The Other Critics

Michelin’s Explosive New Red Book

Michelin dropped its ratings bomb today, and it’s safe to say that the New York restaurant world is, as usual, reeling. Though not as consequential as a Zagat snub, business-wise, the Michelin ratings are closer to the hearts of top chefs. (French chef Bernard Loiseau was widely believed to have killed himself over a Michelin downgrade.) The book is supposed to be in stores tomorrow (though our local Barnes & Noble says it’s not even at the distributor yet). We do, however, know of some surprises. Messrs. Boulud, Bouley, and Takayama are no doubt having lousy afternoons.

*Correction: Devi received one star, not two. We regret the error.

• Michelin doesn’t deign to say how exactly their reviewers determine their ratings, but apparently there’s only room at the top for Per Se, Le Bernardin, and Jean Georges. You could chalk it up to Michelin’s French orientation, except that Daniel, probably New York’s most traditional French candidate for three stars, only won two. (Ducasse is about to move, so it’s not included in the guide.) Bouley hasn’t completely rejoined the ranks of the gods since reopening his eponymous restaurant, so that wasn’t a surprise. But Masa is universally regarded as one of New York’s, indeed, America’s, very greatest restaurants, and it only won two.

• Two stars for Del Posto, meanwhile, is a great feat for the restaurant, and well earned. Likewise for the two-starred Dévi, an underrated restaurant that achieved the same with Indian food.

• But other superb Italian restaurants remain unstarred: Alto, San Domenico, L’Impero, and Dona. A single star means “a very good restaurant in its category.” What gives?

• We also wonder, meanwhile, how some restaurants wound up in the single- and double-star categories. You don’t bump L’Impero, Aquavit, Blue Hill, and restaurants of that caliber from a list that includes the Spotted Pig, an avowed “gastropub,” and Peter Luger, surpassingly crude even by steakhouse standards. And as much as we like Vong, Jewel Bako, La Goulue, and other starred restaurants, we can’t figure out for the life of us how they made the cut.

Michelin Guide

Michelin’s Explosive New Red Book