The 2012 Michelin Red Guide to New York City arrives on bookshelves today.
Advance word of the results began circulating late yesterday (as usual, this operation has more leaks than a pasta strainer). The big news is that two new restaurants have gained the ultimate accolade of three stars. Eleven Madison Park, under the direction of Executive Chef David Humm, leapfrogged directly from one star to the top—however, the promotion came after years of grumbling among fans and “knowledgable” people in the Manhattan culinary world, and is generally considered to be overdue.
The second three-star elevation was more unusual. Brooklyn Fare, on Schermerhorn Street, began as a neighborhood market with the goal of functioning as “a centerpiece of the Brooklyn community.” Their restaurant, called Chef’s Table, earned two stars in last year’s guide. It consists of a kitchen counter with 18 seats, serving a prix fixe dinner of 20 small plate courses created by Chef Cesar Ramirez. Chef’s Table at Brooklyn Fare is BYOB; they take reservations on Monday mornings at 10:30 for the entire week, six weeks out—a bridge-and-tunnel version of Momofuku Ko.
There were a few other noteworthy promotions and demotions. SHO, the restaurant by Chef Shaun Hergatt which is bringing new life to Wall Street (“one of Manhattan’s last uncharted restaurant frontiers”), went from one star to two, as did L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon. Picholine, Chef Terrance Brennan’s long-time bastion of haute cuisine, went in the other direction (from two stars to one).
As always, insiders will be looking for clues as to what this all “means.” If any generalizations are possible, it seems that Michelin is continuing their trend of inclusiveness, seeking to reward restaurants solely on the basis of food rather than ambiance, wine list or service (some of the worst service in the city is reputed to be found at Momofuku Ko). They also have a new fondness for restaurants with counters—witness the fact that Tokyo now has more stars than Paris. While there are plenty of inexpensive restaurants, or Bib Gourmand, in the Guide, the prices at the top establishments remain staggering. Price is seemingly no object, but apparently we all feel a bit better about it when we belly up to the bar.