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Michelin NYC 2009 Rankings


Adrian3891
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A fair point on the surface of things.  But I think I was a bit incomplete in expressing exactly what I meant, as it was stated ages ago in last year's Michelin thread.  It often seems like they intentionally pick a few "surprise" or "obscure" places (just as they did with Spotted Pig the first year and Dressler in the last survey) to give the (I believe false) impression of really having their fingers on the city's pulse and having been to more restaurants than they have.  However, when you look at things overall, the reality seems to be that they are really late to update many of their reviews.  And many of their choices (and some of the information contained in the prose of the book) below the 2 star level make it clear they haven't been to some of the places in ages.  If I were cynical and skeptical, I would say they ask around what some of their friends favorite under the radar places are, and just visit enough of them to have a few of these "insider" places on the star listings.

I'll go a step further; the inclusion of Kyo Ya when there are plenty of other restaurants in that league excluded makes me suspect that not only are they asking friends, but they're trolling Chowhound, where Kyo Ya has received pretty universally warm reviews. And maybe that discovery on Chowhound is followed up with an actual in-person visit, but I doubt they visited any of it's peers which were not included. I haven't been there yet but the people who have seem easily impressed. That said, to see Kyo Ya, Gari and Jewel Bako at 1 star, and not a single of the Totto and Aburiya group included up there, proves to me that these people are talking through their boxer shorts, at least when it comes to Japanese.

Edited by raji (log)
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There is absolutely no way to justify leaving Jewel Bako in the 1* category, and to leave out places like Yasuda, Soto, 15 East, etc.
I happen to agree with you about Yasuda and Soto. But I would venture a guess that if anybody made a similar list with 42 restaurants on it (that's the number of places with stars this year), there'd be a number of them that some people take issue with. It's funny to read the Eater thread, where various people opine on which missing or included restaurants invalidate the list. For Mimi Sheraton, it's La Grenouille. For another, it's Union Square Café; still another says Chanterelle.

Sorry to reply in two blocks, but my facility with the site is obviously lacking, since I still don't know how to break things up like you just did!:)

The point here is not that there are subjective forces at work. I specifically chose sushi because there are so many objective factors you can use to judge quality, that aren't present in many other types of cuisine. Further, I used the example of Jewel Bako and 15 East because there is a direct relationship. Jewel Bako was only worthy of any interest at all while the sushi bar was manned by Masato Shimizu. He left three years ago, and has been at 15 East for quite some time. Jewel Bako's subsequent decline is both marked, and easily verifiable in objective terms. Meanwhile, 15 East has been getting a better version of what Masato-san used to do at Jewel Bako. So clearly, even if they had a clue and liked Jewel Bako back when it was serviceable, they would like 15 East even better. But signs point to their not having visited either in the last two years. Further, Jewel Bako hasn't even made an effort to replace Shimizu with an itamae of equal caliber, preferring instead to employ various journeymen, assistants and the like. A proper reviewer would certainly know this.

So what I'm getting at is that I understand that we can argue till the cows come home about the relative merits of EMP (I happen to agree that it should be starred), The Modern and dozens of other inclusions and omissions on a subjective level. But the examples I chose allow a slightly greater degree of objectivity to be applied to their work. My conclusion is that I don't believe subjectivity is the only factor at work in the Michelin Survey. I happen to think they do a much better than average job at the high end (even with EMP omitted), but I still have NO reason to believe that they really visit places as comprehensively or often (or recently) as they claim in the one star and no star categories. I still maintain that there is hugely sloppy journalism going on in large part at the sub-two star level.

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screw the conspiracy theories.

Michelin has something like five full-time inspectors in New York. at 10 meals a week per person, that's 2,500 possible restaurants to visit. allowing for multiple person and repeat visits to the starred restaurants and you still have them easily covering 1,500 restaurants.

as with almost everything in life, the real explanation is much simpler. they have different tastes and emphases than many foodies. it's really that simple; even if you find it hard to believe.

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Baffled that Eleven Madison Park misses the cut again.

[

I am not at all surprised with how michelin rates EMP: my meal there last year was one of the worst dining experiences I have had in New York in the last 10 years.

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sad for kurumazushi but i have a feeling the old man doesn't care. i had the best service there, for me at least, better than per se, daniel, and even EMP with my girlfriend working there. And I'm not Japanese so there's no reason to treat me extra nice.

In my personal opinion Chef Humm is a great chef and deserves One Michelin Star, but there are too many things going on at that restaurant for him to get one. The places needs to be shook up and cleaned.

I've never been to Ko, only Noodlebar. I went there four times and only once had a good meal. The other times it sucked and I wasn't alone. Weird huh? Some people love EMP and some say they had horrible experiences there.

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If you have a bad experience at EMP, it's your fault.

IMO!

I think it is the restaurants fault. When the service is terrible, the experience is bad. My meal at EMP was marked by some of the worst service I have ever had in any fine dining restaurant in new york or Paris.

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screw the conspiracy theories.

Michelin has something like five full-time inspectors in New York.  at 10 meals a week per person, that's 2,500 possible restaurants to visit.  allowing for multiple person and repeat visits to the starred restaurants and you still have them easily covering 1,500 restaurants.

as with almost everything in life, the real explanation is much simpler.  they have different tastes and emphases than many foodies.  it's really that simple; even if you find it hard to believe.

I totally agree with Nathan. There are a few of Michelin's ratings I disagree with, but there are a few of everybody's ratings I disagree with. It's not possible to come up with 42 places that all foodies will believe are correct. But when I disagree with Nathan, for instance (and as he knows, this happens rather often), I don't doubt that he has actually visited the places he writes about.
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screw the conspiracy theories.

Michelin has something like five full-time inspectors in New York.  at 10 meals a week per person, that's 2,500 possible restaurants to visit.  allowing for multiple person and repeat visits to the starred restaurants and you still have them easily covering 1,500 restaurants.

as with almost everything in life, the real explanation is much simpler.  they have different tastes and emphases than many foodies.  it's really that simple; even if you find it hard to believe.

For the record, I wasn't suggesting anything like a conspiracy theory. Rather, I was suggesting that it's impossible for them to thoroughly visit all the restaurants that they claim to with the frequency that they claim is used for their reviews, so they simply aren't doing it. As a result, some of their reviews at the lower star levels are based on very old or less complete data. Kind of like writing a book report based on the Cliff Notes instead of actually reading the entire book.

And by the way, they aren't eating at nearly the numbers you suggest. The average restaurant reviewer eats far fewer "work" meals than that, and apparently not all of their reviewers are full time.

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If you have a bad experience at EMP, it's your fault.

IMO!

I think it is the restaurants fault. When the service is terrible, the experience is bad. My meal at EMP was marked by some of the worst service I have ever had in any fine dining restaurant in new york or Paris.

Yeah that was my attempt at a joke. The service has been pretty amazing everytime I've been there, and I just don't hear of many bad Danny Meyers experiences. Service is his thing.

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For the record, I wasn't suggesting anything like a conspiracy theory.  Rather, I was suggesting that it's impossible for them to thoroughly visit all the restaurants that they claim to with the frequency that they claim is used for their reviews, so they simply aren't doing it.  As a result, some of their reviews at the lower star levels are based on very old or less complete data.  Kind of like writing a book report based on the Cliff Notes instead of actually reading the entire book.
Well...yeah, it seems you are suggesting a conspiracy—that is, to claim one thing while doing another. By the way, where exactly have they published the "claim" that you are now saying is fabricated?
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For the record, I wasn't suggesting anything like a conspiracy theory.  Rather, I was suggesting that it's impossible for them to thoroughly visit all the restaurants that they claim to with the frequency that they claim is used for their reviews, so they simply aren't doing it.  As a result, some of their reviews at the lower star levels are based on very old or less complete data.  Kind of like writing a book report based on the Cliff Notes instead of actually reading the entire book.
Well...yeah, it seems you are suggesting a conspiracy—that is, to claim one thing while doing another. By the way, where exactly have they published the "claim" that you are now saying is fabricated?

The claim is certainly implicit in the very existence of a new guide each year: that they actually visit the restaurants each year to confirm their assessments. Further, this from their website:

<<If our inspectors are impressed by a restaurant or hotel, they visit the establishment again. And again. It is this sort of obsessive research that makes the Michelin Guide such a reliable source of recommendations. >>

Clearly, this hasn't happened with some of the restaurants on their list, though I do fully believe it in the case of those ranked 2 stars and up.

I think we can take it as read that they are "impressed" with any establishment they choose to award a star to. Yet they clearly haven't visited some of the places again and again. It's not a matter of subjectivity...it's clear they haven't been there.

Just saying one thing and doing another isn't a conspiracy. The difference between what they are doing and a "conspiracy" is that using the term "conspiracy theory" suggests that they are intentionally and willfully deceiving people for some ulterior motive. By contrast, I think they fully intend to be accurate, but simply don't have the manpower or ability to be totally thorough. After all, Zagat uses the entire general population as potential reviewers and still doesn't get to everyone. Michelin's food expertise is why they tend to be better than Zagat with the places they DO go to, but they have much less depth in terms of multiple visits to the lesser places.

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Bullcrap. For non-starred restaurants they claim one visit by one inspector a year. I believe them.

screw the conspiracy theories.

Michelin has something like five full-time inspectors in New York.  at 10 meals a week per person, that's 2,500 possible restaurants to visit.  allowing for multiple person and repeat visits to the starred restaurants and you still have them easily covering 1,500 restaurants.

as with almost everything in life, the real explanation is much simpler.  they have different tastes and emphases than many foodies.  it's really that simple; even if you find it hard to believe.

For the record, I wasn't suggesting anything like a conspiracy theory. Rather, I was suggesting that it's impossible for them to thoroughly visit all the restaurants that they claim to with the frequency that they claim is used for their reviews, so they simply aren't doing it. As a result, some of their reviews at the lower star levels are based on very old or less complete data. Kind of like writing a book report based on the Cliff Notes instead of actually reading the entire book.

And by the way, they aren't eating at nearly the numbers you suggest. The average restaurant reviewer eats far fewer "work" meals than that, and apparently not all of their reviewers are full time.

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Here's another way of looking at it. On any list of 42 restaurants, I would expect about 20% disagreement simply because restaurant ratings aren't an exact science. That means there'd need to be more than about 8 clear errors before I would begin to suspect something afoot more than just normal difference of opinion between competent specialists.

Well: on the current star list, there are only two places that lots of people say don't belong: Jewel Bako and Public. And I can only think of two places that lots of people feel are wrongly excluded: Eleven Madison Park and Sushi Yasuda. So the error rate (if we call those errors) is only about 25% of what it would need to be, before I would begin to worry about serious incompetence.

There are tons more that are arguable, but that's just horse racing. For every foodie who says that the demotion of Babbo was a crime, there's another who says, "Thank goodness they finally got wise about Babbo."

Edited by oakapple (log)
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I think they're completely wrong to demote Babbo and the Public inclusion only makes sense if they're somehow including the Monday Room....and I'll take the word of others that it's insane to include JB, but that still leaves a perfectly defensible list overall.

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Bullcrap. For non-starred restaurants they claim one visit by one inspector a year. I believe them.
screw the conspiracy theories.

Michelin has something like five full-time inspectors in New York.  at 10 meals a week per person, that's 2,500 possible restaurants to visit.  allowing for multiple person and repeat visits to the starred restaurants and you still have them easily covering 1,500 restaurants.

as with almost everything in life, the real explanation is much simpler.  they have different tastes and emphases than many foodies.  it's really that simple; even if you find it hard to believe.

For the record, I wasn't suggesting anything like a conspiracy theory. Rather, I was suggesting that it's impossible for them to thoroughly visit all the restaurants that they claim to with the frequency that they claim is used for their reviews, so they simply aren't doing it. As a result, some of their reviews at the lower star levels are based on very old or less complete data. Kind of like writing a book report based on the Cliff Notes instead of actually reading the entire book.

And by the way, they aren't eating at nearly the numbers you suggest. The average restaurant reviewer eats far fewer "work" meals than that, and apparently not all of their reviewers are full time.

Not sure what bullcrap you're accusing me of. However, there are pretty specific reasons to not believe them about the number of visits in several cases, simply based on information in the prose paragraphs, which in multiple cases is more than two years out of date. And we're not talking about the non-starred restaurants...we're talking about those with one star, which by their own definition are supposed to be visited more than once a year.

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look, you're calling them liars just because they disagree with you about Jewel Bako.

Nope, as I pretty clearly stated, I used the Japanese food category as one strong example of a larger tendency because it is easier to make an objective analysis of it. It is a cuisine based more on differences in ingredient quality and sourcing rather than more subjective measures such as technique, seasoning, etc, so relative quality is much easier to get a consensus on. On purely objective bases, there are at least 10-15 sushi places than ANY serious sushi eater would rate above the level of Jewel Bako now, even though that wasn't true years ago. This is because of the ways they get their ingredients, the level of experience behind the counter, etc. As I suspect Raji (our resident expert on things Japanese) will attest, the choices in the Japanese realm are very confusing unless you look at them in the light of being chosen based on getting a few recommendations from people who eat there more often than the reviewers. (Otherwise it's also hard to explain the inclusion of Gari, which is virtually indistinguishable from Seki, as they both feature the same sources, ingredients, chef training, etc. Similar things can be said for assorted robata and yakitori places. Jewel Bako isn't the problem. It's a symptom.)

There are dozens of things they disagree with me on at the one star level and below, and to some extent that's to be expected, as you and Sneakeater have already eloquently put. And yet, most foodies seem to agree to some extent on the inclusions at the 2 and 3 star levels. Obviously, inclusions are easier to discuss than exclusions. Please note, I'm not suggesting it's a crap list overall. On the contrary: I think it's the best list we have to work with of its kind in NYC...better than Bruni's cumulative opus and far better than Zagat. Still, I wish they would devote more manpower and were as meticulous and thorough throughout as they were at the two and three star levels. I think you'll find that there is information (or lack thereof) in the paragraphs about JoJo, Del Posto and Etats Unis that suggest they may not have been to them very often (in the case of Del Posto) or at all (JoJo and Etats Unis) in the last year. Add those to the list of places already discussed at dubious.

Edited by LPShanet (log)
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1. examples of factual errors that evince non-visits?

2. "It is a cuisine based more on differences in ingredient quality and sourcing rather than more subjective measures such as technique, seasoning, etc, so relative quality is much easier to get a consensus on."

says you.

3. by the way, I haven't read Chowhound in years, but I do know that Kyo Ya has been discussed in various other sources (including the mainstream press) (as well as word of mouth) since it opened.

4. although JB has fallen in the estimation of people here (and I trust their judgment)...it still gets plenty of favorable reviews from some hardcore sushi fans.

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I appreciate the vote of confidence, dude; that said, IMO

Micheline ne comprend pas la cuisine japonaise! But neither does Bruni!!

I don't know if this is a Franco-centric guide, should we expect it to be? But the Japanese influence is an affront to more traditional French. Does this have anything to do with it

I don't think there's any denying that the Japanese influence is THE story of the past, oh, 10 years. From Mr. Jean-Georges who draws on it constantly, to Momo* which simply depends on innovation from the Japanese side as much as it depends on inspiration from the Union Square greenmarket.. it's the new French.

The Japanese coverage in Michelin is laughable but I expect it to be.

If LPShanet could prove his point with another cuisine, then he'd really have match point.

A good start is the EMP exclusion, and the exclusion of anything Indian whatsoever in the star range.

--slowly backs away--

Edited by raji (log)
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4.  although JB has fallen in the estimation of people here (and I trust their judgment)...it still gets plenty of favorable reviews from some hardcore sushi fans.

I don't know who still favors it, it is probably the sushi fan who sees sushi as health food or sustenance, not a special occasion type thing, but seeing JB on the list is kind of like seeing deceased candidates on voter ballots. Seeing it at 1 star complete smacks the list's credibility in the face, unless it's an isolated incident. JB, IF IT EVER was a 1 star restaurant by their criteria, lost that and listing altogether when Shimizu-san left. Sorry tire-people, but BIG FAIL on that one, 3 years in a row isn't it?

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2.  "It is a cuisine based more on differences in ingredient quality and sourcing rather than more subjective measures such as technique, seasoning, etc, so relative quality is much easier to get a consensus on."

says you.

Nope, says just about every expert on Japanese food on the planet, both here and there. Try to find a book on Japanese cuisine that DOESN'T say this. Arguing this point is kind of like arguing against the idea that the French like butter.

Edited by LPShanet (log)
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Please note, I'm not suggesting it's a crap list overall.  On the contrary:  I think it's the best list we have to work with of its kind in NYC...better than Bruni's cumulative opus and far better than Zagat.
Well, if it's better than the Times or Zagat, then it's the best we have. The worst you can say is that it could theoretically be better, but you're comparing it to an abstraction that does not exist.
I think you'll find that there is information (or lack thereof) in the paragraphs about JoJo, Del Posto and Etats Unis that suggest they may not have been to them very often (in the case of Del Posto) or at all (JoJo and Etats Unis) in the last year.

As I understand it, the inspectors don't write the text that you see in the book, and I agree this is a problem. Edited by oakapple (log)
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Now, 15 East could get a star, and I would support that...

I will say that we had some really lackluster lunch service at EMP when we were there. I was quite surprised, things just took forever to get to the table, and we had specifically asked them to speed things up, as we needed to be out in an hour and a half (which wasn't that short of a time).

I want pancakes! God, do you people understand every language except English? Yo quiero pancakes! Donnez moi pancakes! Click click bloody click pancakes!

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I must say that the appeal of EMP has always eluded me on my three lunches there during Humm's tenure. The room stinks. The food is heavy without being particularly memorable. (I guess you could disagree on the latter judgment; the former, I think, is unassailable.) The service is fine but lacks the warmth of that at Gramercy Tavern. Now, EMP may be a different restaurant at dinner, but I can't say I've been remotely tempted to find out.

Is Kyo Ya a one star? Who knows? Who cares? The rice in broth with tofu skin, fresh-ground wasabi, a little plum and a few mushrooms is at $9 one of the great bargains in New York.

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