By Phil Vettel
12:09 PM CST, November 12, 2013
The Michelin Man was very good to Chicago on Tuesday, bestowing stars on 25 restaurants, the largest number in the four-year history of the Chicago Michelin guide.
“It was a great year in Chicago,” said Michael Ellis, Michelin’s international director in charge of the guides. “There are a lot of really interesting things going on; there are great chefs out there, and the audience is out there; they really like innovation in Chicago.”
Twenty Chicago restaurants earned a coveted Michelin star, including five first-time recipients: EL Ideas, the highly creative restaurant in Douglas Park; Elizabeth, the Lincoln Square restaurant owned by master forager Iliana Regan; The Lobby, the fine-dining room inside the Peninsula Chicago hotel; North Pond, the Lincoln Park restaurant whose absence from previous Michelin lists has been particularly conspicuous; and Senza, the gluten-free fine-dining restaurant in Lakeview.
All the one-star restaurants from the 2013 list retained their standing, with one exception — Sixteen, in the Trump International Hotel Tower, was promoted to the two-level.
In all, four restaurants received two stars, double the number of 2013 winners. In addition to Sixteen and repeat two-star winners L2O and Graham Elliot (which announced that it will close after its New Year’s Eve dinner), two stars went to Grace, Curtis Duffy’s fine-dining restaurant, in its first year of consideration.
And once again, Alinea, considered one of the best restaurants in the world, received Michelin’s maximum three-star designation.
"Look at who’s behind these restaurants; look at Curtis Duffy," Ellis said. “He’s worked with Grant (Achatz), Charlie (Trotter), Thomas Keller; he has great technique. I got to eat at Grace in September, and it was a beautiful meal. He does amazing things. The same with Thomas Lents (of Sixteen), who worked with Jean Joho and Joel Robuchon. His technical skills are well known. I don’t think (their high rating) will be a surprise to anybody.”
Ellis expressed admiration for several one-star recipients, including North Pond ("Bruce Sherman is a really interesting guy, who has really interesting takes on food") and Senza ("Our first gluten-free starred restaurant”).
On the downside, a few restaurants with arguably realistic Michelin-star aspirations were passed over. New restaurants Brindille and Masaki went unrecognized, and Michelin continued to snub mk, Les Nomades and Perennial Virant.
As was the case in 2013, no suburban restaurants received stars. Courtright’s (Willow Springs) and Vie (Western Springs) were one-star recipients in the 2012 Chicago Michelin Guide, but lost them in 2013.
The 2014 Chicago Michelin Guide, which lists more than 400 city and suburban restaurants, is available in bookstores today.
EL Ideas *
The Lobby *
Longman & Eagle
North Pond *
* New to 2014 Michelin guide
** Elevated from last year's one-star rating
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