The MICHELIN Guide Chicago 2011: The Little Red Book Makes a Big Splash in the Windy City.


Mayor Daley, chef Gale Gand and Jean-Luc Naret at the Chicago Cultural Center Celebration of Chicago's First MICHELIN Guide.

Chicago, November 18, 2010.  The first ever MICHELIN Guide to Chicago Restaurants 2011 hits the market today.  It was celebrated at a party last night at the Chicago Cultural Center with local foodies, Mayor Daley, Michelin Guide Director, Jean-Luc Naret and many of the chefs from the restaurants listed in The Guide.  The Chicago MICHELIN Guide weighs in at a slender 344 pages.  This compares to New York's 583 pages and San Francisco's 481 pages--of course they've been around longer.  This first edition offers a selection of 342 restaurants, with 42 different types of cuisine along with 39 hotels.

Newcomer Chicago should be proud with only 93 restaurants ranked worldwide with three stars, Chicago has two--Alinea and L20.  Chicago also has 3, two-star spots with Avenues, Charlie Trotter's and Ria making the cut.  Eighteen more restaurants received the still impressive one-star rating along with 46 restaurants walking away with Bib Gourmand recognition. Having a star rating means not only is a restaurant among the best in its city, but also in the world.  According to Naret, "Chicago chefs are among the world's most creative."

Although there has been some criticism of the Chicago MICHELIN Guide for omitting some spots and over or under rating others plus not having covered enough suburban locations, I think they did very well for the first time out.  I would give the Guide an A-minus overall and definitely plan to use it.

The format of all the guides is similar. All Guides feature detailed maps of restaurant locations that fold out of both the front and end covers.  Inside, the CHICAGO Guide, Section one, simply labeled "Where to Eat" divides Chicago into 14 neighborhoods including: River North, Streeterville, Loop, West Loop (Greektown & Market District), Chinatown & University Village (Pilsen), Gold Coast, Lincoln Park & Old Town, Bucktown & Wicker Park (Ukranian Village, West Town), Humboldt Park & Logan Square (Albany Park, Irving Park, Lakeview & Wrigleyville (Roscoe Village), Andersonville, Edgewater & Uptown (Lincoln Square, Ravenswood) plus a section for the North and Northwestern Suburbs and another for the South, Southwest & Western Suburbs.   This section is the bulk of the book, it tells a little about each neighborhood, then lists selected restaurants in the area plus all pertinent information including a description of restaurant decor, phone, address, hours, websites, affordability, type of food and rankings.  In addition to stars, which comprise only 5% of the restaurants, MICHELIN awards Bib Gourmand symbols for the Inspectors' favorite spots for good value.  Restaurants not receiving stars or Bib Gourmand awards are still ranked with symbols for comfort and service.  Section two of the guide provides detailed descriptions of "Where to Stay."  The final section of the Guide has alphabetical indexes listing restaurants by cuisines, neighborhoods, awards, value (under $25), breakfast and brunch, and late dining.  A list of hotels in alphabetical order is also included.

MICHELIN Guide Director Jean-Luc Naret talks about the debut of the Chicago Guide.
Where to Buy.
The MICHELIN Guide Chicago 2011 lists for $18.99 but can be purchased online at the MICHELIN website for $13.28.  Other places to purchase the Guide include:  Independent bookstores, Barnes and Noble, Books a Million and Amazon.

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    Carole Kuhrt Brewer

    Arts and Entertainment Reporter for media since 1997.

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