Now that we have our hot-off-the-presses Los Angeles Michelin Guide, some thoughts.
(1) First, the positive: If we were to compare, we like the Michelin guide better than Zagat for its readability and its lack of annoying quotes. But the blurbs are way too positive across the board, even for places that don't deserve it. Perhaps it's freshman enthusiasm. And for a guide that claims it's all about the food, very little space is dedicated to it.
(2) We agree with most of the stars, but we don't think a few are worthy of a star, several we think are missing, and, no, it's not heavy on ethnic restaurants. But we won't harp on that. More important: The flat out mistakes. Chef Warren Schwartz is listed as the chef at Wilshire in Santa Monica; it is and always has been Christopher Blobaum. Schwartz, of course, is the chef of Whist, which is listed on the same page as Wilshire.
(2) It's not as French leaning as we expected, but it's definitely skewed: Where are the women chefs? Not one was starred, and LA has some top female chefs. After a little inspection: At least a few in San Francisco and New York, only four women have been awarded three stars in France since the guide was founded in 1926, and only five have the distinction in the world. But in LA, not one female received even one star.
(3) Being a Michelin starred chef obviously means a lot to the chefs, but it's difficult to gauge how everyone else feels about the guide. It's a handy travel companion, sure; the details are concise, it's designed well, there are a lot of restaurants listed, even some we forgot about or haven't been to yet. But it doesn't have the weight it has in Europe, at least not yet. Don't get us wrong: We're happy to have our copy. It's going in the car (great maps). But to take it too seriously? Kind of difficult for its inaugural year.
(5) A quick note about Vegas: Ok, we see how Joel Robuchon deserves its three Michelin stars. He's a world-renown chef, even if he doesn't spend all his time at the MGM Grand kitchen. There are some restaurants we think Michelin missed (Bartolotta at the Wynn, Bouchon at the Venetian). And like LA, there are a few we question (Mesa Grill). For the haters: Vegas restaurants shouldn't be discounted because of the spectacle. There really is some fantastic dining on and off the Strip, worthy a trip all its own. Criticize only after you visit.
· Breaking: Michelin Stars are OUT [~ELA~]
· Hangover Observations: Michelin LA Launch Party [~ELA~]