Michelin Guide New York City 2016 Restaurants: An Inside Look

The Michelin Guide New York City is celebrating its first decade in the Big Apple, having recently anointed the city’s best restaurants from a city with among the richest selection in the country. We’re pleased to highlight the Michelin Guide New York City 2016 restaurants and provide an inside look at how the stars awarded.

Michelin Guide NYC 2016 Winners

Michelin’s top secret elite team of professional inspectors have been swarming the city over the past year, literally dining out twice a day, every day, evaluating and re-evaluating well over a thousand of the city’s eateries to tasting their way to the finest. It’s an enviable job, but a grueling one. The inspectors consider a broad array of criteria to sift out the very best. This year, out of hundreds considered, a mere 76 got stars.

Receiving just one of these coveted stars is a considered a huge honor and is often a career-changing affirmation of a chef’s (and his kitchen’s) talent. The dark side is the incredible pressure to maintain that standard since Michelin continually checks in (always anonymously) to ensure things are up to snuff.

Alas, the lion’s share of the attention invariably gets showered on the perennial (albeit deserving) winners that garner the pinnacle of three-stars: Eleven Madison Park, Per Se, Masa. Without a doubt, each offers breathtaking culinary delights. But their experience is more akin to a seismic event than an ordinary meal. For mere mortals, though, just scoring a table at most of them can require months of waiting. The typically epic tasting menus can be multi-hour endurance challenges that culminate with a bill that may rival your mortgage payment. They are memorable extravaganzas perfect special events and life milestones but probably not a weekly ritual for most of us.

Hidden in plain view, though, are some lesser-known finds among New York City’s 60-odd one-star winners. Despite the coveted endorsement of Michelin, many of these places are neighborhood treasures sometimes better known to well-prepared European tourists brandishing their telltale Red Michelin guides than to local New Yorkers. Get in while you can. These spots are home to some of the city’s very best meals and their secret won’t last forever.

Here are a few of our favorites…

The Musket Room
Self-trained Kiwi chef Matt Lambert first solo effort caught the eye of the Michelin crew mere weeks after opening and, in a rare feat, earned its first star just a few months later. A celebration of the ingredients and cuisine of his native New Zealand, Lambert’s kitchen is constantly innovating but always seeming to hit the mark. The understated, stark dining room is the ideal canvas to show off his gorgeously painterly dishes. The menu now includes a nine-course chef’s tasting, but the a la carte is hard to beat. The signature Red Deer flavored with deconstructed essence of gin is a sophisticated and nuanced combination of flavors that never gets tired.

2016 Michelin NYC Winners

The Finch
Another rookie, Gabe McMackin, quietly launched Finch Clinton Hill’s The Finch less than a year ago, but the intrepid Michelin crew discovered his bold-flavored approach to farm-to-table soon after. Much to the chef’s surprise and delight – they were soon awarded their first star. McMackin’s conceptual menu can seem deceptively simple, but his tiny (I mean tiny) kitchen packs tremendous skill executing each dish beautifully. His much discussed, but not to be missed, $8 bread plate is a restrained showcase for exceptional, local ingredients to shine including some of the best butter you may ever have the privilege of eating.

Michelin Guide NYC 2016 Winners

Meadowsweet
Polo Dobkin, who earned his first Michelin nod at the now defunct Dressler is now on his own and better than ever. His delicate pastas and earthy mains (try the duck with black mission fig) prove the first round of kudos were no fluke. The unrecognizably transformed space is a lighter, more inviting home to kick back and savor the kitchen’s prowess.

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Cheers to Vegetarian Awareness Month: Beyond the Salad + Sides at Saha in San Francisco

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As we bid adieu to Vegetarian Awareness Month — it’s been a good ol’ plant-filled time — we leave you with the message that it’s a big vegan-friendly world out there. Everywhere we look there are restaurants going plant-forward, with restaurants that showcase the most delicious of vegetarian and vegan cooking regardless of the meat on their menus.

Here in San Francisco at OpenTable HQ, we needn’t look far for unusual examples of the way in which what was once an alternative style of cooking and eating have merged with the culinary mainstream. Just blocks from our offices, a restaurant that was featured on our Top Vegetarian and Vegan-Friendly dining list, is the perfect example of how numerous different cuisine types lend themselves creatively to meatless dining.

And, as we recently discovered, some of the most innovative stuff is happening a stone’s throw away. At Saha, an Arabic fusion restaurant located in the Hotel Carlton on Sutter Street in the Lower Nob Hill neighborhood of San Francisco, Mohamed Aboghanem offers a style of cooking all his own, where he rethinks traditional Yemenese, Middle Eastern and North African fusion in a healthier, beautifully presented, local ingredient-driven style.

“People come to [Saha] because, especially if you are vegetarian, you feel like you have equal rights with the carnivores,” says the chef-owner who trained at the Cordon Bleu. “Half of the menu is vegan and gluten-free.”

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Dietary designations aside, his food is full of flavor, coaxed from spices of all kinds (turmeric, ginger, cayenne, all spice, cumin, sumac, and za’atar, to name a few), unusual beans and grains, and organic produce. Soy is scarce; alternative flours like garbanzo flour (naturally gluten-free) are not. Take the vegan knaffe (pictured): a vegan shredded phyllo with vegan cream cheese and wild mushrooms baked in a ramekin and served over coconut chermoulah chipotle sauce. No deprivation there.Continue Reading

San Francisco 2016 Michelin-Starred Restaurants: Book a Table Today!

Al's Place reservations

OpenTable is pleased to highlight the honorees in the MICHELIN Guide San Francisco 2016. Fifty restaurants are included, with five Bay Area restaurants receiving the Michelin three-star level, the highest recognition in the culinary world, and seven achieving two Michelin stars. Thirty-eight restaurants earned one Michelin star. Al’s Place and Kin Khao, among others, are new to the list.

Being included in the respected MICHELIN Guide is a sign of excellence and quality. In the U.S., New York is one of only three cities where Michelin publishes an annual guide. The others are Chicago and New York. The MICHELIN Guide New York 2016 was published on October 1, and the MICHELIN Guide Chicago 2016 will be released on October 28.

Congratulations to all the San Francisco 2016 Michelin-starred restaurants, including:

Three Stars: Benu, The French LaundryManresa, The Restaurant at Meadowood, and Saison.

Two Stars: AcquerelloAtelier Crenn, Campton Place, Coi, Commis, and Quince.Continue Reading

Inside Vedge + V Street: Kate Jacoby + Rich Landau’s Honest, Feel-Good #VegForward Food

OpenTable_Vedge_VStreet-16-flippedLast week, in honor of Vegetarian Awareness Month, we unveiled the 52 Best Restaurants for Vegetarians in America. No conversation about plant-based dining could be complete without talking about chefs Kate Jacoby and Rich Landau or, rather, talking to them. So, that’s what we did! Read on for a look inside their restaurants Vedge and V Street, with photos from Simon Lewis, and learn about their honest, feel-good #vegforward food that you can believe in.

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In the 1972 film The Heartbreak Kid, after eating a humble Midwestern dinner, Charles Grodin’s Lenny Cantrow, rather absurdly, declares, “There’s no insincerity in those potatoes. There’s no deceit in that cauliflower. This is a totally honest meal. You don’t know what a pleasure it is to sit down in this day and age and eat food you can believe in.”

Flash forward 40-plus years, and the same words might be uttered by anyone who has ever had the pleasure of dining at Vedge (hold the side of absurdity, even from a dyed-in-the-wool New Yorker like Lenny). The award-winning Philadelphia restaurant from chefs Rich Landau and Kate Jacoby has captured the nation’s attention since opening its doors in 2011 with its animal product-free menu that celebrates vegetables in ways both evocative and original.

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The seemingly sudden success of Vedge and its brand of food diners can – and do – believe in, be they omnivores or vegans, is actually a story decades in the making. Philadelphia vegetable lovers are long-familiar with the couple’s popular Horizons restaurant, which had a devoted, cultish following, since it opened, first as Horizons Café inside a health food store, in 1994.

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In the subsequent 20-odd years, appetites have evolved alongside Landau’s cuisine. Jacoby, who teamed up with Landau personally and professionally in 2001, said of their earliest menus, “It was a lot of tofu and seitan — mock meats, mock tuna salad, faux chicken salad. A lot of these playful ‘isms around protein-centric dishes. But that’s what it was back then. You had to start somewhere, and you had to start with something that was familiar to people.”

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As Horizons steadily grew in popularity, there were a few significant culinary climate changes occurring in the U.S. She notes, “In the mid-2000s, people started to really think about where their food was coming from. They wanted to know its origins — who makes it, how organic it is, how local it is. People started to value that.”

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At the same time, tapas and small plates began to captivate diners’ imaginations. “People became much more casual and social with their dining. They wanted to graze and have lots of plates in front of them and lots of variety.” These shifts allowed the couple to then shift their attention away from “a giant piece of vegan protein on a plate” and highlight a single vegetable at a time. They also allowed Jacoby and Landau to fully realize their vision for focusing on and celebrating vegetables, shuttering Horizons to open Vedge.

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“It’s been this kind of beautiful story because everybody loves vegetables. Very few people refuse to eat them. There’s so much diversity in how you prepare them, the colors, the textures, the flavors. And there’s just so much to do when you get your hands on them. It’s really exciting territory.”

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Landau, a self-taught chef who was nominated for a James Beard Award just this year, concurs. “We’re having a pinch-me moment. When people say that Vedge has made a splash on a national level, it’s hard to wrap my head around it. I just go to work and make sure everyone’s good and the food tastes amazing.”

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Speaking of food, Vedge’s menu, and that of the newish restaurant V Street, is modest – and efficient (four guests could easily sample every one of Vedge’s offerings in a single sitting). “We keep our menu small because we like to be really focused on what we’re doing and do it really well,” he says.

With 18 dishes, diners can choose from six options at the veg bar, all of which are cold vegetable charcuterie selections. There are six hot, bigger-than-an-appetizer-yet-smaller-than-an-entrée kitchen plates, and their signature dirt list, a collection of freshly sown, at-the-moment farm vegetables. “We try to turn them into these whacky side dishes, doing things people haven’t done with them before. That’s our motto: Do something that hasn’t been done.”

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