Michelin Guides have reached Los Angeles. Hooray.


As Los Angeles Times and Eater LA and every other LA-minded food blog has told you by now, Michelin screwed up big time. By virtue of a tech glitch, LA’s list of starred restaurants went (briefly) live Friday instead of Monday at noon. Major whoops, but not necessarily surprising; I seem to remember back when Michelin paid a press visit here this spring, they didn’t even have plans for a website.

While it’s a heckuva PR blunder, I’m having a hard time working up much righteous indignation — or delight — as to who was and wasn’t starred. Not because the winners aren’t deserving; I don’t think anyone could look at the list and point to a bad or even mediocre restaurant. And not because they got everything right, at least not in The World According To The Knife. It’s that… well, what’s the point?

Michelin declared 18 area restaurants star-worthy. Fifteen got one ("very good restaurant in its category") and three received two ("excellent cooking and worth a detour"). Judging by Michelin’s choices, I’d suggest a subhead: Very Good Restaurants that are Very Fancy and/or Very Expensive. (The official Michelin tagline: "How To Find Perfect.") As such, the guide is of limited use and, for me, appeal.

The idea that VGRVFVEs are the only restaurants worthy of attention is more than silly; it’s a depressing way to look at any culinary scene. And with all due respect to Jonathan Gold, I’m not even making an argument for including the CounterIntelligentsia in such a list, but being quite this exclusionary is a weird way to look at any food world.

That said, I’m not at all surprised that LA doesn’t have a three-star restaurant. So far, Michelin has deemed only six in America as worthy of the title: French Laundry in Yountville, CA, Joel Robuchon in Las Vegas and four in NYC: Alain Ducasse, Jean-Georges, Le Bernadin and Per Se. All of them are run by chefs generally acknowledged as far and away among the best in the world and, so far, LA doesn’t seem interested in supporting that kind of talent.

Before you disagree, a question: How many locals and visitors do you know willing to pay $250 per per person for a tasting-menu dinner, wine not included, on anything like a regular basis? Not how many people can afford it  — we’ve got that covered– but how many would do it?


1 Comment


One response to “Michelin Guides have reached Los Angeles. Hooray.

  1. david

    “Unlike many LA natives, our anonymous inspectors try hard NOT to be noticed”
    Michelin certainly knows how to appeal to Angelenos. Apparently they think we love to be insulted.
    I don’t think natives have much of the blame with the city supporting a 3 starred establishment. More than SF or NYC, our restaurants rely more on locals than tourists. The problem I see is with the international tourists. They don’t know where to go to dine. There is a confusion between celeb-driven restaurants and the ones that are considered to be outstanding. In NYC there’s this transient international quality at great establishments. In LA, at our best restaurants, I don’t see it. It’s locally driven. We just don’t have that international dining crowd to support Alain Ducasse.

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