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stirring the lees with james molesworth

Giving Credit Where Credit Is Due

Photo by: David Yellen

Posted: Feb 26, 2007 12:30pm ET

If you're going to call critics or guidebooks on something you feel they got wrong, then you have to learn to give them credit when they get it right.

I was among those who thought the Michelin guides entered the New York and San Francisco markets with a whimper, hampered by a preference for classic French cooking that limited their ability to judge the panoply of restaurants these two great cities feature with an open mind.

In France, however, where the guide still carries a lot of weight, they get it right more often than not (though they can be slow to give more contemporary cuisine its due). In the just-released 2007 version, the guide couldn't be more right in giving Maison Pic its third star back. I had caught wind of the pending upgrade a few weeks ago but held off on rumor mongering until the official word came out.

Pic is where I usually stay when I am traveling in the southern half of the Northern Rhône (while visiting producers in Cornas and Hermitage). The hotel features modern and Provençal-styled rooms, as well as a casual bistro and a formal, very elegant restaurant. Owner and chef Anne-Sophie Pic is exacting in her detail and passion, and she has worked hard to regain the star lost after her father's death more than a decade ago. Head sommelier Denis Bertrand oversees a highly professional staff of wine servers and the excellent wine cellar.

Most recently, in November, I had dinner there with Hélène Garcin-Lévêque and her husband, Patrice, who brought wines from her family's Bordeaux properties as well as her own Argentinean project, Poesia. Though he had never had the Argentinean wine before, Bertrand was accommodating and open with no French bias at all (hopefully Michelin is paying attention), as he served the wines and tasted along with us. It was a memorable evening, and one easily worthy of three stars ...

Hoyt Hill Jr
Nashville, TN —  February 27, 2007 12:54pm ET
I agree with the elevation of Pic to three stars. However, demoting Taillevent, which is as fine a restaurant as there is in the world (I have dined there numerous times) after 34 years with a three star rating, is a terrible injustice. Do they really think Jean-Calude Vrinat and his staff suddenly forgot how to run a restaurant? Ridiculous.

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