It’s official. Half the 3-star restaurants in America are right here
David Kinch and his much-heralded Los Gatos restaurant, Manresa, will go out on top, with a stellar 3-star rating. Menlo Park’s Madera has again lost its star. Oakland, despite its reputation for cutting-edge cuisine, is still home to just one Michelin-starred restaurant, James Syhabout’s two-star Commis. And Douglas Keane’s relaunched Wine Country restaurant has caught Michelin’s attention again.
On Monday night, the Michelin Guide revealed its 2022 California guide to culinary excellence, and while the stars say the Bay Area still rules the state’s destination-dining scene, Southern California is coming on strong with additions to the guide.
At the live Los Angeles ceremony, the acclaimed San Diego restaurant Addison moved up to the prestigious three-star level, joining the six Bay Area restaurants long honored for what Michelin calls “exceptional cuisine, worth a special journey.” California is now home to seven three-star restaurants, half of the nation’s total of 14.
Seventeen other restaurants joined the Michelin guide at the one-star level, with eight coming from Southern California, six from the Bay Area and two from the Central Coast. One is a Sacramento restaurant, giving that city its second Michelin star.
“California is a culinary powerhouse with a lot of home-grown talent,” Gwendal Poullennec, international director of the Michelin Guides, said Monday before the ceremony, adding that he believes the awards reflect the dynamism in this state.
The guide features praise for 599 California restaurants in categories including exceptional cuisine, good value, sustainability efforts and notable wine lists. A total of 89 restaurants representing 15 cuisines earned the coveted stars. Statewide, there are now seven restaurants with three stars; 12 restaurants retaining their two stars; and 70 one-star honorees.
Besides Manresa and Addison, the other three-star awardees are Dominique Crenn’s Atelier Crenn, Corey Lee’s Benu and Michael Tusk’s Quince, all in San Francisco; Thomas Keller’s The French Laundry, in Yountville; and SingleThread in Healdsburg, from chef Kyle Connaughton and farmer Katina Connaughton.
The Los Gatos stars will be short-lived as Kinch is closing out his 20-year run at Manresa at year’s end. Poullennec congratulated Kinch during the three-star portion of the ceremony, saying, “David, we appreciate your outstanding work and admirable contribution to the industry.”
In response, Kinch praised the chefs and restaurateurs in the crowd for making it through the challenging pandemic years and talked of the diverse California culinary industry’s boundless potential. He added: “You haven’t seen the last from me yet.”
Syhabout’s Commis in Oakland again earned two stars, a rating that signifies “excellent cuisine, worth a detour.” Last year’s two-star list of 14 dropped to 12 with the closure of two previous San Francisco honorees, Coi and Campton Place. The other NorCal and SoCal restaurants maintained their stars.
In the South Bay/Peninsula, George Aviet’s Chez TJ of Mountain View was again awarded with a star; the restaurant has been honored by Michelin for 15 years under a succession of chefs. Christopher Lemerand is currently the top toque in the Victorian house kitchen.
Both the Plumed Horse in Saratoga and the Village Pub in Woodside retained the one-star status they have held since 2009.
The other one-star recipients from this region include Adega in San Jose, Protégé in Palo Alto, Sushi Yoshizumi in San Mateo, Selby’s in Atherton, Sushi Shin in Redwood City and Wakuriya in San Mateo.
There were some notable Bay Area demotions.
Ken Frank’s La Toque, a Napa Valley standout, lost the star it had held for a number of years, as did Madera, the high-end restaurant at the Rosewood Sand Hill in Menlo Park. In 2016, Madera also lost its star, but regained it the next year.
While four San Francisco restaurants joined the ranks of one-star restaurants, four lost their stars. The demotions included SPQR, executive chef Matthew Accarrino’s upscale pasta place, which had received a Michelin star since 2012; Wako, a Japanese restaurant honored five times previously; Mourad, with its modern Moroccan cuisine; and Ju-Ni, which serves an elevated sushi menu.
The one-star newcomers are San Ho Wan, a Korean culinary collaboration with Corey Lee; Nisei, with a contemporary Japanese menu; Ssal, which serves a Korean tasting menu, and Osito, a contemporary live-fire concept.
As with all changes in star levels, Michelin inspectors — who review anonymously — make no comment regarding deletions from the guide. As per Michelin protocol, they revisit all previous winners and new prospects with five criteria in mind: quality of the meal; harmony of flavors; mastery of technique; personality of the chef and their cuisine; and consistency between each visit.
Among the other highlights:
— Sacramento notched another spot on the one-star list with the addition of Localis, a seasonal restaurant from chef-owner Christopher Barnum-Dann. “The cooking has a clean, modern simplicity,” the Michelin inspectors said, “and the commitment to carefully sourced ingredients is thoroughly Californian.” Localis joins The Kitchen, which retained its Michelin star.
— Keane’s Cyrus, relaunched in Geyserville, won a star for its “impressive, globally accented cuisine.” The restaurant Press in St. Helena is also a newcomer to the one-star list.
— The Central Coast joined the one-star list with Caruso’s, a Cal-Italian standout in Montecito, and The Restaurant at Justin (Winery) in Paso Robles.
— Under executive chef Mark Sullivan, the Bacchus Management Group’s trio of Michelin-honored restaurants — The Village Pub in Woodside, Selby’s in Atherton and Spruce in San Francisco — all retained their one-star rankings.
— Michelin again awarded a star to both of the San Francisco restaurants owned by chef-spouses Stuart Brioza and Nicole Krasinski — State Bird Provisions and The Progress. Cupertino native Brioza (who grew up in Danville) and Los Gatos native Krasinski met at De Anza College in Cupertino, then headed to the Midwest to further their culinary careers before coming back to the Bay Area.