Monday, January 10, 2011

Chicago among world's top dining cities as two restaurants receive three Michelin stars

But it now has a stronger claim than ever before to also satisfy diners with a more sophisticated palate.

The first Michelin guide to the Illinois city, which is published this week, awards the highest grade of three stars to two restaurants – the same total held by San Francisco.

The two top-class establishments, Alinea and L20 – which are both located in the city's Lincoln Park area – join just 91 others around the world to boast the same honour.

In all, 23 restaurants around Chicago were given Michelin stars, propelling it into the guidebook's top 10 world cities by total number for 2011.

It was hailed by Jean-Luc Naret, the director of Michelin, both for its "cheap eats" and "unique level of avant-garde cuisine".

It was selected for a guidebook after Los Angeles was dumped, Mr Naret claiming its residents chose eateries "not based on the number of Michelin stars, but based on the number of stars who go."

Grant Achatz, the 36-year-old chef and co-owner of Alinea, which serves avant-garde American dishes, said he was delighted. "These things come in life very rarely," he said.

Mr Achatz, who once lost his sense of taste while suffering from tongue cancer, won plaudits for his 21-course, $195 (£122) tasting menu, which includes dishes like "hot potato, cold potato soup".

The tasting menu at L20, features 10 courses of Japanese-European delicacies including caramelised sablefish with cilantro, and is priced at $245 (£154).

Rich Melman, who owns L20 as well as two other one-star Chicago restaurants, reacted coolly to his awards. "There is no such thing as a perfect restaurant, one that can't be better," he said.

The chef credited with much of L20's success, Laurent Gras, departed unexpectedly earlier this month and it is thought he will not be returning.

Rick Bayless, a favourite chef of Barack Obama, who lived and built his political base in Chicago before being elected president, was also honoured by Michelin.

Mr Bayless, who cooked a state dinner in Washington for Mr Obama and Felipe Calderón, the Mexican President, received one star for his Mexican-themed restaurant Topolobampo.

View the original article here

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