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Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Le Guide Michelin France 2005

Guidemichelin2005And so it is public, the press release for the Michelin Guide 2005 came out today, all speculation and trepidation could finally come to an end. The guide itself will be out on sale next Wednesday March 3rd, but the list is out now. (Merci bien, Degusto.)

The most interesting development has got to be the announcement of a new category, well, more like a supplement to the current categories. An additional designation espoirs has been added within each star category. The restaurants which are notated with espoirs are those who are not only better than the other in the same category, but also represent the hopes of the gastronomy world of tomorrow. The espoirs designated restaurants are -by all appearances- the ones to watch for a star promotion, though Michelin has made it clear that it would not be necessary for a restaurant to receive an espoir before being given a first or an additional star. Confusing enough? Heh.

Among the five espoirs in the two-star category is my favorite Le Meurice. I did a review of my first meal there a while back, I have since gone back and continue to be impressed with everything Yannick Alléno has been doing in that kitchen. It's great to see that all his hard work has been recognized by this new designation. Félicitations Yannick and Alexandre! Time to go back for another meal soon I think.

Also more congratulations are in order for the two other young chefs to watch. At Les Ambassadeurs, where our Louisa works, Jean François Piège receives the well-deserved second star, and at Le Bristol, Eric Frechon is also awarded his second. It's really high time for me to try Eric Frechon's food again. I've recently been oogling over his gorgeous book on rare ingredients. Next time I'm in Paris I am really going to try to make it.

L'Astrance, another fantastic place which is a favorite of a good friend of mine, also got its highly anticipated second star. I am also happy for Jamin, which has been toiling in relative obscurity since Robuchon's retirement a decade ago, and which is now finally gaining back the respect with a second star under Benoit Guichard. And of course, I am delighted for L'Entredgeu, which is given a Bib Gourmand, a designation given to places with a moderately priced menu deserving of attention.

There are also few surprises -to me at least- on the list. La Table de Robuchon, which has pretty much the same food as L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon with the addition of proper tables and linens, got a star, while L'Atelier has none. Not that I am arguing that either deserves or even aspires to it. Also, L'Epi Dupin, whose chef is rather fond of cloying sweet sauces -I have seen more things caramélisé there than I care to remember- is listed under the espoir list, purportedly as a place to watch for a star in the future. The only reason I go there -and I do on occasion- is because they are practically across the street from Le Bon Marché, and they have a big round communual table for singler diners. But a star in the future? I don't get it.

As for the demotion category, Julien in Strasbourg where I had a rather forgettable meal last Valentine's day has its one star removed, not a surprise at all, frankly.

Oh, right, and here's the entire list.

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And I forgot to mention another interesting development, the NY Times just reported that Michelin announced the publishing of the first US Michelin Guide, on New York, with San Francisco and other cities to follow. This should be fun!

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