It's lunch time, and my decisions on that score will be based on which Seamless restaurant can get the best possible sandwich to me in the shortest possible order, but perhaps your refined palate demands fancier options. If so, you're in luck, because Michelin—the tire company that somehow feels entitled to go around handing out restaurant ratings—released its 2019 guide, awarding its coveted stars to 11 restaurants freshly inducted onto the list.
The updated Michelin Guide New York City includes 76 eateries visited by anonymous agents who silently judge the fare for your benefit. This year, people whose food knowledge extends beyond "reliably solid sandwich options nearby" agree that the selections are appetizing, if predictable. "They're all notable, for sure," Forbes reviewer Karla Alindahao writes. "But none are exactly groundbreaking or deeply exciting. Michelin, after all, is known for its relatively 'safe' and staid choices." Understated burn!
In 2019, the five restaurants Michelin graced with three stars—which translates, in tire speak, to "exceptional cuisine, worth a special journey," as I'm sure you're already aware—are Chef's Table at Brooklyn fare, which is actually in Midtown West; Eleven Madison Park, in Gramercy; Le Bernardin, in Midtown West; Masa, in Midtown West; and Per Se, also in Midtown West, where else is there. Pleasingly to me, Alindahao calls this a "stagnant" pool of "ho-hum" restaurant choices because it has remained mostly unchanged for years.
Meanwhile, the newcomers, which actually number 10 because one (Tetsu Basement, formerly of TriBeCa) shut its doors between covert visit and guide publication, are scattered across the worth-a-detour two-star category and the worth-a-stop one-star category. Five NYC restaurants also saw their Michelin star status elevated: Gabriel Kreuther, Kosaka, Le Coucou, Sushi Nakazawa and Tuome.
If you want to get into some food politics, like I do, than you may be interested to learn that three of Mario Batalli's restaurants—Babbo, Casa Mono, and Del Posto—held onto their rankings, despite the wave of sexual misconduct allegations (for example, that he assaulted a woman in the so-called "rape room" upstairs at former Michelin star-winner, the Spotted Pig) that forced him to step away from his culinary investments in 2017.
Speaking of the Spotted Pig, its ex-chef—April Bloomfield, who publicly parted ways with partner Ken Friedman this summer, following sexual harassment and abuse claims against him—saw her Ace Hotel restaurant, The Breslin, lose its star. As Eater reports, a number of talented women have been docked or denied stars this year. At the same time, the 2019 guide points diners toward relatively homogeneous menus, with two of its three starred Mexican spots run by chefs who are not actually Mexican.
"It's important to emphasize that Michelin stars are awarded to restaurants, not to chefs," Gwendal Poullennec, the guide's new international director, told Eater. "It's about what's on the plate, and has been that way for over a century." Which suggests that a change in the rubric might be due, if you ask me. Regrettably, though, no one did.
Anyway, if you would like to visit any of the freshly starred and still open establishments, check out the list below. If you would like something slightly more low-budget, I feel you, and direct you to the 2019 Bib Gourmand selections released last week: Very good food for under $40 per meal. I said slightly, okay!
Three Stars (“Exceptional cuisine, worth a special journey.”)
Chef’s Table at Brooklyn Fare
Eleven Madison Park
Two Stars (“Excellent cooking, worth a detour.”)
Ichimura at Uchū
L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon
Sushi Ginza Onodera
Tetsu Basement (Closed)
One Star (“High-quality cooking, worth a stop!”)
Bouley at Home
Gotham Bar and Grill
Günter Seeger NY
Jeju Noodle Bar
Le Grill de Joël Robuchon
The Musket Room
The River Café
ZZ’s Clam Bar