Chicago’s galaxy of Michelin-star rated restaurants continues to dazzle as the prestigious honors for the 2017 Michelin Guide Chicago were announced Wednesday.
The city’s dynamic duo of three-star restaurants, Grace in the West Loop and Alinea in Lincoln Park, each retained its coveted rating for the coming year. (There are only 14 in the country that have achievedthe lofty triple stars.)
Our city’s culinary world now also claims five two-star Michelin winners, as newcomer Oriole and perennial Chicago favorite Tru joined the ranks of Acadia, 42 Grams and Sixteen for the coveted designation (only 25 establishments across the U.S. now claim the rating).
“When it comes to Oriole, Noah [Sandoval] is a great chef,” said Michael Ellis, the international director of Michelin Guides. “He’s been able to do something truly unique with hisgluten-free [Senza]. That was a first for us. Oriole is incredibly ambitious with a unique signature. Noah is one of the youngest two-star chefs in the world today.”
Nineteen establishments can now boast one-star ratings, including four newcomers: Streeterville’s GreenRiver; Roister and Smyth, both in the West Loop, and Ravenswood’s Band of Bohemia brewpub.
In his accolades forone-star newcomer Smyth, Ellis said John Shields and wife Karen Shields “are big on farm-sourced foods; they have a 20-acre farm outside Chicago. They’ve been able to combine things from the earth and the seas in such unique ways. The fois gras with dungeness crab — our inspectors have not come across that before. [Same with ] the squab with squid reduction. It just reflects their technical training with an artistic ability to pair different products and create something new and wonderful.”
Band of Bohemia is a unique entry into Chicago’s Michelin-star world by its very nature. “This is an incredible microbrewery that incorporates the whole brewery concept into the food,” said Ellis. “And they’re brewing these insane beers, like pink guava peppercorn!”
Said Band of Bohemia executive chef Matt DuBois, “First and foremost [co-owner/head brewer Michael Carroll] and I try and create harmonious pairings in terms of [the menu]. There are folks who assume that we cook with beer and all that, but to be completely honest that’s not what we do. The whole idea here is that the beer stands on its own and the dish stands on its own.”
“Having been a chef myself for years and years, there have been places that do beer and food and sometimes it works, [more often] it rarely works,” said Carroll. “At the end of the day I’d rather have a dish WITH the beer and not try to muddle the two. … But one of my favorite things Matt does with beer are the vinegars; utilizing all these different flavors that don’t come out in the beer but do in the vinegar.”
As for Chicago’s three-star eateries, Ellis cited Grant Achatz and his team for their complete and successful relaunch of Alinea, and Curtis Duffy for maintaining the standard of excellence at Grace. “We have to take our hats off to Grant,” Ellis said. They rebooted the entire restaurant, creating a new concept, menu, and retaining the three-star standards.
“People need to understand that a three-star award is not a lifetime achievement award,” Ellis continued. “They’re bestowed every year and chefs really have to show us that they have sustained that standard of excellence and creativity. Michelin has a presence in 28 countries [only four U.S. cities, Chicago, New York, San Francisco and Washington, D.C., currently boast their own Michelin guides] and we have over 20,000 restaurants among the various guides. Of those, there are only 118 that have three stars.”
Here is the full complement of 2017 Michelin Guide Chicago restaurants and their star ratings:
Alinea (1723 N. Halsted); Chef Grant Achatz
Grace (652 W. Randolph); Chef Curtis Duffy
Acadia (1639 S. Wabash); Chef Ryan McCaskey
42 Grams (4662 N. Broadway); Chef Jake Bickelhaupt
Oriole (661 W. Walnut); Chef Noah Sandoval
Sixteen (401 N. Wabash); Chef Thomas Lents
Tru (676 N. St Clair); Chef Anthony Martin
Band of Bohemia (4710 N. Ravenswood); Chef Matt DuBois
Blackbird (619 W. Randolph); Chef Paul Kahan
Boka (1729 N. Halsted); Chef Lee Wolen
Dusek’s Board & Beer (1227 W. 18th St.); Chef Jared Wentworth
EL Ideas (2419 W. 14th St.); Chef Phillip Foss
Elizabeth Restaurant (4835 N. Western); Chef Iliana Regan
Everest (One Financial News, 440 S, La Salle); Chef Jean Joho
Goosefoot (2656 W. Lawrence); Chef Chris Nugent
GreenRiver (259 E. Erie); Chef Aaron Lirette
Longman & Eagle (2657 N. Kedzie); Chef Matthew Kerney
NAHA (500 N. Clark); Chef Carrie Nahabedian
North Pond (610 N. Cannon Dr.); Chef Bruce Sherman
Parachute (3500 N. Elston), Chefs Beverly Kim and Johnny Clark
Roister (951 W. Fulton Market); Chef Andrew Brochu
Schwa (1466 N. Ashland) Chef Michael Carlson
Sepia (123 N. Jefferson); Chef Andrew Zimmerman
Smyth (177 N. Ada St #101); Chef John B. Shields
Spiaggia (980 N. Michigan); Chef Tony Mantuano
Topolobampo (445 N. Clark); Chef Rick Bayless
A note about the Michelin Guide and star ratings:
The selections of all restaurants in the guide are made by Michelin’s anonymous inspectors who dine in the Chicago area regularly. These local inspectors are trained to scrupulously apply the same time-tested methods used by Michelin inspectors for many decades throughout the world. This ensures a uniform, international standard of excellence. As a further guarantee of complete objectivity, Michelin inspectors pay all their bills in full, and only the quality of the cuisine is evaluated. To fully assess the quality of a restaurant, the inspectors apply five criteria defined by Michelin: product quality, preparation and flavors, the chef’s personality as revealed through his or her cuisine, value for money, and consistency over time and across the entire menu.