Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Michelin Missed the Mark

Ok, so I've finally gotten a chance to really dive into the Michelin Guide San Francisco: Bay Area and Wine Country 2007 and I now have a bit more of an opinion. While most critics and bloggers are focusing on the issue of "who got how many stars" I think there is a bigger issue at stake.

Having perused the book I can't believe how many restaurants were passed over. And not passed over for stars, passed over for any listing at all. I know they limit themselves to only 356 restaurants but they left out so many great places that we in the Bay Area love--neighborhood places like Kiss, Plouf, Destino, Luna Park, Coco500, Last Supper Club, Antica Trattoria, Kappa, Mama's, Kate's Kitchen, Okoze, Maya, Jai Yun. This is just a short list of places that are conspicuously missing. And to me these are restaurants that reflect the Bay Area.

The criticism that somehow the guide missed the "essence of the Bay Area" I think is fair. We have our own standards for what is great food and those shouldn't be ignored. It's worth taking a look at which restaurants are popular and more importantly, why. Many trends across the country begin here in part because of our location, and because we have fantastic quality ingredients and passionate chefs.

I think when people come here they should step off the beaten track, some of the best food is hidden and takes some effort to find, whether you are an "inspector" or a tourist. I won't go into detail about the restaurants that were included and ought not to have been, but suffice it to say, there were plenty. It's a shame Michelin can't help point people to those buried treasures but instead ends up at the same old haunts. People are bound to discover great places to eat here, but perusing the Michelin is not the best way to do that.

My favorite guides to date are San Francisco Food Lover's Guide by Patricia Unterman and The Slow Food Guide to San Francisco and the Bay Area (I am also a fan of the restaurant reviews on Yelp).

UPDATE: Hat's off to Michael Bauer for delving even deeper, and discovering glaring inaccuracies in the actual restaurant descriptions. I noticed a couple but not near as many as he caught. It really does call in to question whether or not the inspectors actually did visit each and every restaurant....