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Camille-Beau

The Michelin Guide

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The New Yorker had any interesting opportunity to eat with and interview a Michelin inspector in New York City.

We had dinner two weeks ago at the three Michelin star Joel Robuchon in Las Vegas. My only comment is that three Michelin stars in Las Vegas and three Michelin stars in Italy/France/Spain/Germany/etc. are two entirely different experiences. I have wondered how many of the Michelin "inspectors" in the U. S. have had the fortunate experience to dine in Michelin starred restaurants in Europe to fully understand what is necessary for a fair comparison? Robuchon tried, it really tried. But it fell short. Having been to Robuchon in Paris in the mid '90's there was nothing in common between the two experiences. There was a sincere attempt in Vegas but it still came up short.

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We had dinner two weeks ago at the three Michelin star Joel Robuchon in Las Vegas. My only comment is that three Michelin stars in Las Vegas and three Michelin stars in Italy/France/Spain/Germany/etc. are two entirely different experiences. I have wondered how many of the Michelin "inspectors" in the U. S. have had the fortunate experience to dine in Michelin starred restaurants in Europe to fully understand what is necessary for a fair comparison? Robuchon tried, it really tried. But it fell short. Having been to Robuchon in Paris in the mid '90's there was nothing in common between the two experiences. There was a sincere attempt in Vegas but it still came up short.

I haven't been to Robuchon in Vega$, so I can't really comment on that. I have been to Michelin three stars in Europe and the US. I don't feel its as much of a difference between European Michelin 3* and the 3* from other countries judging all in 2009. I think there is more to say about Michelin 3* in the 90's and the Michelin 3* of today.

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We had dinner two weeks ago at the three Michelin star Joel Robuchon in Las Vegas. My only comment is that three Michelin stars in Las Vegas and three Michelin stars in Italy/France/Spain/Germany/etc. are two entirely different experiences. I have wondered how many of the Michelin "inspectors" in the U. S. have had the fortunate experience to dine in Michelin starred restaurants in Europe to fully understand what is necessary for a fair comparison? Robuchon tried, it really tried. But it fell short. Having been to Robuchon in Paris in the mid '90's there was nothing in common between the two experiences. There was a sincere attempt in Vegas but it still came up short.

This is very much the opposite of the way your earlier statements about that meal read. I thought I remember you saying that several of the dishes were exactly the same quality.

I have only eaten in 3 European (El Bulli, Arzak, Fat Duck) & 2 American (Per Se, Jean Georges) 3 stars and the my meals in the European ones were miles better.

The list in NY is pretty strange below the three star level, of the 20 or so one or two star places I've eaten in I think that at least half of them are overrated, and I've had meals at one stars in Europe that were better than any of them.

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This is very much the opposite of the way your earlier statements about that meal read. I thought I remember you saying that several of the dishes were exactly the same quality.

I have only eaten in 3 European (El Bulli, Arzak, Fat Duck) & 2 American (Per Se, Jean Georges) 3 stars and the my meals in the European ones were miles better.

The list in NY is pretty strange below the three star level, of the 20 or so one or two star places I've eaten in I think that at least half of them are overrated, and I've had meals at one stars in Europe that were better than any of them.

This is a post of mine that ended up on the "Southwest" board of Chowhound:

But the dinner of the trip was at the three Michelin star Joel Robuchon in the MGM Grand. I was at Robuchon in Paris in the '90's before he first "retired." This is not as good. Still, it is a remarkable effort that is unlike anything in the D. C. area for its style. There were individual carts for: bread, butter, cheese, dessert and petit fours. A cart was wheeled by for each. The butter cart was extraordinary: a server pushed it over and on top stood a tree trunk sized slab of butter almost a foot high and six to eight inches thick. The server bent over and scaled the side of it, slicing off a thick curl that he placed on each of our plates. Following this he sprinkled fleur de lys on top. All of this to compliment one or two of the 20+ different breads and rolls that another cart featured.

There were two Great dishes including possibly the single best dish I have tasted in years anywhere: "braised veal cheeks with Thai broth and vegetable couscous with broccoli" along with an intense, rich, delicate "chestnut velouté with foie gras and smoked lardons foam." We deeply wafted the rich broth of the veal cheeks, almost sucking them into our nostrils as no other food I've found in years. Layers and layers of flavor: all four of us, all sophisticated at this level almost overwhelmed at the extraordinarily complex being pulled off so well. I've not had a meat dish in the D. C. area-or Europe for that matter that was better than this. Perhaps none that was as good. Anywhere.

Still, there was weakness at Robuchon. For myself and several others at the table we didn't think it merited three stars. Despite the two incredible dishes and the showstopping presentation of the butter it was not on the level I found in Paris in the mid '90's. But it tried.

The value judgment that I am making is that the three stars I've been to in Europe in the past several years have not had a "weak" course; all have been exemplery. Robuchon has at least two "Great Dishes" and several carts that were real showstoppers. But the overall experience felt a little bit short of, say, Germany's Schwarzwaldstube, Italy's Le Calandre, Dal Pescatore, etc. and several in France which we have been fortunate to experience in the past several years.

Mtpleasanteater, the comment about a three star today vs. the '90's is a really interesting one. It's hard not to wonder if some of this hasn't been "diluted." Robuchon fifteen years ago was a dinner of a lifetime without a step less than perfection. Vegas had moments of real brillance but the overall experience didn't approach the original. I have not been to Per Se but I have been to the French Laundry, twice. I don't believe this approaches any of the three stars that I have been to in Europe over the years. Some of the food does, yes. But the overall style is far short. A related question might be: "is Alain Ducasse in the U. S. as good as Alain Ducasse in Paris or Monte Carlo?"

I continue to believe that what Fabio did at Maestro before he left was at least a two Michelin star experience, short of only one or two staff from an European three star. I still believe this was the closest I've experienced for what was on the plate to what I've found in Europe. Factor in Vincent and true professional waitstaff and this is the benchmark for years to come for the D. C. area. I honestly believe that, "plate to plate" Fabio's Maestro was the equal of the three Michein star Le Calandre which I have been fortunate to visit four times. The only difference between the two might have been waitstaff to pick up a napkin that fell on the floor or a "bench" for a purse but otherwise Maesto was its equal. Pergola, Pinchiorri and Dal Pescatore, too.

...on reflection, considering Maestro's last several months: this really was a three Michelin star restaurant. It was actually BETTER than several three stars I've been to in Europe. At an absolute minimum, the equal of several others.

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I was reacting to your posts here. Saying that Robuchon in the 90's was this good etc.

"I've not had a meat dish in the D. C. area-or Europe for that matter that was better than this. Perhaps none that was as good. Anywhere"

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This is a post of mine that ended up on the "Southwest" board of Chowhound:

The value judgment that I am making is that the three stars I've been to in Europe in the past several years have not had a "weak" course; all have been exemplery. Robuchon has at least two "Great Dishes" and several carts that were real showstoppers. But the overall experience felt a little bit short of, say, Germany's Schwarzwaldstube, Italy's Le Calandre, Dal Pescatore, etc. and several in France which we have been fortunate to experience in the past several years.

Mtpleasanteater, the comment about a three star today vs. the '90's is a really interesting one. It's hard not to wonder if some of this hasn't been "diluted." Robuchon fifteen years ago was a dinner of a lifetime without a step less than perfection. Vegas had moments of real brillance but the overall experience didn't approach the original. I have not been to Per Se but I have been to the French Laundry, twice. I don't believe this approaches any of the three stars that I have been to in Europe over the years. Some of the food does, yes. But the overall style is far short. A related question might be: "is Alain Ducasse in the U. S. as good as Alain Ducasse in Paris or Monte Carlo?"

I continue to believe that what Fabio did at Maestro before he left was at least a two Michelin star experience, short of only one or two staff from an European three star. I still believe this was the closest I've experienced for what was on the plate to what I've found in Europe. Factor in Vincent and true professional waitstaff and this is the benchmark for years to come for the D. C. area. I honestly believe that, "plate to plate" Fabio's Maestro was the equal of the three Michein star Le Calandre which I have been fortunate to visit four times. The only difference between the two might have been waitstaff to pick up a napkin that fell on the floor or a "bench" for a purse but otherwise Maesto was its equal. Pergola, Pinchiorri and Dal Pescatore, too.

...on reflection, considering Maestro's last several months: this really was a three Michelin star restaurant. It was actually BETTER than several three stars I've been to in Europe. At an absolute minimum, the equal of several others.

Alas, taste is of course subjective, as of course appreciation of a certain style would be as well. Everyone will have their personal favorite restaurants, and someone else will have a disappointing meal at said favorite restaurant. I could run down the list of disappointing meals I've had in Europe, and list all of the great meals I've had at restaurants in Europe and the US, but I don't think thats really very interesting because alas its just my opinion/experience. I guess what I was driving at earlier was that I don't think you can make a blanket statement that the 3*'s of Europe have a different standard than the 3*'s elsewhere in the world. The world is changing, the internet is becoming more influential. Does Michelin have to change with the times, do they need to change with the times, have they changed with the times. Is there a different expectation eating at a Michelin 3* restaurant in the 90's as opposed to today?

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Alas, taste is of course subjective, as of course appreciation of a certain style would be as well. Everyone will have their personal favorite restaurants, and someone else will have a disappointing meal at said favorite restaurant. I could run down the list of disappointing meals I've had in Europe, and list all of the great meals I've had at restaurants in Europe and the US, but I don't think thats really very interesting because alas its just my opinion/experience. I guess what I was driving at earlier was that I don't think you can make a blanket statement that the 3*'s of Europe have a different standard than the 3*'s elsewhere in the world. The world is changing, the internet is becoming more influential. Does Michelin have to change with the times, do they need to change with the times, have they changed with the times. Is there a different expectation eating at a Michelin 3* restaurant in the 90's as opposed to today?

Outside of the luxe factor, in my limited experience, I would say there is a difference between breaking new ground (then) and re-discovering craft (now).

One could also argue the difference between punk rock and "body art" versus Mozart and powdered wigs...

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Outside of the luxe factor, in my limited experience, I would say there is a difference between breaking new ground (then) and re-discovering craft (now).

One could also argue the difference between punk rock and "body art" versus Mozart and powdered wigs...

All of which are valid, if one keeps an open mind about things, no?

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All of which are valid, if one keeps an open mind about things, no?

This is mostly true. However, the type of service, the setting and the ambiance of the 2 and 3 star restaurants that I've visited in France have never been equaled by any nice restaurant in the US that I've dined at, including the Inn at Little Washington, Citronelle, Marcel's or any of the better restaurants in Washington. As an example, the Maitre d', Captain and waiter at Le Bristol in Paris recognized and greeted me on my last visit, which was 2 years after my last visit. The dinner was like magic. Serene, elegant, soothing, every aspect. The systems in Europe are different and can't be replicated here without undue cost. To be fair, it was far more expensive than anything available locally. At the time, it seemed worth it.

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To waitman's point, I think that the NYT ratings carry far more weight than guide michelin right now, foreign tourists excepted.

NYT article today commenting on the rising influence of Michelin in New York.

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And speaking of places that could/should have been a Bib Gourmand...

Based on my experience with Michelin starred restaurants in Europe, there's no clear correlation between quality of food/service and their Michelin rating.  My literal worst restaurant meal of 2015 was at Michelin 3-starred Akelarre.  The food was mediocre at best and barely edible at worst, the service declined precipitously during the meal from average to ridiculously sloppy (arguably second worst service I've ever received, behind Saba in NoVa).  If I was travelling to a city for which there is a Michelin guide, I might consult it as a potential list, but in no way would I consider it authoritative or consistent.

(On the same trip, I had one of my best meals of 2015 at another 3-star, Restaurant Martin Berasategui.  The food was wonderful and the service was exceptionally exemplary.)

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"Michelin Is Too Buttoned-Up To See the Stars of the DC Dining Scene" by Tom Sietsema on washingtonpost.com

Sietsema doesn’t think Michelin can cover DC but he thinks he can rate all the cities in the u.s. based on on one visit.  I have no respect for Sietsema’s opinion at all.  I know he has no clue about Asian cuisines.  To say Minibar is the best avant-garde kitchen is to reveal his ignorance.  

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On 10/17/2017 at 7:56 PM, Ericandblueboy said:

"Michelin Is Too Buttoned-Up To See the Stars of the DC Dining Scene" by Tom Sietsema on washingtonpost.com

Sietsema doesn’t think Michelin can cover DC but he thinks he can rate all the cities in the u.s. based on on one visit.  I have no respect for Sietsema’s opinion at all.  I know he has no clue about Asian cuisines.  To say Minibar is the best avant-garde kitchen is to reveal his ignorance.  

I think it is HILARIOUS that he is taking issue with how Michelin is handling/covering/rating DC restaurants. HILARIOUS.

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Bib Gourmand list for DC is out.  (I'm going to assume that the removal of 2 Amys is just due to its closure at the time of publication, and therefore avoid a rant.)  Some excellent new additions, although the criteria for this list continue to be comically pointless given the proliferation of (not cheap) small plates restaurants where you couldn't really have a full meal under the cost threshold.  

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I’ve never heard of Das, and no one here has tried the Napoli Pasta Bar (and the only reason I know it exists is from perusing Resy or maybe Reserve).

I think it might be fun to check out these restaurants instead of blaming Tom for being the only clueless critic in town.  Now he can share the blame.

Oh, I saw a Facebook post from Sushi Taro that says they recognized Tom but played along like they didn’t know who he was.  

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das is the ethiopian restaurant in georgetown (right over the bridge) that used to be zed's (not sure if there was a change in ownership/kitchen with the name change).  i haven't been in years, but zed's was a favorite . . . probably fifteen or more years ago?  (if i recall correctly, it was the first place that i ever had shrimp at an ethiopian restaurant, which appealed to a pescatarian who sometimes likes variety beyond a veggie combo.)  it is no surprise to me that in a city full of ethiopian restaurants, michelin honed in on the fanciest both in decor and neighborhood!

that is hilarious and totally unsurprising re taro and tom. :) 

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probably a topic for another thread, but I saw that Taro tweet and have seen Tom get defensive in chats in the past about trying to remain anonymous. at this point, it seems like it's mostly an ego thing, his decision to "remain anonymous." seems like most any restaurant in town worth its salt recognizes him and when they don't that's on the restaurant. 

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On 10/17/2017 at 7:56 PM, Ericandblueboy said:

"Michelin Is Too Buttoned-Up To See the Stars of the DC Dining Scene" by Tom Sietsema on washingtonpost.com

Sietsema doesn’t think Michelin can cover DC but he thinks he can rate all the cities in the u.s. based on on one visit.

Michelin is just, plain *awful* at judging DC Dining (and I say this a year after this previous guide was written, and since they've doubled their "Bib Gourmand" section). So, ironically, this article managed to pin the tail on the donkey, despite it being for the exactly wrong reasons. Anyone with half a brain, who doesn't even frequent restaurants, could use the internet to form a list equal, or superior to, what Michelin managed to produce for their 2018 Bib Gourmand restaurants.

Restaurant critics are afraid to come out and say that most people have terrible taste in dining (or wine), but it's true, even though such a statement will extract the trolls from the woodwork, and get you labeled an "elitist" and a "snob." (Those same armchair critics who label you as such will, of course, defend to their death the net benefits of glyphosate, the recoil of a Kel-Tec PMR-30 .22 Mag, or the intractable benefits of coal gasification, and the morons who haven't done their due diligence aren't entitled to say a whole hell of a lot about any of the above).

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Totally agree with you Don. I don't think I have very great taste in food or wine (compared to those on this board) but I do know that when other people pick the restaurant, it basically sucks. I have not, however, figured out how to dissuade people from bringing me to Founding Farmers and its ilk. Basically, on the DR scale, I"m in the lower 10% but IRL I'm like in the 70s. Maybe even 80s.

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11 hours ago, NolaCaine said:

Basically, on the DR scale, I"m in the lower 10%

I respectfully disagree (plus, even though there isn't any type of "group think" here, we're still a single, merry band of debauchery).

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On 9/8/2018 at 4:10 PM, NolaCaine said:

Totally agree with you Don. I don't think I have very great taste in food or wine (compared to those on this board) but I do know that when other people pick the restaurant, it basically sucks. I have not, however, figured out how to dissuade people from bringing me to Founding Farmers and its ilk. Basically, on the DR scale, I"m in the lower 10% but IRL I'm like in the 70s. Maybe even 80s.

Training for getting better at recognizing seriously good food and drink is in some ways easy (go drink and eat more in places you have not tried, regularly and a lot) and in some ways difficult (where to eat, what to eat, what to try, what to learn, when to dine, when to cook, when to bake,AAAAAAAH!). But the internet in general helps. Cookbooks help. But this board helps enormously. And your own palate. Trust it. Prime it. Test it. CHALLENGE IT.

I was a hater of tomatoes until I was maybe....30, maybe a little sooner. But, in reality, my tastes evolved. My access to amazing product be it raw or out dining, surpassed all possible experiences with it. Just because you think you 'hate' all of such and such (say, broccoli), probably means that you have not had a preparation you like and are enthralled by. I encourage everyone to keep trying. You never know when you have evolved, You never know when the world has evolved to meet your palate. When those two things meet, it can be a beatiful wonderful thing.

And do not get me started about my wine evolution - it it embarrassing. Haha!

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12 hours ago, Pool Boy said:

Training for getting better at recognizing seriously good food and drink is in some ways easy (go drink and eat more in places you have not tried, regularly and a lot) and in some ways difficult (where to eat, what to eat, what to try, what to learn, when to dine, when to cook, when to bake,AAAAAAAH!). But the internet in general helps. Cookbooks help. But this board helps enormously. And your own palate. Trust it. Prime it. Test it. CHALLENGE IT.

Here's a little teaser:

In about two weeks, everyone here will have the opportunity to learn - really learn - more about the fine-dining end of the spectrum, than they've ever had a chance to learn about before.

It will be fun and interesting.

It will only take up as much time as you want to invest.

And, as always, it will be free.

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