be a pretentious Yelp.


There are plenty of people who actually work in restaurants that would strongly disagree with just about every part of that statement. Take whatever value you want, but to many this is a BFD.
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jesteinf wrote:
spinynorman99 wrote:This is no different than having a restaurant featured on Diners, Drive-ins and Dives. It's some "authority" giving a place recognition based on some arbitrary standard. You can't just create a culture from whole cloth and make it meaningful. It's just going to be a pretentious Yelp.


There are plenty of people who actually work in restaurants that would strongly disagree with just about every part of that statement. Take whatever value you want, but to many this is a BFD.


I appreciate that there's business value in it, I'm just questioning the "value" in a Michelin "franchise." It means something in the right context. However, the act of declaring a new context devalues that meaning. To have a restaurant with local prestige and even national recognition potentially "devalued" on the world market doesn't alter its value or quality, so forcing a standard for what is clearly marketing opportunity is a bit ridiculous.
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I'm not sure what you mean by "forcing a standard". Does this mean Michelin should never issue a guide for any country but France?

Anyway, the value isn't for locals. I don't think this guide will turn up any hidden gems that haven't already been discussed here or in the local food media. I believe these guides are used mostly by international tourists, as Michelin is a brand they recognize.
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jesteinf wrote:Does this mean Michelin should never issue a guide for any country but France?


I mean that in Europe it's a standard. In the United States it loses context. And certainly applying a "world standard" to Chicago dining is, to me, a masturbatory endeavor.
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I believe that this will become a very expensive "PR" to get listed and do not believe that it will in anyway showcase the great restaurants in Chicago. I have dined in many three michelin restaurants in Europe and appreciate the standards but there is alot of business and culture behind the scenes that need to work out before Michelin will hand out those stars... REMEMBER!!!! This is not about ratings it is ultimately selling their red book! I will take the advice from this forum, check please!, Pat Bruno, the hungry hound, Phil Vattel and even metromix before I buy a Michelin guide(though it will be fun to look at!). Once again, In my own opinion!

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/02/24/busin ... wanted=all

Tokyo laughed at it when it came to their city!

Josh, Agree! This will be a very BFD for contemporary cuisine but how about our classics which we hold near and dear which would never get listed (steakhouses and ethnic restaurants for one do not have much of a chance as this is interperative cuisine and not indigenous to the locale.)
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I would be shocked if the list of starred restaurants varies in any significant way from what most consider to be the "best" restaurants in Chicago.

What steakhouse do you think would be star-worthy? Maybe Primehouse gets one, but that would be pretty shocking. And so what if none are starred...do you really think that steakhouses define what cuisine is in Chicago in 2010?

What I'm trying to say is the Michelin guide will have it's place (again, Chicago residents ARE NOT the target audience). The GNR list has it's place. Phil Vettel has his place. Etc. We're all smart people here...use what works best for you.
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Josh
Definately I agree with all you are saying and it is just another media outlet to show off our city and you know what they say about press in a restaurant (Good, bad, or mediocre) its all good to get the name out. I am NOT against the Michelin rating when it comes to fine dining, but I am just stating the criteria is very specific when it comes to the ranking. I bet you will be lucky to see Chef Bayless, Bruce Sherman, Paul Kahn, Paul Virant and the many other chefs in their prime get featured as the criteria is specific and if you do not set it to their standards it will not get rated...period.
For example, I have done culinary translations for a chef in europe whom has recieved 2 michelin stars but is ranked in the top 5 of San Pellegrinos Top 50 Restaurants in the World. The criteria IS biased and there is no way anyone can argue this when it comes to Michelin stars.
I think you will be a little shocked when this final list is drawn. I will state now that Alinea will get 2 stars and the Everest Room will get 3. I think it would be fun to post a poll (kind of like a baby pool!) and see if our selections will match what the team from Michelin will decide.
Once again, this is in my own opinion and any PR for Chicago is good in the international circuit!
Sorry for the edit: Do I think steak in Chicago defines what Chicago Cuisine is today? Yes I do. Traveling outside of this city and country one thing is for sure...we have some of the best beef in the world hands down. When prepared right in a great setting I rank it with some of the best meals that I have ever had. Contemporary cuisine is fleeting and kind of like chasing a carrot on a string but our midwestern mainstays will always be with us and should deserve the accolades that our farmers produce here in the center of the USA!
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JohnH wrote:Josh
I will state now that Alinea will get 2 stars and the Everest Room will get 3.


Hmmm, I smell a wager. :)
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I bet Arun's is the best Thai restaurant in town.

Indeed, the only one.
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Mike G wrote:I bet Arun's is the best Thai restaurant in town.

Indeed, the only one.


I went to Arun's with Andy (TAC Quick) last month to celebrate our birthdays. The presentation was fantastic. Some of my favorite dishes were the filets of red snapper with three-flavored chili sauce, the spiced pork larb, the panang beef curry, sea scallops with kabocha-chili sauce and the coconut vermicelli wrapped prawn with tofu, crisp bean sprouts and fresh garlic chives. However, I was disappointed with the spice level. Maybe my expectations of "thai spicy" are really high because I always have Andy increase the intensity on all of my meals. Would I go again? Probably not when Chicago has so many other intriguing restaurants of that caliber. Even though it was a wonderful experience, I still have yet to find a place in Chicago (Spoon comes close) that matches Andy's cooking when it comes to Thai food. I especially prefer his curry above all others!
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Mike G wrote:I bet Arun's is the best Thai restaurant in town.

Indeed, the only one.


I couldn't agree with you more, and you can probably take that one to the bank.

Michelin does a pretty good job where a certain standard of service, ambience, consistency, and nodding to tradition is a given. Thus, I find it to be a useful guide in France where there seems to be considerable national consensus on these elements at almost every level (with the exception of routiers). Other than the the higher white-tablecloth levels, however, I find it to be of much less value in Italy, where serendipity, informality, and often inconsistency have a far greater impact on the dining experience. I don't think the total Chicago dining scene has much in common with either France or Italy, but with its wealth of ethnic restaurants (altho only infrequently at upper levels) and now American-bistro-grastropub establishments, I doubt whether the guide will be of much value or hold many surprises for the seasoned Chicago diner. They'll probably be on the money at the luxury end -- and there let the debates begin -- but below that, I predict the guide will be more renowned for what it excludes rather than for what it includes.
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I'm always amazed at our ability to argue about something before it happens. It is only a matter of time before someone (Kenny?) fakes a new restaurant opening -- maybe one that promises boutique BBQ? Or gourmet Thai? -- just to see how many pages of debate get racked up.
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They'll probably be on the money at the luxury end -- and there let the debates begin -- but below that, I predict the guide will be more renowned for what it excludes rather than for what it includes.


Which, of course, is the whole point of being French.
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There's an interview with the worldwide director of the Michelin guides in the new Dish column from Chicago magazine, mostly about the process they use for determining the ratings. It's on their website here.
Last edited by nsxtasy on July 14th 2010, 4:41pm, edited 2 times in total.
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jesteinf wrote:
spinynorman99 wrote:This is no different than having a restaurant featured on Diners, Drive-ins and Dives. It's some "authority" giving a place recognition based on some arbitrary standard. You can't just create a culture from whole cloth and make it meaningful. It's just going to be a pretentious Yelp.


There are plenty of people who actually work in restaurants that would strongly disagree with just about every part of that statement. Take whatever value you want, but to many this is a BFD.


A Michelin star (or two) is certainly a BFD for restaurant people. It carries a lot of weight with international tourists; as someone already mentioned, the guide is recognizable to them. I'm still astonished by how many tourists enter the dining room with their Zagat guides. Michelin will be a step up from there. It's much the same for hotels, whether it's the AAA rating, Travel + Leisure, or the Conde Nast ratings--certain tourists will want to stay in these hotels more because the "authority" has given it a good rating. Like it or not, customers give weight to reviews, whether they be Michelin, Zagat, Yelp or (ugh) MetroMix.

I don't know what, if any, difference the Michelin ratings will make to locals. It will make no difference to me, but I am not likely to dine often in the restaurants that will earn stars. I think for most of the population, it will be a total non-event.

That said, at work we have been expecting the Michelin people for about a year now. Everybody is excited to see the ratings come out in November.
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jesteinf wrote:
JohnH wrote:Josh
I will state now that Alinea will get 2 stars and the Everest Room will get 3.


Hmmm, I smell a wager. :)

I'm game on that! Lets think of a creative (non super expensive) wager on this for fun. Will get back to you on this! :D
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