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Michelin Chicago 2012 – 3 Stars... 2 Stars... Next? Trotter's? Topolobampo?!

November 14 2011 - 10:59 AM

Next_bites_chLast year only 2 restaurants got 3 stars… L2O and Alinea.

And three got 2… Ria, Trotter's and Avenues

The head chef from L2O left a day later. Avenues is now closed. The first question is whether the 2 & 3 star holders will hold on to them. A low-risk guess is that Alinea will. Avenues won't (duh- they're closed).

L2O might not. They lost Chef Laurent Gras and I would think that hurts them in the consistency department, one that Michelin touts as a major consideration. So regardless of the quality of Matthew Kirkley's elegant food, did Michelin hand 3 stars to a restaurant in the midst of significant staffing change?

Ria should stay at 2 and Trotter's should as well. Will either move up to 3 stars? I would guess tht Ria is more likely than Trotter's to do so (though my gut says Trotter's may get 2- not sure why).

Who else can leap onto the list at the multiple star tier? Les Nomades? They were in virtually every conversation about Michelin's omissions. The other might be North Pond, another missed pic. MK is widely considered an ommission as well. Will we see any makeup calls here? I'd guess at least 1 star for North Pond and MK. Les Nomades might get 2.

I would love to see Schwa crack into the 2 star level. There's nothing else like it and it's the only restaurant that gets me an intense reaction from other chef's like Heston Blumenthal and Mario Batali.

One big question is what will Michelin do with Next? It's a restaurant that changes every 3 months. That combined with the unusual ticketing process makes me think that Michelin will either take them or leave them. If they take them should they get 1 star? From ingredient selection to service they deserve that but with the wild swings in concepts, they may be omitted. The Paris menu (pictured) could have netted them 2 stars… the Thai menu, not. What makes Next work is exactly that variety. Variety is not Michelin's forte (love using that word in Chicago) but if they include it they should reward it, and give it a pair.

  Avec has been included on the Bib Gourmand list… but no star. Does this mean that Blackbird gets a second? They're one of my personal favorites. And Perennial Virant? Were they inspected in time? Do they jump into 2? And then the new restaurants? GT Oyster Bar? Cafe Des Architectes is a contender for a star as Chef Noguier's Bistronomic was included on Bib.

Finally, my reach pick is Topolobampo. The Bib Gourmand list saw more Mexican restaurants added and frankly, it's still in rare-air as exceptional fine-dining Mexican.

*** Alinea, L2O, Ria

** Trotters, Schwa, Blackbird, Next, Topolobampo

What am I missing? What about Moto?

–Josh Brusin