Michelin

Michelin Couldn’t Get Next Reservations?

"Hey Grant, someone named Michel N. Guide has a reservation for tonight."

The one thing that would have been really interesting in yesterday’s announcement of the 2012 Michelin stars— which were 95% the same as the 2011 Michelin stars— would have been the question of how Michelin would have reacted to the restaurant that everybody is talking about— Next. On the one hand, it’s a totally new concept on so many levels, and Michelin is about nothing if not the preservation of the old old ways. On the other hand, while it lasted it was almost certainly one of the best, and undoubtedly one of the most traditionalist, French restaurants in America, which made it a slow pitch right over home plate for Michelin. But on the other other hand, it was only that great French restaurant for three months, at which point it became something else which they don’t seem to be any too expert on (Thai restaurants). So where our interest in whether, say, Spiaggia gets its star renewed was fairly academic, we were genuinely interested in the question of whether Next would blow Michelin’s mind, or leave them befuddled. Which makes the dog-ate-my-homework excuses in Kevin Pang’s The Stew post yesterday, explaining why Michelin didn’t even bother trying to say anything about Next, that much more exasperating.

"Hey Grant, someone named Michel N. Guide has a reservation for tonight."
"Hey Grant, someone named Michel N. Guide has a reservation for tonight."

But that is the experience that you needed to convey to your readers— that Next is a place where the same kitchen puts on radically different meals. Everyone in Chicago understands that; no one goes there looking at Childhood and saying "Hey, where’d the pad thai go?" As for the issue about not getting tickets— we’re a blogger, we can have trouble getting tickets. You’re a giant tire conglomerate that blows $24 million a year putting out these guides; pay through the nose for a few extra ones on Craigslist and go. If you spent 2011 returning multiple times to Crofton on Wells (opened 1997) and Moto (opened 2004) so you could make an exquisitely calibrated microjudgement about their one-starness this year versus twelve months ago, and yet you couldn’t get yourself to the most talked-about restaurant of the moment in America enough times to say anything about it at all, was that really the wisest use of your time in one of the top restaurant cities in America? And to what is, in the end, the point— is it worth $18.99 to us, your readers?

The food at Next was incredible. But we needed to see consistency. To receive Michelin stars, we have to go a number of visits. We’re playing that game with the reservation system, because we operate as regular consumers. We went as many times as we can get in. With the concept changing on an ongoing basis, for us it was problematic to accurately reflect (the experience) to our readers.”

But that is the experience that you needed to convey to your readers— that Next is a place where the same kitchen puts on radically different meals. Everyone in Chicago understands that; no one goes there looking at Childhood and saying "Hey, where’d the pad thai go?" As for the issue about not getting tickets— we’re a blogger, we can have trouble getting tickets. You’re a giant tire conglomerate that blows $24 million a year putting out these guides; pay through the nose for a few extra ones on Craigslist and go. If you spent 2011 returning multiple times to Crofton on Wells (opened 1997) and Moto (opened 2004) so you could make an exquisitely calibrated microjudgement about their one-starness this year versus twelve months ago, and yet you couldn’t get yourself to the most talked-about restaurant of the moment in America enough times to say anything about it at all, was that really the wisest use of your time in one of the top restaurant cities in America? And to what is, in the end, the point— is it worth $18.99 to us, your readers?

Michelin Couldn’t Get Next Reservations?