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Here’s What Matters in the New Michelin Chicago Guide

Another snub for Next—and six more takeaways from the new announcements.

Grace: Two stars for top toque Curtis Duffy.   Photo: Anna Knott

Michelin again? So soon?

The new Chicago gourmet restaurant awards were announced yesterday for the 2014 guide. Here are the only inclusions and exclusions of note.

1 North Pond finally got some respect for its locally sourced, seasonal menu and standout charcuterie—to the tune of one star.

2 Graham Elliot’s namesake restaurant received two stars for its special-occasion, tasting-menu-only precision, but he just announced that he is closing on December 31.

3 The Lobby (Peninsula Hotel) grabbed one star under Lee Wolen, who elevates homey dishes in an airy hotel dining room with his intelligent, modern streak, but he’s outta there mid December.

4 Michelin chooses to not address Next’s regular menu overhauls because they cannot guarantee consistency, but since numerous restaurants undergo extreme makeovers on a regular basis (such as Elizabeth, the only place in Chicago you’ll find foraged food fused with performance art, and the unpretentious-as-it-gets BYOB EL Ideas come to mind), I find it fascinatingly absent from the list. Perhaps the Michelin reviewer couldn’t get a reservation.

5 I haven’t personally eaten at Senza (upscale gluten-free), but members of my dining team have. They report that Senza does it well, and you don’t miss the gluten, but it’s way on the fussy side, “probably what Micheliners like.”

6 Mexique is still in at one star—a nice enough place for French-Mex fusion—but hardly in the same category as Chris Nugent’s understated but beautiful Goosefoot, also one star. Seems to prove that Michelin is stubborn.

7 Two stars went to Avenues when Curtis was the top toque there, and now, his own Grace scores equally well in its first year thanks to his attention to detail and gorgeously plated tasting menus.

The full list of awardees

Three stars
Alinea

Two stars 
Grace
Graham Elliot
L2O
Sixteen 

One star
Acadia
Blackbird
Boka
EL Ideas
Elizabeth
Everest
Goosefoot
The Lobby
Longman & Eagle
Mexique
Moto
Naha
North Pond 
Schwa
Senza 
Sepia
Spiaggia
Takashi
Topolobampo
Tru 

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