Seeing Red

We’re sure there are many, many particle physicists blogging furiously over yesterday’s Nobel Prize announcements. Being mere food-obsessed mortals, however, we’re tuning in to the big buzz in San Francisco, where Michelin’s first restaurant guide to the Bay Area was revealed on Monday.

As if getting a reservation at the French Laundry needed to become more difficult, Thomas Keller’s Wine Country restaurant was the only place to earn those coveted three stars—no surprise, especially given the restaurant’s very Gallic and impeccable service and style. (Per Se, Keller’s restaurant in NYC, also earned three stars in last year’s New York Michelin guide). Otherwise, though, we’d agree with San Francisco Chronicle restaurant critic Michael Bauer that the Euros just didn’t get it. (Could be Bauer’s just feeling persnickety that many of his four-star picks were demoted to one star or less.)

In a town rife with global flavors, Michelin’s European-trained inspectors gave stars almost exclusively to French and French-influenced spots, giving one star apiece to exactly two Japanese places and one high-end Northern Italian. But even some French chefs are bumming, like Fleur de Lys’s Hubert Keller and Roland Passot of La Folie, who saw their polished, Frette-linen-and-Riedel-crystal destinations dumped into a bizarrely mixed one-star category alongside popular but casual storefront eateries like Quince and Range.

Writes Ciaogina on Chowhound, “How did Range get into the mix? It’s like someone said oh yes go here it’s hip or something … it’s just inconsistent.” Over at San Francisco Gourmet, many of the picks are dubbed “completely inexplicable, wholly unjustified and/or plainly wrong,” while Joy at Confessions of a Restaurant Whore gives Range its props but wonders, “Why then no Delfina? Why no Zuni? And how do you put Range and the Dining Room at the Ritz Carlton in the same category? The Ritz should have two at least, in my opinion. They are making some bad ass yums over there. ... I can’t help but feel like Michelin really screwed the pooch here.”