Michelin 2012: Benu, Baumé, and Saison Get Two Stars; Sons & Daughters, Atelier Crenn Both Notch One [Updated]
Hip and young gourmands in France may be eye-rollingly fatigué over Michelin and everything they represent old-school haute cuisine, tablecloths, and the types of restaurants only their wealthiest grandparents truly care about but here in the U.S. the guides are still new to us and feel pretty prestigious. It's the French, after all, and when they give their blessing to San Francisco's humble (and less than humble) eateries, people from far and wide tend to listen. All year we've monitored the local inspectors' telling tweets, and all morning, local chefs who've been honored with one, two, or three stars were receiving congratulatory phone calls from the Michelin folks. As we predicted last week, Benu and Saison have garnered two stars, and Sons & Daughters and Atelier Crenn both debut in this year's guide with one star apiece; the French Laundry, unsurprisingly, has held on to their trio of macarons, as has Meadowood, with no new additions to their three-star ranks. See the fully updated and official list below.
Manresa, which Thomas Keller (or someone on his team) tried this afternoon to tell us had been bumped to three stars, has in fact held steady at two stars, as chef David Kinch confirms. Update: Thomas Keller, or the employee responsible for his occasional twitterings, issued an apology and some congratulations to David Kinch. [Chef_Keller/Twitter]
One of the only real surprises here, and a vindication for chef Bruno Chemel who got abruptly pushed out at Chez TJ after failing to renew their two stars in 2010 and then moved on to open his own place in Palo Alto is that his restaurant Baumé notches two stars this year after debuting in the guide at one star last year. (Chez TJ owner George Aviet even told the Mercury-News that Chemel was "incapable of earning two stars." Haha.) Chez TJ, meanwhile, sticks at one.
Among the notable snubs: Nopa, which dropped off this year's Bib Gourmand list and did not receive a promotion; and Mission Chinese Food, which perhaps isn't a surprise given that this is Michelin, after all, and Lung Shan is Lung Shan. Also, in the same neighborhood and perhaps suffering the same ghetto-aversion of the inspectors, is Commonwealth, which despite tons of accolades this year does not notch a star and was not a Bib Gourmand pick either.
Chef Dominique Crenn, in confirming her restaurant's star via text, says, "After only eight months in business... We are so happy." Michael Mina, which held two stars in 2009, got downgraded to one, and had dropped off the list in 2011 due to their closure and pending relocation, returns to the guide with one star. And a couple of outer-Bay Area additions: La Costanera (Montara) and Terrapin Creek (Bodega Bay) each notch a fresh star this year.
Ubuntu retains their star, despite taking a lengthy winter hiatus this year (which was likely announced too late to change anything in the printed guide). And alas, Chez Panisse did not get their single star renewed, which Alice Waters said last year she doesn't really care about anyway.
If you want to nerd out and compare, here's last year's list for reference.
The Michelin Guide San Francisco 2012
Including the Bay Area and Wine Country - Italics indicate a new addition to the list or a promotion
* One Star: (very good cuisine in its category)
Alexander's Steakhouse (Cupertino)
Auberge du Soleil (Rutherford)
Dio Deka (Los Gatos)
Farmhouse Inn & Restaurant (Forestville)
Fleur de Lys
La Costanera (Montara)
La Toque (Napa)
Madera (Menlo Park)
Madrona Manor (Healdsburg)
Plumed Horse (San Jose)
Sons & Daughters
Terra (St. Helena)
Terrapin Creek (Bodega Bay)
The Village Pub (Woodside)