Berkeley’s most famous restaurant, Chez Panisse, commonly referred to as one of the best restaurants in the country, if not the world, has lost its single Michelin star — unwelcome news for the Alice Waters-owned destination eatery which has held a star since the 2006 launch of the San Francisco Bay Area & Wine Country edition of the esteemed Michelin guide.
“When Alice Waters opened Chez Panisse almost 40 years ago, she intended to create a place where people could come together with friends and family to eat a delicious, thoughtfully prepared meal in beautiful surroundings,” said Mia Morgenstern from the Chez Panisse Foundation. “To this day, that is the restaurant’s highest priority. Although Ms. Waters respects the traditions upon which the Michelin Guide bases its awards, she acknowledges that they aren’t the same traditions upon which Chez Panisse has built its reputation and success over the years.”
Further afield in the region, Napa restaurant The Restaurant at Meadowood has gained one star to join the only other greater Bay Area restaurant with three stars: Thomas Keller’s French Laundry in Yountville.
Three local restaurants are deemed worthy of two stars — they are Coi in San Francisco, Cyrus in Healdsburg and Manresa in Los Gatos.
Update, 20.50: Berkeleysider Antoinette Baranov asks the more than valid question about what criteria Michelin uses to award, and hence to also remove, its stars. Here’s the skinny, from Michelin itself:
Establishments under “star consideration” serve cuisine that is prepared from excellent quality ingredients, display impressive technical skill, and present a balanced menu of clear flavors with a distinct personality; and it is imperative that they do so consistently. In addition to the menu and cuisine, we also scrutinize the beverage program asking ourselves if the wine, cocktail, and/or sake selection enhances the experience and moreover offers something special.
And about those stars:
One Star: A very good restaurant in its own category.
Two Stars: Excellent cooking, worth a detour.
Three Stars: Exceptional cuisine, worth a special journey.One always eats extremely well here, sometimes superbly.