Sunday, October 31, 2010

The Michelin-stargasm: A Wrap-Up

So I accumulated 37 Michelin stars in 35 days, covering a range of restaurants and countries in the process.

Now that it has concluded, it's time to compose the thoughts; compare and contrast; reflect. This... is the Michelin star wrap-up (in chronological order).

il Convivio. Rome. 1 star. One of the worst Michelin-starred meals of the trip, if not the worst. While the restaurant is lovely and the service good, the food was lacking for me. Nearly every dish had a flaw.

Cracco. Milan. 2 stars. Spectacular meal. In the top 5 of the trip, but only just. Excellent food and service, but lacking just a little something to make it as enjoy as the best of the trip.

Trussardi alla Scala. Milan. 2 stars. Kick-arse cooking. While it wasn't as intricate as some places, or as experimental as others, it made up for it by just tasting brilliantly. Coupled with good service, comfortable seats and an excellent vibe. I'd rate this around 5th or 6th of the trip.

Paul Bocuse. Lyon. 3 stars. Stars given for respect, not for anything else. Everything was dated. Sure, the food was good (great even), but it was from another era/decade/century/time. Go there if you want to worship Bocuse, not if you want to have a meal on par with the best in the world.

l'Assiette Champenoise. Reims/Tinqueux. 2 stars. Dessert destruction. Some very, very solid food in an excellent looking restaurant. Truly devestating quantity of food (my fault). Out of the top 5, but not by much.

Le Pressoir d'Argent. Bordeaux. 1 star. Some of the worst service of the trip, coupled with excellent food. Unfortunately, excellent food that isn't good enough to make up for the service. But I think we got them on an off night so I don't want to give an overly negative impression of the place, because with good service it could be a great place.

Senderens. Paris. 2 stars. All very solid, but not as good as the top places in either food, experience or service. I'd like to return again to eat more dishes before making up my mind on this place.

Le Celadon. Paris. 1 star. An excellent weekend lunch menu. Extraordinary value for the food on offer.

l'Atelier de Joel Robuchon. Paris. 2 stars. The second best meal of the trip behind Guy Savoy. The experience of eating at the counter was such a welcomed break from everywhere else and the food was great (the marrow on toast: Jesus died for that). Although this place got help because we went so nuts and gorged like crazy.

Le Cinq. Paris. 2 stars. I wasn't expecting the food to be that great but it was actually quite good. Coupled with a stunning dining room and some of the best service of the trip, this was a good one.

Guy Savoy. Paris. 3 stars. Without a doubt the best purely fine dining experience I have ever had. Breathtaking food, utterly flawless service and, incredibly, buckloads of fun! Also incredibly expensive ($800AUD). Was it worth it? Yes, yes, yes.

Taillevent. Paris. 2 stars. One of the big disappointments of the trip. A legendary place in terms of history, but the food did nothing. The service was also only average.

Michel Rostang. Paris. 2 stars. While I didn't get the truffle sandwich I'd heard so much about, I did get a fantastic meal. That quenelle in seafood sauce was stunning. Everything else was also excellent. Some of the best "pure" cooking of the trip, with none of that new-world/molecular stuff getting in the way. I'd love to go back and try more.

Lasserre. Paris. 2 stars. Come for the excellent food, but stay for the ambiance. When that roof opens the place feels magical.

Lasarte. Barcelona. 2 stars. I really wanted to try more of this place. While there were a few minor flaws, the food was original and fantastic. That pig trotter dish was a killer.

Cinc Sentis. Barcelona. 1 star. Good food, good flavour combinations, good techniques and good value. Everything about this place was solid.

Comcerc 24. Barcelona. 1 star. It tried a little too hard for no reason. Some dishes were average, some dishes were killers. But in the end it was a good dining experience. If it relaxed it could be even better.

La Terrazza del Casino Madrid. Madrid. 2 stars. One of the top 5 meals of the trip. Great experimental food (Ferran Adria consulted on it) alongside a good wine list and top service.

Ramon Freixa. Madrid. 1 star. A tremendous quantity of good food. It kept coming and I kept eating. The best of the 1-starred places I ate at.

La Broche. Madrid. 1 star. A huge amount of dishes (again), but not all of them good this time. It tried hard, but the execution was missing in parts. Still, there were some good parts.

Restaurant Tavares. Lisbon. 1 star. So much gold and mirror in a dining room. So much. Good food. It didn't blow me away but it kept me happy enough the whole time.

Lion d'Or. Geneva. 1 star. Breathtaking, panoramic view of Lake Geneva, even if it was slightly overcast. Coupled with good food, service and wine and you have an enjoyable meal.

So what was my best Michelin-starred meal? Guy Savoy.

What was my worst? il Convivio.

What's my opinion of the Michelin star rankings? Like any restaurant rating system, it isn't perfect, there are restaurants that could go up or down one. But the main problem with the Michelin rankings is the stars given to restaurants purely because they used to be good. Food is all about now, not decades ago. Tastes change and restaurants need to keep up to date with them.

No comments: