In the cosmos of restaurants, a Michelin star plaque is like an Oscar statue. It means you have arrived. Last night the prestigious stars were handed out to restaurants around New York. While no restaurant moved up into the sacred ranks of three stars, The Modern and its chef Abram Bissell climbed the ladder from one star to two, essentially winning the evening.
Ten restaurants joined the one-star category, including newcomers like The Finch, Tempura Matsui, Gabriel Kreuther, Rebelle and local Thai favorite Uncle Boons. Meanwhile, several forward-thinking restaurants, like critical darlings Estela, Contra, Cosme, and sushi heavy hitters O Ya, Shuko and Sushi Nakazawa were left out in the cold.
The rankings are always fodder for arguments among food writers, so here's what the Tasting Table editorial team is saying about this year's results.
A seafood grill at Uncle Boons | Photo: Evan Sung
With Uncle Boons and Somtum Der both gaining stars this year and Pok Pok retaining its one star, it's clearer than ever that New York is kicking ass in its Thai food game. What is amazing to see is how Michelin has grown over the years, awarding restaurants that take a more communal approach to dining and that won't deplete your bank account. The biggest shock, however, is the absence of Contra, Cosme and Estela from the list, three of the most exciting restaurants in New York for quite some time now. How is it that Michelin, a formal arbiter of taste, ignored the three quintessential restaurants that are changing the way New Yorkers are eating? —Andy Baraghani, food editor
This year's Michelin list seems to send two messages: Casual food and dining are worthy of Michelin attention but only to a certain point. The inclusion of several relatively casual Thai restaurants hints at the direction Michelin is moving in—an acknowledgement that there's more to great dining than white linens. But the forward-thinking momentum seems to stop at the one-star level. Inventive and excellent restaurants like Blanca deserve to be bumped up. And where, pray tell, are Cosme, Estela and Contra? They are all worthy of our attention, just as much as Semilla. —Devra Ferst, senior editor
The back room at Uncle Boon's | Photo: Oleg March
I find a lot of excuses to splurge at Rebelle (steak tartare research, catch-up dinner with out-of-town friends), so I'm not surprised to see a new star for the nouveau French restaurant (and in such great company, too, with newbies Semilla and Uncle Boons!). However, I'm puzzled by Yasuda gaining a star since Naomichi Yasuda left to set up shop in Tokyo (and it's fantastic!), and there are so many other fresher, stranger, exciting sushi spots in the city. Speaking of snubs, it's odd that big, big openings like Cosme, the new Mission Chinese and Santina (the latter might be a stretch, but I personally love it!) didn't make the list or acclaimed restaurants like Contra and even Fung Tu (maybe the gas issue?). The Michelin guide never ceases to entertain me. —Elyse Inamine, editor
I'm excited about the variety of cuisines represented, especially with all of the Thai food. But I don't understand how two of the most exciting restaurants, Estela and Contra, aren't on the list! I'm happiest to see Hirohisa get attention. It is one of my favorites and so underrated. —Katy Peetz, associate food editor
I know that as a professional eater of food I'm supposed to have some passionate opinions on the yearly rotations of the Michelin star galaxy, but each year I feel a little further removed from it. There was a time when it really, truly meant something (French chef Bernard Loiseau took his own life when he feared he'd lose a star), and it's still a benchmark for some chefs—especially those in the fine dining realm—but I think its sparkle has dimmed. When it started out as a tire company's guidebook over a century ago, it was sort of the only game in town and provided a huge service to culinarily minded tourists who didn't want to waste a meal. With the advent of the internet and access to a whole host of experts and critics I know and trust, I decreasingly give credence to the rankings given by their "famously anonymous" diners in whose opinions I have no stake.
But since I know that plenty of people do still use it as a compass by which to guide their dining journey, I'll say this: I 1 billion percent agree with the bump up for The Modern; am gobsmacked that Blue Hill, Gotham, Babbo and Gramercy remain single-starred (what the hell are these people looking for re: restaurant excellence?!); and expel a prolonged yawn at a good 50 percent of the three-star list. Also, how in the world is Peter Luger on the list and not Estela, Il Buco, Craft, Blue Hill Stone Barns or Dirt Candy? Perhaps this particular star system is now just a black hole. —Kat Kinsman, editor at large
Foie gras and huckleberry tart at The Modern | Photo: Nathan Rawlinson
It's always funny to me when people mention that the Michelin Guide is no longer relevant. The guides in the last few years are now beginning to reflect the shift in how New Yorkers value the city's dining scene. The one stars are a prime example of how far we are getting from the original perception that excellent dining experiences for Michelin all fit into one bucket (white tablecloth included). Great examples of this shift are Delaware and Hudson, which retained its star this year, and newcomer Semilla.
However, I think the biggest opportunity for change is with the most overlooked section of the guide. The Bib Gourmands could include a greater selection of restaurants to complement the one-star experiences. Places like Cosme, Dirty French or even Babu Ji are essential to dining in NYC right now but are left without a distinction simply because they don't fit into Bib Gourmand's obtuse parameters.
Oh, and if we are including Napa in San Francisco's lists, then we should start looking at the Hudson Valley for restaurants "worth the detour." —Jake Miller, product team
Here are this year's star rankings for New York City:
Three Stars ("exceptional cuisine, worth a special journey")
Chef's Table at Brooklyn Fare
Eleven Madison Park
Throw back EMP's mint juleps.
Get wine tips from wine director Aldo Sohm.
Two Stars ("excellent cuisine, worth a detour")
One Star ("a very good restaurant in its category")
Put your salad in a sandwich like April Bloomfield.
Delaware and Hudson
The Finch (new)
Gabriel Kreuther (new)
Gotham Bar and Grill
Fry chicken the Michael Anthony way.
Luksus at Tørst
Musket Room (The)
Grow an urban herb garden like chef Matt Lambert.
M. Wells Steakhouse
Master the perfect steak at home.
River Café (The)
Somtum Der (new)
Sushi of Gari
Sushi Yasuda (new)
Uncle Boons (new)
ZZ's Clam Bar
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