Michelin 2012: L2O gets knocked, and other developments

Photograph: Drew Reynolds

Like all the other food writers in town (except those whom Michelin whispers secrets to), we love talking smack about how Michelin got it wrong. Another favorite topic: How irrelevant Michelin is; how we don't think we should be talking about it. Which, um, is why we're writing this blog post? 

Ah, well, we can argue about the logic of that later. For now, let's talk some more smack. Moments ago, the 2012 star ratings were announced by Michelin's best friend, the Chicago Tribune. And there were a few—okay, really only two—points of interest:

1. Michelin knocked L2O to 1 star down from 3. Let's not forget: a Michelin 1-star restaurant is still a recommended restaurant. But the dramatic downgrade is a slap in the face for Lettuce Entertain You's flagship fine dining spot. Earlier this year we ate at and re-reviewed L2O and found, like Michelin did, that the restaurant did indeed seem to be floundering in the wake of chef Laurent Gras's departure. (It's worth noting that not everybody felt this way—Chicago magazine's Jeff Ruby raved about his meal at L2O shortly after we moaned about ours.) So in this respect, we have to agree with the Michelin guide—L2O was not what it once was. In 2011. But as for 2012 (and this is, presumably, a guide to eating for the coming year), we aren't so sure. L2O has a new chef (Matthew Kirkley) whose food we and, we're guessing, the Michelin critics haven't sampled yet. And if the Tru is any indication, LEYE can turn restaurants around even when the celebrity chefs behind them are gone across the country.  

2. Where is Next? It did not get any stars, nor did it get a Bib Gourmand, nor is it even listed in the guide at all despite the fact that it’s the most notable opening in Chicago—and arguably in the country—this year. This is perfectly in character for Michelin; an ape could evolve faster than this guidebook. After the always-aloof @MichelinGuideCH tweeted, “You now what I can’t get? Next reservations,” did he or she just give up? Talk smack! By which we mean: Discuss!


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Laura Baginski, Editor (@TimeOutChicago)