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Michelin Stars Awarded to Bay Area Restaurants for 2012

Few surprises for Wine Country

Terrapin Creek Cafe chef/owners Liya Lin and Andrew Truong of Bodega received their first Michelin star
Terrapin Creek Cafe chef/owners Liya Lin and Andrew Truong of Bodega received their first Michelin star

The nail-biting is over for Bay Area chefs who’ve spent the last several weeks waiting for the call from the reviewers at Michelin.

Late Tuesday afternoon, the 2012 Michelin Guide San Francisco, bay Area & Wine Country announced its 2012 “starred” restaurants for the Bay Area. Long considered among the most prestigious accolades in chefdom, the European dining guides began giving their hard-won stars to restaurants around San Francisco six years ago. Based on the reviews of “famously anonymous” reviewers, the number of restaurants given the star-awards rose from 39 to 47 in 2012 — the highest number yet.

Local Stars: Restaurants receiving Michelin stars in Wine Country
Three Stars:
Restaurant at Meadowood, St. Helena
French Laundry, Yountville
Two Stars:
Cyrus, Healdsburg
One Star:
Applewood, Guerneville
Auberge du Soleil, Rutherford
Bouchon, Yountville
etoile, Yountville
Farmhouse Inn & Restaurant
La Toque: Napa
Madrona Manor: Healdsburg
Redd: Yountville
Sante: Sonoma
Solbar: Calistoga
Terra: St. Helena
Terrapin Creek: Bodega Bay
Ubuntu: Napa

Bay Area Stars

Three Stars
Restaurant at Meadowood, St. Helena
French Laundry, Yountville
Two Stars:
Baume, South Bay
Benu, San Francisco
Coi, San Francisco
Cyrus, Healdsburg
Manresa, South Bay
Saison, San Francisco
One Star
Acquerello, San Francisco
Alexander’s Steakhouse, South Bay
Ame, San Francisco
Applewood, Guerneville
Atelier Crenn, San Francisco
Auberge du Soleil, St. Helena
Aziza, San Francisoc
Bouchon, Yountville
Boulevard, San Francisco
Campton Place, San Francisco
Chez TJ, South Bay
Commis, East Bay
Dio Deka, South Bay
etoile, Yountville
Farmhouse Inn & Restaurant, Forestville
Fleur de Lys, San Francisco
Frances, San Francisco
Gary Danko, San Francisco
La Costanera, Peninsula
La Folie, San Francisco
La Toque, Napa
Luce, San Francisco
Madera, Peninsula
Madrona Manor, Healdsburg
Masa’s, San Francisco
Michael Mina, San Francisco
One Market, San Francisco
Plumed Horse, South Bay
Quince, San Francisco
Redd, Yountville
Sante, Sonoma
Solbar, Calistoga
Sons & Daughters, San Francisco
Spruce, San Francisco
Terra, St. Helena
Terrapin Creek, Bodega Bay
Ubuntu, Napa
Village Pub, Peninsula
Wakuriya, Peninsula

But despite the breathless anticipation, in Wine Country there were few surprises, with all but one of the 2011 winners maintaining their Michelin status. The only newcomer was Bodega Bay’s Terrapin Creek, whose chef/owners Liya Lin and Andrew Truong received their first Michelin star. “We are pleasantly surprised with our Michelin star,”said Truong. “We are very proud of our small staff and grateful for all who have supported us.”

Receiving the highest Michelin honors — three stars — The Restaurant at Meadowood, led by Executive Chef Christopher Kostow and The French Laundry, headed by Thomas Keller. Kostow Tweeted the news to his followers minutes before the Michelin Guide officiall broke the news, saying “Congrats to all the Restaurants earning stars in this years @MichelinGuideSF. My staff and I are honored to be in such esteemed company.” Both have received three stars in previous years. Worldwide, less than 100 restaurants have earned a three-star rating.

Healdsburg’s Cyrus Restaurant received two stars for 2012, it’s sixth year for the honor. “For the last five years I’ve been sitting by the phone like a guy waiting for an invitation to a Sadie Hawkins dance. This year we took the dogs for a walk, and when I got back I saw the missed call,” he said on Tuesday afternoon, after receiving a second call from Michelin to congratulate him. But after five wins, Keane said he’s taking the whole thing in stride. “Last year, for weeks before i was on pins and needles, but last night it only got to me for a moment. I woke up at 4am, but that was it,” he said. “It’s great for morale, and for something to keep striving for as long as you don’t focus on it. they’ve put us on a national level,” said Keane. There were no other Wine Country two-star winners, though the two-star pack rose from three in 2011 to six in 2012 with the addition of Baume (South Bay), Benu(SF) and Saison (SF).

One-star winners in the North Bay included Guerneville’s Applewood Inn, despite the departure of executive chef, Bruce Frieseke nearly six months ago; Farmhouse Restaurant in Forestville; Madrona Manor in Healdsburg, Terrapin Creek of Bodega Bay and Sonoma’s Sante. Napa one-star restaurants were: Auberge du Soleil, Bouchon, etoile, La Toque, Redd, Solbar, Terra and Ubuntu (which will soon close for a winter revamp).

The only Wine Country restaurant that fell off the list was Mirepoix, a one-star winner in 2011 that closed last spring. It’s chef, Matthew Bousquet, now works at Bistro Jeanty in Yountville.

After receiving his late-afternoon phone call from Michelin, Executive Chef Jesse Mallgren of Madrona Manor said he was relieved and honored to receive the award for the fifth year. “It shows you where your restaurant rates in terms of the rest of the world. You grow up hearing stories about Michelin starred restaurants in Europe, and when you’re at them, you always wonder where your restaurant ranks,” Mallgren said when reached by phone.

But both Mallgren and Farmhouse Inn owner Catherine Bartolomei agree that the star carries with it a burden. “If  you lose a star, people would wonder what was wrong. You would doubt what you are doing,” said Mallgren.

“It’s like riding a tiger. There’s a real relief that we got it again,” said Bartolomei of the Forestville restaurant’s sixth time as a one-star Michelin winner. “But it’s such an incredible validation of what what we’re doing. It’s a worldwide validation. When people know you have a star, it tells people you’re doing something right,” she said.

The announcement comes on the heels of the Zagat San Francisco Bay Area Restaurants 2012, released in September and Monday’s announcement of the Michelin “Bib Gourmand” restaurants in the Bay Area — value-priced restaurants worth checking out.

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