On (the) stars

First, I must acknowledge the time that has passed since the last post.  For a minute there we were turbocharged!  And on a schedule we intend to follow again in the near future.  There’s been some exciting business here at HQ (including the acquisition of a very wonderful black dog named Magnus), and we plan to share some of that excitement – and of course more posts – very soon.  But for now:  restaurants!

Those of you who follow this sort of stuff probably have known this for days, if not weeks (as I seem to recall the Bib Gourmand list coming out at least last week), but the 2015 Michelin Star winners were announced recently, and it’s always a list we here at the Spoon like to look over and discuss until we decide that everything is the best/worst and so expensive, and all we really want is a PB&J.  We tend to focus on the Chicago Michelin-starred restaurants – they’re like the aloof but really fascinating neighbor that you know just enough about to wonder about openly, but you’ve never been to their house, and once you did, you’d have like this really great evening together and swear to do this more often, but then not really interact except for a cursory, good-natured wave while one or both of you is getting the mail or something.


via Grace: www.grace-restaurant.com

This year’s winners make me feel old and so very irrelevant, as I’ve been to only two on the current list, and of those, I went to one so long ago before it probably even had a star.  (So, maybe, therefore, before it was cool… yeah!  That’s it!)

But there are some exciting things here:

  • Grace has a 3rd star!  In many ways I think I’d like to visit here more so than Alinea, Grace’s more veteran 3-star Chicago counterpart.  Grace’s menu seems a little more approachable, real, and, well, graceful.
  • Elizabeth has maintained its one-star status.  This is not at all a surprise; I am mainly happy that Iliana Regan has stayed on the list and that the restaurant and its “new gatherer” thing seem to have fully gained traction.  It’s one thing to think and talk about cuisine like that; it’s another to make it possible year-round (in Chicago, no less), and to get enough people to come pay for your food often enough to keep the lights on.  Way to go!  (Fun Elizabeth tip:  subscribe to their email list and occasionally you’ll receive notification of last-minute discounted tickets.  An excellent way to try this spot if it’s not normally in your budget.)
  • Also super happy that Longman & Eagle has remained on the list.  I’m so proud that a concept like theirs – unapologetically true to its original values (which, to my mind, never seemed to focus on, or even give two sh*ts about, Michelin stardom), and embracing of a broad sense of relaxed but genuine hospitality, particularly once it opened its guest rooms – sits as peer to other, likely more traditional (stuffy?) places when you look at Michelin’s list worldwide.  To me they have always seemed to embody what a lot of Chicago restaurants attempt, but might not have the soul or skill to really pull off.  Another high five!

What restaurants on the list have you tried?  What changes (more/fewer stars) do you agree or disagree with?  What restaurants are on your dream list?  What are your thoughts on/experiences of restaurants with steep ratios of plate size : stuff on the plate : price of the meal?  It is an interesting ratio to consider.

Discuss in the comments!

Upcoming post:  my very favorite list of the year (which includes my own Christmas wish list) – the Bib Gourmands.

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