Kerstin Kühn: California welcomes new three star restaurant

The  Staff Canteen
In her latest feature, LA-based food writer Kerstin Kühn looks in more detail at the 2016 Michelin Guide for Northern California.   California earlier this month welcomed one new three-star, and two new two-star restaurants, as the 2016 Michelin guide to San Francisco Bay Area and Wine Country was released. Michelin made the official announcement at a gala event in San Francisco, which saw industry heavyweights, including Thomas Keller (The French Laundry), Christopher Kostow (Restaurant at Meadowood), Dominique Crenn (Atelier Crenn) and Michael Judge (Saison), gather to celebrate the guide’s new additions. Manresa.DavidKinch.CREDIT Eric WolfingerDavid Kinch’s Manresa in Los Gatos in the Santa Cruz Mountains, about 60 miles south of San Francisco, joined the French Laundry and the Restaurant at Meadowood in Napa Valley, as well as Benu and Saison in San Francisco, in California’s three-star echelon. Manresa reopened at the beginning of this year following a six-month closure after a devastating fire destroyed much of the restaurant. At the time of the reopening Kinch said that one of the silver linings of the disaster had been that it had given him and his team the opportunity to be introspective and revisit and re-evaluate things. Following the reopening Manresa appointed former three-star Grace and Saison sous chef Mitch Lienhard as chef de cuisine and tweaked “a lot of little things” to become more efficient.

>>>See Kerstin's interview with David here

And it paid off. Speaking to me exclusively for this article, Michelin’s head inspector for the US said: “It's difficult to identify one specific improvement [at Manresa] as rather it was a matter of all the pieces of a very intricate puzzle coming together. Chef Kinch has always been brilliant, but the creativity wasn't always as solidly impressive as we have noticed of late. The meals experienced over the past year were the most consistent display of excellence thus far and there is no question this team has continued its upward trajectory after many years of focused creative evolution.” 41kb1NheO6L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_Michelin also promoted two restaurants to two stars this year. They were Campton Place at the Taj Hotel in San Francisco’s Financial District, where chef Srijith Gopinathan serves a menu of Indian and South Asian influences, which “over-deliver on taste and flavour”; and Commis, the first two-star restaurant in Oakland, where James Syhabout delivers “elegant and creatively complex seasonal dishes”. California now has a total of seven two-star restaurants. Fifteen restaurants celebrated winning their first Michelin star, including Mourad Lahlou’s eponymous Moroccan eatery Mourad, Melissa Perello’s Octavia, former pop-up The Lazy Bear and Kin Khao, a Thai Bib Gourmand that went up one star. Other newcomers include All-Spice, Al’s Place, Aster, Californios, Commonwealth, Lord Stanley, Nico, Omakase, Rasa, Sushi Yoshizumi and Wako. Commenting on Northern California’s dining scene, Michelin’s US head inspector said it is “quite different from New York or Chicago, and substantially different from Southern California”, including Los Angeles. “Northern California has a very distinctive culinary expression that is of course very product-driven, which is notable in that it is reflected across all cuisine types. In addition the respect for product is so intense and intrinsic to the cooking in Northern California that the level of respect and appreciation comes through in an entirely unique style.”

The full list of Michelin stars in San Francisco Bay Area and Wine Country:

Three stars: Benu, San Francisco The French Laundry, Wine Country Manresa, South Bay The Restaurant at Meadowood, Wine Country Saison, San Francisco Two stars: Acquerello, San Francisco Atelier Crenn, San Francisco Baumé, South Bay Campton Place, San Francisco Coi, San Francisco Commis, East Bay Quince, San Francisco One star: All Spice, San Francisco Al’s Place, San Francisco Ame, San Francisco Aster, San Francisco Auberge du Soleil, Wine Country Aziza, San Francisco Bouchon, Wine Country Californios, San Francisco Chez TJ, South Bay Commonwealth, San Francisco Farmhouse Inn & Restaurant, Wine Country Gary Danko, San Francisco Keiko à Nob Hill, San Francisco Kin Khao, San Francisco Kusakabe, San Francisco La Toque, Wine Country Lazy Bear, San Francisco Lord Stanley, San Francisco Luce, San Francisco Madrona Manor, Wine Country Michael Mina, San Francisco Mourad, San Francisco Nico, San Francisco Octavia, San Francisco Omakase, San Francisco Plumed Horse, South Bay Rasa, Peninsula Solbar Wine, Napa Valley Sons & Daughters, San Francisco SPQR, San Francisco Spruce, San Francisco State Bird Provisions, San Francisco Sushi Yoshizumi, Peninsula Terra, Wine Country Terrapin Creek, Wine Country The Village Pub, Peninsula Wako, San Francisco Wakuriya, Peninsula Kerstin_KuhnKerstin Kühn is a freelance food and travel writer, specialising in restaurant and chef stories. The former restaurant editor of Caterer and Hotelkeeper, she relocated from London to Los Angeles in 2013, where she lives on the city’s trendy East Side. With a vast network of chefs from around the world, Kerstin has profiled the likes of Michel Roux, Heston Blumenthal, Thomas Keller, Daniel Boulud, the Roca brothers and Massimo Bottura. She is a regular contributor to the World’s 50 Best Restaurants, FOUR Magazine, M&C Report and Spinney’s Food, and also writes her own blog, La Goulue. You can follow Kerstin on Twitter @LaGoulue_ >>>Read more of Kerstin's blogs here.
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The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 29th October 2015

Kerstin Kühn: California welcomes new three star restaurant