So, what’s Tina actually thinking?
I’ve been a stargrazer since 2015, and I’ve been hooked ever since. I love the intimacy of a meal and the journey designed by a Chef. So I was naturally on the edge of my seat when the list was released.
Here are my thoughts:
Atelier Crenn not getting their third star. I can’t say that I am surprised at this point. The dining room has changed to new seating and they’ve added a chef’s table; though this is a popular move for those looking to bump their star rating, it’s possible that it’ll take one more year for those changes to settle into their scoring.
Do I believe that their is some conspiracy against her? Possibly. Chef Crenn is a very outspoken woman and pushes the conversation for the culinary world, which is (like everything else) a man’s world. She is definitely unafraid to voice her opinion and call out the patriarchal BS when she sees it. And it’s possible that that leaves a bitter taste in the voters mouths and the unanimity cannot be reached.
Coi joins the three-star club. Well, this took me by surprise. I cannot say that Coi left a positive impression on me. In fact, I didn’t like it very much. I went back in late 2015, when Chef Patterson was stepping down. It’s possible that I was going at a time of transition and happened to fall into their lull. Obviously, Chef Kirkley has done enough with the restaurant to impress the Michelin eaters. I am persuaded now to go back and experience a more resolved Coi.
Californios earned their second star. My timing with Californios was impeccable. I dined with them on Friday; the list was published on Wednesday. I am thrilled that the palate of fine dining is expanding. I loved the innovation between California produce and Mexican cooking styles. I thoroughly enjoyed my meal and experience. Michelin made right on this one.
No surprises here. The addition of In Situ and Rich Table to the list was expected for quite some time. There was conversation of In Situ’s move onto the list last year, but it was still newly opened; and Rich Table was on the watch list for at least two years now. These two were expected and Petit Crenn was left off the list for yet another year.
Sushi. With the addition of Kinjo and Kenzo, the sushi list is getting mighty long. Though I’m an avid sushi lover and I’m happy to see that new additions aren’t just from the category of ‘American (new)’ cuisine, I am worried with what that means for these experiences. To me, an omakase experience should be about the quality and mastery. Omakase translate to “I’ll leave it up to you” and I fear that Chefs will feel pressured to please the American palate, over-manipulate their dishes, and lose the purity of omakase.
Single Thread making a debut with two stars is impressive. That paired with Californios’ move-up caused enough commotion in the two star list that no one talked about Campton Place losing a star. This Indian-inspired restaurant boasted two stars since 2016 and lost a star in the 2018 list. I am disappointed to see it get bumped down because I thought the dishes were so flavorful when I visited in April 2017. I had noticed that it was quiet with many empty tables and the service was good but nothing absolutely amazing. It’s possible that they have released some efforts and that’s what led to the lost of a star.
Solbar also lost a star, which left them being the only restaurant to leave the list. (Aziza and Mosu also left the list but due to their closures.) It might be time for some other restaurants to leave the list as well. I think they were quite generous to leave Commonwealth on the list. Ingredients don’t just come together on a plate because it is placed there. Our expectations for the taste of American (new) cuisine can be much, much higher.
Though I’m ecstatic to see a Thai restaurant continue to be on the list, I don’t necessarily think that Kin Khao is the restaurant to boast a star. I think that Lers Ros is better in flavor. But I’ll simmer down because I can see that the service at Kin Khao is closer to the experience of a Michelin restaurant.
Next year’s list. Eight tables is a Chinese tasting menu that will expand the featured cuisines if it makes it onto the list next year. There has been a lot of dialogue around this restaurant, but I’m surprised Avery has not come up in any of these conversations. Avery has found home in the old Mosu space and Chef Rodney Wages Jr. is no stranger to being affiliated with stars. It is still preemptive for now, but I know to keep an eye on this one.
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