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A guide to the Michelin Guide: part 1

We generally don’t give ratings much power here at Tasty Tufts. But just as every film critic still comments on the Oscars, we feel obligated to put in our two cents about the Michelin Guide. The Michelin Guide still manages to pack in a few surprises and command respect from chefs and diners alike. The guides are published for hotels, travel, and most importantly for us, restaurants. Restaurants are awarded up to three stars or may be acknowledged by being named “Rising Stars” (for being, well, rising stars). Today we’ll take you across the Atlantic by highlighting some innovative restaurants being noticed by the food world in Great Britain and New York. Below, just as we did last year, we examine some of the new Michelin star awardees in the first installment of our Michelin highlights:

GREAT BRITAIN & IRELAND 

It seems apt to go across the pond first given the accidental leak of the Great Britain guide this year a week before the publishing date. Perhaps to undermine accusations of being too French, the Michelin Guide has taken to recognizing some decidedly non-French restaurants, such as Heston Blumenthal’s Hinds Head. Blumenthal is used to accolades for his other ventures such as The Fat Duck (3 Michelin stars) and Dinner, and his more informal gastropub was also recognized this year with one Michelin star. Located in a historic pub and featuring traditional “historically inspired” dishes, Hinds Head has been noted for its oxtail and kidney pudding.

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Another newbie was Dabbous, which recently opened in London. Dabbous has been noted for its informality and Oliver Dabbous’s philosophy of, as he recently told The Telegraph, keeping “prices…low because [he wants] to pass on the savings to…customers.” Industrial-looking decor and an earthy menu seem to sum up the restaurant’s core philosophy.

NEW YORK CITY 

The New York City guide, which is the only guide currently published for a city in the Northeast, featured many of the same restaurants as last year as well as a few debuts. Atera, Matthew Lightner’s TriBeCa restaurant, received two stars. Called a “high-tech nature boy” by the New York Times, Lightner’s culinary experimentation includes razor-clam air baguette and “beet ember,” which features beats roasted overnight (See Pete Wells’ post on the Times’ Dining Journal for excellent descriptions of these and other dishes).

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Another debut this year is Torrisi Italian Specialties. After making a number of changes to the restaurant (which started as a sandwich shop), Torrisi now features a $65 prix fixe menu of antipasti, pasta, an entrée and dessert. Distinctly homey, Torrisi has been noted for its use of fine dining techniques in an unpretentious setting. While not inexpensive, Torrisi represents a step many New York chefs seem to be taking–reintroducing casual fare by bringing a sharper focus on ingredients and technique rather than pretension.

There will always be the Daniels of the world (and we thank the heavens for that), but taking the Guide on a (very slightly) more accessible route allows our college student budgets to let out a sigh of relief. Stay tuned for the next installments of our Guide to the Michelin Guide (how clever are we?) in the coming weeks (next stops: San Francisco and Chicago).

Click here for the full New York City list and here for the Great Britain and Ireland list. 

-Damanpreet Pelia

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