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DonRocks

Michelin 3-Star Restaurants

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Use this thread to write detailed reviews of any Michelin 3-Star restaurant in the world (and please link to your posts in the city's thread).

We can also start similar threads for 2-Star and 1-Star restaurants, and even Bib Gourmands or whatever they call them these days.

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I'd appreciate a 1- and 2-starred threads.  Never been to a 3. Well, at least not when I went that is.  Are we talking only current? Or ones that were but lost their luster but you went when they were that? Or maybe before the world recognized them?

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Ok, I'll start.  We visited 3 star Arzak on a recent culinary tour of the spectacular Spanish Basque region town of San Sebastian.  In a tiny town full of amazing food, Arzak fell flat.  Wine service for the wine pairing was subpar -- "this is a local wine" was the description time and again for the wines that were poured for each course.  No objection to drinking local, but if I'm at a Michelin starred restaurant and spending more for a meal than I've ever spent before in my life, I expected much better.  Much of the meal was very good, but little stood out and for 3 stars and an extremely high price point, we needed more. 

By contrast, nearby 1 star Extebarri absolutely blew us away and Barcelona's 2 star Disfrutar seems to me to be a serious contender for the unofficial successor to the shuttered El Bulli

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41 minutes ago, youngfood said:

Ok, I'll start.  We visited 3 star Arzak on a recent culinary tour of the spectacular Spanish Basque region town of San Sebastian.  In a tiny town full of amazing food, Arzak fell flat.  Wine service for the wine pairing was subpar -- "this is a local wine" was the description time and again for the wines that were poured for each course.  No objection to drinking local, but if I'm at a Michelin starred restaurant and spending more for a meal than I've ever spent before in my life, I expected much better.  Much of the meal was very good, but little stood out and for 3 stars and an extremely high price point, we needed more. 

This is interesting: My strategy at hyper-expensive 3-stars is specifically to request "local wines" because they tend to be less expensive (at Marc Veyrat, for example, I asked for something local, "like Vin de Savoie," (that's code for, 'I'm poor and cheap') because I didn't want to get gouged into buying Bordeaux or Burgundy - I figure I can have the best wines in the world at home, at 1/3 of the cost, so at 3-stars, I drink simply and humbly, and spend the bulk of my money on the cuisine).

Interestingly, I've had exactly two Michelin 3-Star-level *breakfasts* in my life, and this was one of them. Words cannot adequately describe what appeared on our balcony the next morning.

What were people's first-ever 3-Star experience? Mine was (the defunct, and now reborn) Lucas Carton in 1994, helmed by the late Alain Senderens - the first-ever chef to hand back his 3 Michelin Stars. The signature dish was foie gras wrapped in cabbage. I remember during the cheese course (which arrived on a cart the size of a piano), the sommelier blind-tasted me with a red - I guessed Hermitage, it turned out to be St-Joseph (right next to Hermitage, both 100% Syrah), and we were both suitably impressed with my Mad Skillz.

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12 minutes ago, DonRocks said:

This is interesting: My strategy at hyper-expensive 3-stars is specifically to request "local wines" because they tend to be less expensive (at Marc Veyrat, for example, I asked for something local, "like Vin de Savoie," (that's code for, 'I'm poor and cheap') because I didn't want to get gouged into buying Bordeaux or Burgundy - I figure I can have the best wines in the world at home, at 1/3 of the cost, so at 3-stars, I drink simply and humbly, and spend the bulk of my money on the cuisine).

Interestingly, I've had exactly two Michelin 3-Star-level *breakfasts* in my life, and this was one of them. Words cannot adequately describe what appeared on our balcony the next morning.

What were people's first-ever 3-Star experience? Mine was (the defunct, and now reborn) Lucas Carton, by the late Alain Senderens, in 1994. The signature dish was foie gras wrapped in cabbage. I remember during the cheese course (which arrived on a cart the size of a piano), the sommelier blind-tasted me with a red - I guessed Hermitage, it turned out to be St-Joseph (right next to Hermitage, both 100% Syrah), and we were both suitably impressed with my Mad Skillz.

I should have been more clear -- that the wines were local wines was very much to my satisfaction and the price point for the pairing was not at all bad.  But, for me, pairings are fun for two reasons.  First, you get something that goes well with what you're eating (that happened) and second, you usually learn a bit about what your drinking (that did not happen here).  In that we were drinking local wines, I was hoping to learn something about them -- where exactly they were from, whether they were typical, why they were proud to be serving them here and, perhaps where I could buy some of them.  Alas, I learned nothing more than that each new glass was also local.  Perhaps, our fault for not speaking the local language, but again, we were disappointed that the service component of the wine pairing was lacking. 

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2 minutes ago, youngfood said:

I should have been more clear -- that the wines were local wines was very much to my satisfaction and the price point for the pairing was not at all bad.  But, for me, pairings are fun for two reasons.  First, you get something that goes well with what you're eating (that happened) and second, you usually learn a bit about what your drinking (that did not happen here).  In that we were drinking local wines, I was hoping to learn something about them -- where exactly they were from, whether they were typical, why they were proud to be serving them here and, perhaps where I could buy some of them.  Alas, I learned nothing more than that each new glass was also local.  Perhaps, our fault for not speaking the local language, but again, we were disappointed that the service component of the wine pairing was lacking. 

Got it, and makes perfect sense. At Arzak, the sommelier should have been fluent in English (I wouldn't normally assume that, but in this situation, where you're at one of the most famous restaurants in the world, and paying a fortune, yes). Did you see their business card?

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8 hours ago, DonRocks said:

What were people's first-ever 3-Star experience? Mine was (the defunct, and now reborn) Lucas Carton in 1994, helmed by the late Alain Senderens - the first-ever chef to hand back his 3 Michelin Stars. The signature dish was foie gras wrapped in cabbage. I remember during the cheese course (which arrived on a cart the size of a piano), the sommelier blind-tasted me with a red - I guessed Hermitage, it turned out to be St-Joseph (right next to Hermitage, both 100% Syrah), and we were both suitably impressed with my Mad Skillz.

Le Pre Catelan in Paris. Wonderful meal, although my memory of everything is quite faded despite it only being six years ago. 

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Mine was Le Bristol in Paris under Chef Eric Frechon. I've been 4 times. The second time, the maître d' and sommelier remembered me despite 2 years having passed. I was floored. My last visit with a friend in Paris was a blow-out dinner. The appetizers (entrées in French) started at 80€, same as the mains. For a middle course we ordered the Poulet de Bresse en Vessie- Bresse chicken cooked in a pigs bladder- for 300€, mainly because I wanted to taste what a $400 chicken taste like. Impeccable service and beautiful room are part of the magic. The food was flawless. With wine it was very expensive but very satisfying. I'm sure I'll return at some point. The restaurant moves  outdoors to the hotel's courtyard in the summer months. 

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1 hour ago, Mark Slater said:

Mine was Le Bristol in Paris under Chef Eric Frechon. I've been 4 times. The second time, the maître d' and sommelier remembered me despite 2 years having passed. I was floored. My last visit with a friend in Paris was a blow-out dinner. The appetizers (entrées in French) started at 80€, same as the mains. For a middle course we ordered the Poulet de Bresse en Vessie- Bresse chicken cooked in a pigs bladder- for 300€, mainly because I wanted to taste what a $400 chicken taste like. Impeccable service and beautiful room are part of the magic. The food was flawless. With wine it was very expensive but very satisfying. I'm sure I'll return at some point. The restaurant moves  outdoors to the hotel's courtyard in the summer months. 

So what *did* a $400 chicken taste like? More importantly, how was it?

Bernard Loiseau's was only $267. 

I can't remember which restaurant it was, but I had a friend who ordered an entire chicken for some obscene amount at some French 3-star restaurant, and underneath the skin was *an entire Perigord truffle* !

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4 minutes ago, DonRocks said:

So what *did* a $400 chicken taste like? More importantly, how was it?

Bernard Loiseau's was only $267. 

I can't remember which restaurant it was, but I had a friend who ordered an entire chicken for some obscene amount at some French 3-star restaurant, and underneath the skin was *an entire Perigord truffle* !

The chicken was very good, served in 2 services, it overpowered the Viognier we has chosen for it so we moved on to the Charlopin Gevrey Chambertin, which was a  much better match. The breast meat required a steak knife because it was so firm. It was removed from the bladder at table, the leg course brought back from the kitchen at right moment. Dessert was a 1945 Pedro Ximenez that was out of this world. After dinner we walked to the bar at Le Crillon. This was during my rum and coke phase. I was offer a 1929 rhum J.M. for "only" 500€, I explained that since I wanted rum and coke, that was probably excessive. 

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First 3* experience was at Girardet in Crissier in 1986! Details are a bit fuzzy but it was likely the best dining experience we have had.

My Arzak experience last year was fun-  the lunch was more of a show and production than a great dining experience and there were definitely some "misses" in the multicourse meal.

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On 11/5/2018 at 12:49 PM, youngfood said:

Ok, I'll start.  We visited 3 star Arzak on a recent culinary tour of the spectacular Spanish Basque region town of San Sebastian.  In a tiny town full of amazing food, Arzak fell flat.  Wine service for the wine pairing was subpar -- "this is a local wine" was the description time and again for the wines that were poured for each course.  No objection to drinking local, but if I'm at a Michelin starred restaurant and spending more for a meal than I've ever spent before in my life, I expected much better.  Much of the meal was very good, but little stood out and for 3 stars and an extremely high price point, we needed more. 

By contrast, nearby 1 star Extebarri absolutely blew us away and Barcelona's 2 star Disfrutar seems to me to be a serious contender for the unofficial successor to the shuttered El Bulli

Ahhh... another person who didn't love Arzak! We were underwhelmed by the food but overjoyed by their extensive and ludicrously priced wine cellar. Their sommelier was a total asshole to us. He made one suggestion for a bottle of cava that was laughable and was almost offended by our very knowledgeable questions. He didn't want to discuss wine with us at all. We ended up texting photos of the list to a Spanish wine expert friend  to help us with selections.  It took an hour but we ended up with two amazing bottles of older Spanish reds and a white Bordeaux that were far more memorable than the meal. Elena Arzak actually sat with us and had a glass of the white, something I assume she doesn't do often unless the bottle is worth her time. She is a lovely person. We are planning to go back to San Sebastian this spring and plan to skip the food at Arzak and just order a couple bottles in their bar.

Extebarri is always a crowed please and I think they punch far above their weight relative to their Michelin status. Their top ranking by Worlds 50 Best is one that is truly well deserved, unlike some others.

We were at Disfrutar in April 2015 only a few months after they opened and already clearly on their way to world class status. There are many comparisons that we drew to our meal at El Bulli in 2009. But I think that the big difference was that El Bulli was inventing these techniques that others have now evolved and there was something more cutting edge about what they were doing. Tickets is probably more technically similar to El Bulli, but that makes sense given who the chef is.

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Our first Michelin 3 star was Azurmendi.  It is a cool concept and you got a lot of presentation and courses for your money, but I was just okay with most of the courses.  The Paris shootings happened just as we completed our courses, so the staff was just nowhere to be found for nearly an hour (after an already long meal we were tired and very ready to head back to our Airbnb).  We were utterly confused and annoyed by this service lapse after getting pretty good if cool service before.  It's a little more forgiveable after we learned what happened the next day.

Azurmendi didn't leave to much of an impression on me because the food didn't wow or anger me.  Much stronger very positive impressions were formed during the next few days for Extebarri (1 star) and Martin Berasategui (3 star), both being in my top best 5 meals ever.  And I will hate Akelarre (3 star) forever for being terrible for service AND food (+1 mentioned that I got great value out of Akelarre because I now have an anchor for restaurant related hate and disappointment). 

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