The Other Critics

Michelin: Gastronomic Bible Reads Like In-Flight Advertorial

When we saw the new Michelin ratings on the Web, before getting ahold of the actual book, we were left scratching our heads. (Read our complaints and suggestions here.) Now that we’re reading the thing, we’re becoming even more confused. This is supposed to be a guidebook? The descriptions are all breezy, self-contained little blurbs which seem more like something you would read in an airplane magazine’s advertorial insert than in the American edition of the oldest and most powerful restaurant guide in the world.

The examples below have not been carefully chosen to highlight the cheesiness and banality of the book. We picked restaurants from each star level (including unstarred) more or less at random and then looked up the review. The following soft rain of vague superlatives are all you get by way of explanation for the ratings.

Le Bernardin (three stars): “Ripert is a master in the treatment of fish and his cuisine spotlights the bounty of the sea … sauces here obtain their depth of flavor from ingredients imported from around the globe.”

Daniel (two stars): “It is in this palatial setting that Boulud turns the best domestic and imported seasonal products into artful dishes prepared in the French tradition.”

Babbo (one star): “It’s amazing that this ponytailed chef, who spent time cooking in a little village in Italy, finds time to man the kitchen at his flagship restaurant, but luckily for diners, he does … If you’re a pasta fanatic, the pasta-tasting menu offers a small portion of all the highlights. As secondi, the lamb chops, rabbit or sweetbreads all equal a tasty, traditional treat.”

Acqua Pazza (unstarred): “The kitchen at this stylish Midtown establishment takes much of its epicurean inspiration from the coastline of Italy, although meat and pasta lovers will find selections aplenty to satisfy them, too.”

Michelin: Gastronomic Bible Reads Like In-Flight Advertorial