Michelin France 2006: ‘The Red’ is done!

Guidemichelin2006_1Last Friday, Libération, the Paris paper, published a scoop on the new
Michelin guide
for France 2006. The biggest news, perhaps, is the
awarding of the –long awaited and highly deserved- third star to Oliver
Roellinger in Brittany
. Shall I just say I told you so?

Frankly I am not sure what has taken Michelin all this time, Roellinger
has long been acknowledged by his peers –the likes of Troisgros and
Gagnaire with plenty of stars to their names- to have earned his proper
place amongst the best of them. But then again, Michelin appears to
have a lot of catching up to do.

That’s probably why I wasn’t particularly surprised to see that Yannick
Alléno did not get his third star, despite the fact that Le Meurice has
consistently been performing at the three-star level. I’m
not even the only one believing so, Vincent Noce who wrote the
Libération scoop said as much himself.

While snubbing the new generation, such as Alléno, Piège, and Frechon
(who is not my favorite), Michelin seems to have changed its mind on
the issue of chefs with multiple restaurants. Gone are the days that
Alain Ducasse had one star taken away from a restaurant merely because
he opened another that also received three stars -legend has it that
back then Michelin didn’t believe a chef could consistently support two
three-star establishments. Michelin of today, however, appears to be on the side
of the empire-building chefs. Joël Robuchon has gotten four stars
altogether from his growing fiefdom that stretches from Paris to Monaco
(Michelin doesn’t rate the one in Vegas). Pierre Gagnaire took over
Gaya since la rentrèe last year and promptly receives one star on this guide just a few
months later. On the strength of the signature bearing the name of
Alain Ducasse on the purchase contract alone, Benoît gets to keep its long-endangered star, even if the ink has barely dried and
Ducasse hasn’t even taken over the operation yet. Change is the only
constant in life, I suppose.

Alain Sanderens who last year famously denounced all his Michelin stars and revamped his Lucas Carton into a luxe brasserie, retains two of his stars despite all the brouhahas surrounding the transformation –or downgrading, depending on your point of view- of his restaurant. Even Robuchon who was quoted multiple times in print that he didn’t care if Michelin even looked at his Atelier, got one for that, and two for La Table, and yet another one for his eponymous place in Monte Carlo. Perhaps it’s a case of she doth protest too much. You think?

I must say I do mourn the passing of the giant that was Lucas Carton. The change at what is now known simply as Alain Senderens, to me, translates to bad lighting, harried service, oddly composed menu, and over-priced wine list (admittedly with some superb bottles that are likely holdovers from the LC days). The only thing that was on my mind as I left my meal there in October was how I missed Lucas Carton. Oh, yes, and also how the check really wasn’t all that cheaper, certainly not on the price/value rapport.

All joking and snarkiness aside, Michelin has, as usual, brought a number of previously unknown places to my attention. One interesting one that’s certainly worthy of a look-in is young Jean Sulpice of L’Oxalys in Val-Thorens, who is all of 27 and has just received his very first star on this guide. Both a deciple of Marc Veyrat –yes he of the hat– and dutiful pilgrim to Cala Montjoy, it is quite a wonder he still reportedly knows his fond from his face, and keeps on his menu not only air but the old school gélée and mousse. Time to pack up my skis and go check him out.

The official 2006 Guide Rouge will be on the market March 1st.


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12 Responses to “Michelin France 2006: ‘The Red’ is done!

  • GastroChick said:
    February 8th, 2006 at 4:16am

    I am in total agreement that Roellinger deserves a third star, well done to him. I ate at his restauant a while ago and the food was truly phenemonal. I wonder whether Adoni Adruiz will recieve another star for his inventive cooking at Murgaritz, near San Sebastian?

  • SamanthaF said:
    February 8th, 2006 at 5:52pm

    Nice report Pim.
    We will do Gagnaire together one day 😉

  • Jean-Louis said:
    February 8th, 2006 at 10:23pm

    Sounds like a good call for Roellinger. Lucas Carton was not worth all that much, Senderens or not. Looks like Michelin gets your OK in France but not in NY. Yet it is the same steady plodding approach to fine dining that is at work in both places.

  • food.elitistreview.com said:
    February 9th, 2006 at 5:42am

    The new Michelin guide

  • Bux said:
    February 9th, 2006 at 7:42am

    We ate at Roellinger’s back in July of 1997. The Breton chef who later became our son-in-law, told us that this would be one of France’s next three star restaurants. In spite of an annoying service glitch on arrival we were ultimately charmed by the service and the food. I noted on my WorldTable site that “We had an unsurpassed evening here.” Of that third star, I wrote back then that “I wouldn’t bet against it coming soon.” Clearly, I should avoid casinos and race tracks, not to mention gambling sites. Over the years, I’ve become a more discriminating diner (or so I hope), but I’ve also become a more critical user of restaurant guides. I suspect Michelin has done itself a greater service than it has to Roellinger by acknowledging his talents. On the basis of your comments here, I’m of the impression you remain a skeptic as well in spite of Michelin’s occasional usefulness.

  • lilia said:
    February 9th, 2006 at 4:25pm

    Pierre Gagnaire – the best Michelin 3* I’ve eaten at.
    Lucas Carton (same trip as the Gagnaire meal) was quite disappointing.
    Ledoyen (May 2005)- nice but not up to par with the 3* meals we experienced years ago at Le Grand Vefour, Joel Robuchon, Taillevent, L’Arpege, and Senderens before he became Lucas Carton.
    Last week, I had my birthday meal at Le Meurice and it was a disappointing meal altogether. The entree was good; the main course so – so – and the dessert (even the pre-dessert) would not have deserved an elevation to a 3*. Could it be that Chef Alleno was not present at the restaurant that day?
    For the price/value rapport, it was truly disappointing.

  • Lil said:
    February 11th, 2006 at 3:20am

    matt was just at val-thorens last week, maybe it’s time to ask if he’ll be interested in going there again… he gets to snowboard and i get to eat! 😀

  • haddock said:
    February 11th, 2006 at 9:20am

    Frechon part of the “new generation” ? Wouldn’t he be positively old guard by now?

  • Ulterior Epicure said:
    February 12th, 2006 at 3:38pm

    any news on dear detournier?

  • Pim said:
    February 13th, 2006 at 12:41am

    GastroChick: Yes, absolutely, Roellinger deserves all the accolades to come his way.
    Sam: April good for you? 😉
    Jean-Louis: I know, LC had been on the decline even before he took the plunge and made the change. On Michelin, as all things, I retain a certain degree of skepticism.
    Bux: I read your review of Roellinger on your site. You had the right call, just was a little ahead of your time. 🙂 I agree with you about the third star not doing much for Roellinger, who’s already a smashing success and a prime example of how to build your empire while staying connected to your roots.
    Lilia: Gagnaire is fabulous, yes. Too bad to hear about Le Meurice. I’ve had nothing but wonderful meals there. Perhaps you should give Yannick another chance? I find that the lunch set menu at Le Meurice is one of the better deals in town.
    Lil: I’ll come eat with you….though I might bring my skis as well…got to find something to do before dinnertime, no?
    Haddock: Well, I guess ‘new’ means ‘not yet part of the 3* old guards’. He’s not exactly young, but is considered part of the young*er* generation, yes.
    UE: No change for Alain Detournier, as far as I know.
    cheers all,

  • Andrew said:
    May 30th, 2006 at 8:30am

    Pim, First time posting (though I had the pleasure of meeting you at Manresa last August while dining with Patrice and Enda). I’m off to Paris and elsewhere in France next week. Anything new and amazing I should be aware of? Thanks for your thoughts.

  • Christina said:
    October 4th, 2006 at 11:06am

    Hi Pim….I LOVE your site. Im in the similar background of yours except I don’t write blogs or too lazy to write about what I’ve eaten. I read your blogs before trying to chomp down in 1 or 3 michelin stars or pattiseries in Paris where I go quite often. Keep up the good work. Your excellent photos help me to decide quick on what to buy in a pastry shop in Paris.

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