Michelin had planned on Monday, November 12 to announce the top restaurants in its first-ever restaurant guides to Los Angeles and Las Vegas, but word leaked out early thanks to a glitch on the company's web site. Saturday's Los Angeles Times contained a complete list of the star winners, the accuracy confirmed by a rueful company representative.
L.A. and Las Vegas are the third and fourth American cities reviewed in red guides by Michelin, which has already done New York and San Francisco twice. And like those guides, these are chary with the stars. No L.A. restaurants earned three stars, and only Joël Robuchon got them in Vegas.
To me, it's no surprise that it was a French restaurant. Michelin protests that its American guides reflect the culinary diversity of American cities, but restaurants that hew to the niceties of French gastronomy, presentation and service get most of the accolades. The lists of its star winners do include a sprinkling of Asian, Latin American and Italian places, but look at what wins.
In L.A., Wolfgang Puck, classically trained in Europe, hit the closest thing to a jackpot. He got two stars for Spago, his flagship restaurant in Beverly Hills, and one for his new steakhouse, Cut, a few blocks away.
L.A.'s other two-stars are Melisse, Josiah Citrin's French redoubt in Santa Monica, and Urasawa, the ultra-luxe, super-exclusive Japanese restaurant that replaced Ginza Sushi-Ko when its owner left for New York to open Masa--a two-star winner there. Urasawa is not French, but you can see why inspectors with a French-derived checklist would score it highly.
Among Los Angeles' 15 one-stars are but three Italian restaurants—La Botte in Santa Monica, with its elegant dining room; Trattoria Tre Venezie in Pasadena and the Wine Spectator Grand Award winning Valentino in Santa Monica. Three Asian restaurants get one star—he endlessly inventive Matsuhisa, the flagship of the Nobu empire, and two surprises, the sushi bars Asanebo in Studio City and Mori, a hole in the wall down Pico Blvd, from Valentino.
Aside from Cut, opened only last year, several relatively new restaurants made the L.A. list. Ortolan, Providence and Sona are less than five years old. The rest have been around a while: Joe's in Venice, Grand Award-winning Patina in Los Angeles, the Dining Room at the Ritz-Carlton in Pasadena, Saddle Peak Lodge in Calabasas, and Water Grill downtown.
In Las Vegas, Robuchon is the big winner, getting three stars for his plush restaurant at the MGM Grand and a star for his Atelier next door. Guy Savoy gets two stars for his equally lavish restaurant at Caesar's Palace. Alex, the high-end French restaurant at Wynn, also got two stars, as did Picasso, a Grand Award winner and the restaurant at the Bellagio where chef Julian Serrano arguably established Las Vegas a true gourmet destination.
Of the 12 one-stars, eight are French or French-based American cuisine, including Alize, Andre's (the only starred restaurant not in a resort), Aureole (yet another Grand Award winner), Bradley Ogden, Daniel Boulud's DB Brasserie, l'Atelier, Michael Mina and Mix (another star for the much-honored French chef Alain Ducasse). The others are Le Cirque (the only Italian place), Mesa Grill, Nobu and Wing Lei, the creative Chinese restaurant at Wynn.
One notable omission jumps to mind: Bartolotta Ristorante di Mare, Paul Bartolotta's superb Italian restaurant at Wynn Las Vegas. Maybe his true-to-form, utterly simple food from incredible ingredients just wasn't fancy enough for the Michelin crew.
And if you're keeping score, Bellagio, Caesar's Palace and Wynn got three starred restaurants each to lead the pack. Let the PR wars begin.
Ron Zimmerman — Woodinville, WA — November 13, 2007 6:31pm ET
James Suckling — — November 13, 2007 7:04pm ET
Harvey Steiman — San Francisco, CA — November 13, 2007 7:51pm ET
Bill Robinson — Calgary — November 16, 2007 5:36pm ET
Chris Haag — November 27, 2007 7:07pm ET
R Lindemenn — Las Vegas, Nv — November 28, 2007 5:49pm ET
Sips & Tips | Wine & Healthy Living
Video Theater | Collecting & Auctions