Every year, the Michelin Guide’s anonymous inspectors trot out their judgment on our local culinary scene, building drama and discussion over who lost or gained a star, who got a Bib Gourmand, and who was robbed altogether? Let’s review.
1) The three-star pantheon
The biggest news was by far the fact that San Francisco finally has not one but two three-star restaurants, Benu and Saison (they both moved up from two stars this year). The French Laundry and the Restaurant at Meadowood were the only three-star holders in the region until now. Well done, Corey Lee and Joshua Skenes.
2) Fempire rising
Hearty congrats to chef-owner Suzette Gresham of Acquerello, who attained two stars this year (which is quite an anniversary present—it’s the restaurant’s 25th year in business). The other female chefs who hold two stars in the US are SF’s Dominique Crenn (Atelier Crenn) and Emma Bengtsson (Aquavit, New York).
3) Dine with a bib
While star sightings are fun and all, the restaurants with a Bib Gourmand designation tend to be more indicative of how the Bay Area really likes to eat. Check out the list of places that are deemed “Inspectors’ Favorites for Good Value” (two courses and a glass of wine or dessert for $40 or less; tax and gratuity not included) for ideas on places to visit that offer good bang for your buck. Newcomers like Kin Khao, Iyasare, and the Farmer and the Fox made the list, but another new addition this year is old-timer Anchor Oyster Bar in the Castro. Fascinating.
4) Weird and whoops
Some interesting things to note: Manresa maintained its second star, even though it remains closed from an awful fire; Maruya in the Mission got one star, but just lost both its sushi chefs; and how can Akiko’s and Commonwealth be overlooked, but Keiko à Nob Hill retains a star? So mysterious, Michelin.
Another year passes, and Chez Panisse has not gained its solo star back. Nor has Frances. And New York media hype-machine Tosca Cafe didn’t get a nod for anything. Three perfect examples of how the Michelin Guide isn’t the sole kingmaker, or bellwether. Carry on, Bay Area!