Reading: Michelin Red Guide New York
The Michelin Red Guides are considered to be bibles for dining and hotels throughout many European countries - France in particular of course, but also in the U.K., Germany, and other places. Their first North American edition is out now, for - where else - New York City. I picked it up a couple of weeks ago when I was in New York, and I've had a chance finally to peruse it thoroughly.
I have to say I'm quite disappointed.
For one thing, there is a glaring mistake: it states that Sushi Ann, the sushi restaurant that occupies the premises that were previously Sushisay New York, on East 51st Street near Park Avenue, is run by the same people that used to run Sushisay This is quite untrue. I know this since my mother used to run Sushisay and she's retired to a quiet life of knitting lessons and latin dance aerobics in Yokohama. (Tsukiji Sushisei, the Tokyo-based sushi chain company was the sole owner of Sushisay New York - it wasn't a franchise in the McDonald's sense - and it sold the remainder of the lease and the fixtures to the current owners. There's no relationship whatsoever left between Sushisei and the current ownership. That doesn't mean Sushi Ann is a bad restaurant - I've never tried it myself so I can't comment.)
This kind of factual mistake in this type of book sort of makes me dubious about the whole thing. However, this isn't the main reason why I'm disappointed. There is just too much emphasis on French restaurants. Given that Michelin is a French company, and presumably those famous anonymous reviewers are French, perhaps I should not be surprised at this. But it's just too unbalanced. 3 of the 4 3-star restaurants are French: the venerable Le Bernadin, Jean-Georges (which is admittedly sort of fusion-nouveau-French), and god forbid, Alain Ducasse. I'm not saying that Alain Ducasse does not deserve 3 stars but it sort of smacks of the Michelin reviewers saying how superior a home-grown Paris chef is. Lower down the ranks also more emphasis seems to be placed on French restaurants over other types of cuisine. This may work for France, but in New York where French cuisine is only one of several dozen types of cuisine it just doesn't make much sense.
I'm not even sure if the Michelin stars, so coveted in France (and, if you believe the hype surrounding people like Gordon Ramsay in the U.K., in some other European regions too) would reallly be worth that much in the NYC restaurant scene... or whether for instance being in the Top 50 of the Zagats Survey, being chosen Best of by New York Magazine, or getting a starred review in the New York Times, might be more highly regarded. As a matter of fact ...why is there a need for a Michelin Red Guide for NYC anyway?
The Michelin Red guides aren't too usable for Italy either, come to think of it....