Gather 'Round the Table - Michelin Astrology

By Anthony Todd in Food on Nov 15, 2010 5:20PM

MichelinShh.jpg The Michelin Guide releases its first rankings for Chicago on Wednesday. We've already expressed a bit of cynicism about the rankings, and others have criticized the guide for using out of date standards, pandering to Yelp and including some mysterious choices on their existing lists. Last week, the Bib Gourmand, the Michelin awards for best value, were released to a flurry of attention, and it's only going to get more intense as the week progresses.

So, let's start predicting. Who is going to get Michelin stars? Before we jump into the discussion, it's important to get a few things straight. The Michelin system is not like the ranking systems we are used to, where every restaurant is considered and receives from 1 to 4 stars. Unlike the Tribune and the Sun-Times, the Michelin Guide star system is more of an award than a ranking. A chef may work his or her entire life to get a single Michelin star, and there are fewer than 90 three-star restaurants in the entire world. The Chicago dining community must remember this before we start start up the echo chamber about how every expensive restaurant in the city deserves a basket of stars.

It seems unlikely that we'll get more than one or two three-star restaurants. Alinea would seem the natural choice, given it's world-wide acclaim, but we may see a surprise or two. We're more interested to see the one-star restaurants, those places that don't cost $400 a person but that the guide thinks have a certain special something that sets them apart. These places will benefit most from a Michelin ranking, and they are restaurants that we can all go to. So, who do you think might garner a Michelin star? Our staff, including our new foodies Minna, Caitlin and John, has made some predictions - will we be right?

  • Caitlin - "Graham Elliot. In fact, the truffle-Parmesan popcorn should get its own star. It's a creative place with a constantly evolving menu. The food is interesting, the cocktails are interesting, and the chef is interesting. I wish someone would take me on a date there."

  • Minna - "The Bristol. Their duck fat fries and monkey bread haunt my dreams, as any dish made of either duck fat or buttery carbs should. Plus any opportunity to share plates is a joy, getting to try all sorts of different menu items for a (smaller) shared price. I don't think I've ever had a "bad" dish at the Bristol,or even a mediocre one."

  • Anthony - "The Gage. Between their cocktail program, their excellent food and the wonderful atmosphere, I'd be surprised if they weren't recognized in some capacity. The gastropub movement has become so important and so trendy, and they were an early arrival."

  • Carrie - "Naha and North Pond deserve at least one star. Both consistently and flawlessly execute modern American cuisine and have been pioneers in putting our city on the map as a "dining destination." Chef Sherman definitely deserves a nod for his dedication to the slow-food movement and presenting it on the plate. The two restaurants may lack a bit in inventiveness when compared to Alinea thus jeopardizing an award of two or three stars."

  • John - "My money is on Avec. Combining a menu that is haute cuisine with prices that make the bourgeoisie smile, the decadent tastes and funky atmosphere of Avec warrant a Michelin star."