For only the second time since Michelin began rating Chicago’s booming gastronomy scene five years ago, the city is home once again to two three-star restaurants. The organization’s local selections were announced Tuesday and are included in its 2015 Michelin Guide Chicago.
Helmed by chef Curtis Duffy and located in the West Loop, the formerly two-star Grace added a star this year, joining Grant Achatz’s Lincoln Park culinary bastion Alinea in those rarified ranks. Only 115 restaurants of the more than 20,000 that Michelin rates in 23 countries currently have that distinction.
“I feel amazing. I’m going to try to live in the moment and try to embrace what’s going on around me today and try to embrace the staff,” said Duffy, who received a congratulatory text from Alinea co-owner Nick Kokonas. “Everybody’s spirits are extremely high and I’m blessed to be where I am right now. I think it just solidifies a lot of things that we’ve worked extremely hard towards, the amount of sacrifice that we’ve put towards everything we do every single day. It answers a lot of questions for us: Are we good enough?”
“The addition of a new three-star restaurant in Chicago is really exciting news for us,” said international director of Michelin guides Michael Ellis. “It shows what a dynamic, exciting destination Chicago is and will continue to be. Curtis Duffy and his team have done a remarkable job of producing some world-class food with a unique signature, fantastic products and great cooking technique. The harmony of the flavors, the textures, the spices — he has a unique and emotional signature on his food and our inspectors were thrilled to confirm the third star.”
In Uptown, chef Jake Bickelhaupt’s lauded 42 Grams earned two stars in its first year of operation. It opened in January and is, according to Ellis, “a superb example of this new generation of young Chicago chefs that have trained with various established chefs in established houses and have traveled around the world and discovered new ingredients, new cooking techniques and are incorporating those into their own personal food.”
Standouts in the one-star category include Tony Mantuano’s revamped Spiaggia in the Gold Coast, which retained its star. The Lobby in River North (inside the Peninsula hotel) and Boka in Lincoln Park did, too. All of them are under the guidance of new (or newish) chefs.
Said Ellis, “We think that the fine dining scene in Chicago has never been brighter.”
Here’s the complete rundown:
The Lobby (at the Peninsula Chicago)
Want to read these Michelin-starred restaurant reviews? Here is how each restaurant fared in the eyes (and mouths) of area restaurant critics: