After two decades, Jean-Georges was downgraded for the first time
Jean-Georges — widely considered one of New York’s best French spots since it opened two decades ago — is no longer one of the world’s finest restaurants, according to the Michelin Guide.
The anonymous inspectors at France’s most famous restaurant guide have demoted the Central Park West establishment, located in the Trump International Hotel & Tower, to its second-highest rating of two stars. It had held the top honor of three stars since 2006, the guide’s inaugural year in the U.S.
Michelin awarded seven restaurants new stars in its 2018 New York guide, but the demotion of chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s flagship, famous for fusing French cuisine with Asian ingredients, is by far the biggest news.
“It was a difficult decision for us to make,” Michelin guide director Michael Ellis says in a phone interview. “Unfortunately, we saw a slow glide downward. It started off with small things … and it didn’t get any better. It was kind of on cruise control.”
“Our hope is that he’ll be able to get that third star back very quickly,” Ellis adds.
On the Demotion Process: Inspectors made up to 10 visits to Jean-Georges over the course of 18 months, according to Ellis. He said Michelin called Vongerichten in July and shared its findings. The purpose of that conversation, which Ellis says is a common Michelin practice, is to provide feedback and give the restaurant a chance to fix its issues before the guide closes.
The downgrade effectively confirms that New York is no longer the country’s fine dining capital in the eyes of Michelin.
Only five local restaurants — Per Se, Le Bernardin, Masa, Brooklyn Fare, and Eleven Madison Park — now hold the guide’s highest honor of three stars, compared with seven in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Michelin upgraded just a single restaurant to the two star category this year: Ginza Onodera. The Tokyo-based chain, which held a single star last year, is the city’s second priciest sushi spot, with dinner menus at $300 and $400, service-included.
The inclusion of Ginza and others will give fresh ammunition to those who argue that Michelin leans heavily, perhaps too heavily, on expensive Japanese, European, and New American venues. Four of the seven new stars, including Suzuki ($75-$180), Bar Uchu ($200), and Sushi Amane ($250), are spendy sushi or kaiseki spots, a style of dining in which Manhattan has been experiencing a boom.
Approximately 20 percent of the New York’s guide’s starred selections are now Japanese.
Two of the new single-starred spots went to European imports: The Clocktower (by Britain’s Jason Atherton), and Rouge Tomate (a spinoff of the Belgian flagship).
Cote, Simon Kim’s Korean-American barbecue spot in Flatiron, is the newest entrant to the starred steakhouse category in New York. The only other two members of that group are Peter Luger and Minetta Tavern. This critic awarded three stars to Cote earlier in the fall, praising the venue for its extra dry-aged beef and accessible, $45 set menu.
Michelin is famous for not seeing eye-to-eye with local reviewers on some of the year’s biggest openings. True to form, the inspectors opted against awarding a star to The Grill, the theatrical midcentury chophouse that constitutes half of Major Food Group’s reboot of the old Four Seasons space. Reviewers, including this one, universally lauded it. The Pool, the other half of the space, also did not receive a star.
None of this year’s newly starred restaurants have female chefs at the helm. Only six of the 72 starred restaurants have women head chefs.
One star means “high quality cooking, worth a stop;” two stars indicates “excellent cooking, worth a detour;” three stars signifies “exceptional cuisine, worth a special journey.” There are just over one hundred restaurants worldwide with three stars.
Here is the full list 2018 of Michelin stars for New York City
Chef’s Table at Brooklyn Fare (relocated to Manhattan)
Eleven Madison Park (retained star post-renovation)
Ginza Onodera (upgraded)
Bar Uchu (new)
The Clocktower (new)
Delaware and Hudson
Gotham Bar and Grill
Rouge Tomate (new)
Sushi Amane (new)
ZZ’s Clam Bar