Michelin Restaurant Guide
Michelin Restaurant Guide : The Michelin Guide For San Francisco and Wine Country
The 5th edition of the Michelin Guide for the San Francisco Bay Area and the Napa and Sonoma wine country was released in October 2010. If you are not familiar with the guide, you should know that the Michelin guide (known as the “Red Guide”) is the most authoritative and respected restaurant guide published in France.
Michelin has released its French guide annually for over 100 years. Additionally, it publishes similar guides for most other countries in Europe, and has recently expanded the series to cover New York City, San Francisco and Tokyo.
Michelin’s system for reviewing restaurants is both deceptively simple yet extremely complex. If you would like to learn more about the French Michelin guide, and my own introduction to it over twenty years ago, click here. However, for present purposes, if you are not familiar with the guide, you need to know that Michelin awards “stars” to restaurants based primarily on the quality of their cooking. A three-star rating is the highest honor, although two and one star awards are also extremely important. Restaurants not making the one-star rating are also included in the Michelin guide, and are given rankings of “forks & spoons”—with five being the highest ranking in this category. In practice, however, most “fork and spoon” restaurants are in the one or two category, and you can eat quite well in a one fork and spoon restaurant.
Wine Country restaurants did especially well in the San Francisco Michelin Guide. Michelin awarded its highest rating to two restaurants in Napa Valley: the French Laundry, and the Restaurant at Meadowood. The French Laundry has held the three star rating for the last 4 year, but this was the first year that Meadowood received this coveted award.
To put this in perspective, it should be noted that in all of France in 2009, Michelin awarded just 26 restaurants a three-star rating. Although the number of French three star restaurants has inched up in recent years, the Michelin inspectors can never be accused of “grade inflation” when it comes to awarding three stars to a restaurant.