Michelin California

I thought this was a pretty sensible list overall. I don’t think they found me any hidden gems but they didn’t make any really unfair decisions either. All the restaurants that got stars were deserving. There were some omissions but they weren’t super egregious. Actually, I think the guide was much more harsh outside LA and SF…LA had quite a few two stars…but both Aubergine and Addison which IMO are better than most two stars are relegated to one.

The one star level has always lumped spectacular restaurants that perhaps lacked the consistency for 2-3 stars (Hayato, Dialogue) with everyday hits in their category that are solid but not mind-blowing (Bistro Na’s, Kali, for instance).

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Have you been to Saison lately? That was early 2018, when Skenes was chef. They cut the number of courses and made portions bigger. Gras came July 2018, and the course count went back up again. There are currently 11 courses on the full menu right now.

I understand that Saison had a chef change, but Gras was the chef of Saison well before the announcement of LAST YEARs guide. Why didn’t they drop the stars then? Also, Gras himself has earned three stars as the chef of three different restaurants (four if you include Saison, since he was the chef last year).

In terms of food alone, I’ve always thought Saison simplistic dishes might not suit Michelin. But not now, not when it’s as good as ever.

Sergio = Snubbed


I have heard that some chefs already knew the rating they were receiving (or not receiving).

I have to respectfully disagree on Addison. I ate the chef’s tasting menu there last month. If it was in Europe, I don’t think it would get one star if you were only counting what was on the plate. Service was top shelf however.

Michelin, the inspector and me.

If anyone has a Le Monde subscription, there’s a journalistic ride-along with a Michelin inspector as he inspects different LA restaurants.

Some choice snippets. About Dominque Ansel’s 189:

Nice presentation, the flesh was well cooked, while the portion was rather large [or rather fatty? edit]. The dish should have been warmer. The fennel pollen placed on the fish brought a sweet and slightly earthy taste; the aroma was slightly lacking in power and sweetness, but it was offset by the presence of onion petals.
When reading his report, it is clear that Tom appreciated the restaurant of Dominique Ansel for its good quality / price ratio, the home-made cooking, the fresh and seasonal products … but it is impossible to guess which distinction it will allot to him. We begin to understand the frustration of the chefs trying to decipher the Michelin psyche.

About Rustic Canyon:

In the evening, we head to the trendy, family-run Santa Monica neighborhood to join Rustic Canyon and Chef Jeremy Fox’s kitchen, which is very focused on vegetables. A colleague has already given it a pass, this means that the sign is a star: if the restaurant can earn a star, another inspector goes there to confirm the judgment. If they do not agree, a third (sometimes from abroad) can decide.
The quality of this restaurant leaves no doubt: at first, the taste of radish-kumquat-chilli is crazy. As Tom would say, A stimulating dish for the eyes, colorful. The radish is revived by the taste of citrus fruits, but also and especially by the butter of Macadamia nut, which gives a toasted, earthy side. It’s delicious, and that’s exactly what people want to eat today. He also finds that the room is dark and noisy and that the service is a little too urgent, but these are not parameters that come into the note. We only judge the plate, recalls Tom. And he finished them all. We bet on the star.

Sea Harbor:

…when he leaves for the third restaurant, a family-run Cantonese in the eastern suburbs of Los Angeles. Even if the guide does not respect any quota, he tries to represent in his selection the various communities present in California and to reward tables that are not necessarily in the hypercenter.

That’s how we find ourselves at Sea Harbor, a dim sum specialist frequented almost exclusively by the Chinese community. The huge room is full, smells like grease, children run between the tables of rotating trays supplied by imperturbable waiters in costume. Tom chooses half a dozen dishes on the photo card. The bao, ravioli, rolls of rice noodles: everything is good, just out of the oven (steam).
It’s better than I expected, said Tom, grabbing a steaming brioche.

And finally, Vespertine:

When we arrive at Vespertine, the receptionist walks us in the garden, makes us smell perfumes on the ground floor, sends us to the second floor to meet chef Jordan Kahn in the kitchen, then takes us back to the first to start dinner. “This is the kind of place where I can not come alone, it would be fishy,” says Tom. The succession of dishes begins to scroll.
Among them, a black alga that looks like a sculpture of Anselm Kiefer (“sea lettuce, watercress”, announces the server) or a pile of rainbow flowers (“savory cake and blackcurrant”). The best is still this plate entirely covered with a shiny black powder, where cutlery abut when they try to dive. It is only in the middle, on a surface ten centimeters in diameter where the plate is hollow, that the spoon comes out with a mixture of scallops, bone marrow and salt plum absolutely delicious.
Tom is absent three times in the bathroom. He is carried on his small bladder, he will explain later that it was to take notes. If not, how to retain in detail this deluge of refined dishes? Four hours of meal later, we leave delighted … but the belly heavy. “If I was doing this type of restaurant five times a week, I could not take it anymore,” said Tom, still looking so fresh.
He too liked what he ate. There is a real personality that develops from plate to plate. Spectacular cuisine tends to lack taste. That is not the case here. And it’s a change from restaurants in Los Angeles that spend their time [talking about the unique produce. edit]. So, two or three stars? Tom … but reports that the last time he came, the meal was a little less successful. To have three stars, you need a lot of stability.

Google translated and some things lost in translation edited by me. By the way, this came out on June 2, so you can guess that some of these restaurants might have already known.


I heard there were free hors d’oeuvres, so I came to check it out…

… and I ate here afterwards (my ode to California):

Congrats to ALL the winners! And though the tourists may now bypass the lesser-known restaurants not on this year’s guide, let us FTCers never forget the Mom&Pop places which instilled in many of these chefs their hunger, their drive and their passion…


Another snub for not being a major global city where Michelin probably didn’t spend much time eating in: The Angry Crab, a 2015 Viet-Cajun novelty for Chicago, gets bib gourmand. Boiling Crab in Little Saigon, Orange County, arguably pioneered this whole trend. Just sayin’ :thinking:


One star is supposed to mean “a very good restaurant in its category,” based only on what’s on the plate.

One star is supposed to require consistency. Per the then-director of the guides that’s why Chez Panisse lost its star.

There were 28 when I went.

Laurent Gras took over in July of last year, which should have been in time to be reflected in the SF guide that came out in November. August was the cutoff in 2010, when it came out in Octobrer.

But I guess it wasn’t good enough to earn 1 star…

Spago not getting a star is newsworthy, especially given that it had two stars 10 years ago. I don’t go very often, but I don’t have a sense that it has changed that much.

Did they announce the Plate list yet? I wasn’t able to find online.

All the Plates are in the print guide.

… and Andy Wang has chimed in.

Meh he just sounds bitter


I can say from experience that Bavel at best lacks consistency.

The Plate should be searchable on viamichelin.com soon if it’s not already.

Bazaar, Chi Spacca, and Auburn didn’t get a star.

I thought Auburn and Chi Spacca could’ve gotten one star seeing that Kali got one.

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All of the LA stars, Bib Gourmand and Plate restaurants are searchable on viamichelin.com. It wasn’t when I checked last night at 7pm.

At best, Bavel has some of the most delicious food I’ve eaten in LA. But Michelin is not about deliciousness; Michelin is about refinement and craftsmanship. A most delicious food list would look a lot different. And it would be very subjective.

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"There’s just one starred restaurant, Bistro Na’s, in the entire San Gabriel Valley, where the Chinese food rivals any other place in North America. "

It’s a fallacy to think that Chinese restaurants deserve stars just because Chinese food in LA is better than the rest of the country…

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