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The Michelin guide is out: L.A. gains another two-star restaurant. "Stingy"? "Boring"?

October 20, 2008 | 12:54 pm

Michelin_2The 2009 edition of the Michelin guide is out (it hits the store shelves Tuesday), and the "big news" is that Providence restaurant in Hollywood has been added to the list of L.A.'s two-star restaurants.

Providence received one star last year in the debut edition of the Michelin guide for Los Angeles (criticized by the likes of former Times Food section editor Leslie Brenner and LA Weekly's Jonathan Gold). 

Providence now joins the ranks of Mélisse, Spago and Urasawa, which each received two stars last year and retained their stars this year. Still no three-star restaurants in L.A. This year, Hatfield's, Bastide, Osteria Mozza and Sushi Zo each get one star (they weren't on the one-star list last year).

"Seems a little bit stingy, doesn't it?" says Times restaurant critic S. Irene Virbila. "The Michelin guide has been very cautious with Los Angeles."

Should Lucques have been on the list of one-stars? "Definitely, yes."

Says LA Weekly restaurant critic Gold: "I got worked up over last year's Michelin list, but this year's, substantially identical to the last, is just boring."

This year, the Michelin inspectors cast their net wider; they made it out to the San Gabriel Valley. The number of Chinese restaurants now listed in the guide nearly triples, up to 11 from four last year. "Eastside" Chinese restaurants that are now in the guide: Din Tai Fung, Elite, (erstwhile) Green Village, Lu Din Gee Cafe, Mission 261, Phoenix Inn and Triumphal Palace. The number of Thai restaurants in the guide has more than doubled to seven.

The roster of "Asian (and token Mexican) places they added smacks less of sincere exploration than it does like a list of Chowhound consensus favorites," Gold says. "261 is gorgeous, but the cooking is a mere husk of what it used to be.... Phoenix Inn isn't bad, but the inclusion is just random."

Michelin also has added its "Bib Gourmand" category to the L.A. guide, referring to featured restaurants that serve a meal (two dishes and a glass of wine or dessert) for $40 or less. Has anyone made it out of A.O.C. for less than $40?

Here's the list of starred and "Bib Gourmand" restaurants:

Two stars
Mélisse
Providence
Spago
Urasawa

One star
Asanebo
Bastide
Cut
The Dining Room at the Langham
Gordon Ramsay at the London
Hatfield's
La Botte
Mori Sushi
Ortolan
Osteria Mozza
Patina
Sona
Sushi Zo
Trattoria Tre Venezie
Valentino
Water Grill

"Bib Gourmand"
Angelini Osteria
A.O.C.
Babita
Bistro 561
Border Grill
Cholada
Ciudad
Cru
Elite
Fraiche
Girasole
Honda-Ya
Il Pastaio
Ita-Cho
Izayoi
Katsu-Ya (Studio City)
K-Zo
Literati II
Lu Din Gee Cafe
Melrose Bar & Grill
Nook Bistro
Pizzeria Mozza
Rustic Canyon
Triumphal Palace
Typhoon
Violet (closed)

-- Betty Hallock

Photo credit: Book cover, Michelin

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