Michelin, the European tire maker that puts out what's surely the world's most recognized restaurant guide, unveiled its starred selections for France today, and one of the country's most celebrated chefs saw his fortunes change for the worse. Alain Ducasse's Plaza Athénée, which was excluded from the guide last year during its closure for renovations, earned just two stars after reopening, down from the highest rating of three.
The bastion of haute gastronomy adopted a fashionable vegetable and seafood-centric menu upon its relaunch in September. Dinner there remains expensive; three dishes plus cheese and dessert costs 380€ ($430) before wine.
Alain Ducasse's Plaza Athénée earned just two stars after reopening, down from the guide's highest rating of three.
By contrast, the Michelin Men tapped just two new restaurants to enter the three star category this year: Pavilion Ledoyen in Paris and Le Bouitte in Saint-Martin-de-Belleville. Ledoyen also had three stars in 2014, but this year a new chef is at the helm, Yannick Alleno, previously of Le Meurice. La Bouitte, in Savoy, however, was upgraded from two stars; the father and son team of Rene and Maxime Meilleur serve set menus ranging from 115 to 225€ ($130 to $254 USD).
Other new two star selections in this year's guide include: La Grand’ Vigne in Martillac, L'Auberge du Cheval Blanc in Alsace, Le Neuvieme Art in Lyon, Casadelmar in Porto-Vecchio, La Table de Lancaster in Paris, and L'Atelier d'Edmond in Val d'Isere.
The country's overall starred rankings tally remained relatively unchanged in 2015. France now has 26 three-starred restaurants, down from 27 last year; 80 two-starred venues, up from 79; and 503 single-starred spots, down from 503. That's not too shabby when compared with the U.S., which has just 11 three-starred restaurants. Tokyo, incidentally, has 12 three-starred venues, while Western Japan has 14 restaurants holding that coveted rating.
Most of France's biggest players kept their top-tier rankings: Arpege, Guy Savoy, Pierre Gagnaire, L'Astrance, Bras, Troisgros, Paul Bocuse and others all retained three stars each. That's a particularly big development for Bocuse, as 2015 marks the 50th year "without interruption" that his restaurant has held Michelin's highest accolade.
There were, alas, other demotions aside from Ducasse: Both L'Arnsbourg in Baerenthal and La Cote St-Jacques in Joigny were stripped of their three-star titles.
In Michelin parlance, one star means "a very good restaurant in its category," two stars means "excellent cuisine, worth a detour," while three stars indicates "exceptional cuisine, worth a special journey."
See the full release (in French), below: