What to know about the new Michelin Guide French restaurants in New York
If some NYC restaurateurs have stars in their eyes this week, it’s not the afterglow of a perfectly cracked crème brûlée. The Michelin Guidethe ultimate restaurant consultant published by French tire manufacturer Michelin, is back in New York…and she’s not here to make friends.
The Michelin Guide awards one to three stars each year to the best restaurants in the world, a single star being a colossal honor. There are currently 72 Michelin-starred restaurants in New York’s five boroughs, most of them concentrated in Manhattan, but a growing number are located in trendy Brooklyn. (Curious to know how a tire company became so linked to the restaurant industry? Learn a little more about the history of the guide here.)
The Red Guide, as the Michelin Guide is commonly called, has kept us on our toes lately by dropping strategic batches of nominees every few weeks. It’s a clever trick to keep the Michelin name in the headlines and to keep foodies guessing which of their favorites will soon become impossible to book.
Historically, the Guide has given preference to French restaurants, although French cuisine has gone out of fashion during the Guide’s 122-year reign. Currently, French cuisine is booming, with New Yorkers loving casual bistro fare in a perfect example of inflation-fueled post-pandemic hedonistic excess. As everyone knows, the quiet stop pairs perfectly with a Cabernet.
So let’s take a look at the winners. Daniel Rose’s white LES tablecloth clings to their solo stars The CuckooDaniel Boulud’s seafood-focused Grand Central restaurant Pavilionand the sustainable veggie-focused dining venue The gardener in the center east. The eponymous restaurant UES de Boulud retains its double distinction Daniel (where, according to Google, “jackets are necessary and expense reports are useful”), and another luxury Frenchy establishment named chef blanc sur blanc, John George. And the three-star status quo was confirmed by Thomas Keller’s In itself, known for its nine-course tasting menu and stunning views of Central Park. Altogether, these six restaurants make it look like someone brought all of New York’s French foodie clientele to come to a party held behind a red velvet Midtown with huge bouncers at the entrance.
The new bomb that enters the Michelin villa is The Bee, an elegantly appointed (but not, heaven forbid, formal) Tribeca establishment serving French dishes with Japanese touches. It is the quintessence of “bistronomy”, or refined bistro meals perfectly organized for a New York clientele, right down to miso-glazed pigeon. The Bee got a star.
There is also the Gourmet Bib Guide, the “affordable” branch of the Michelin Guide. Current restrictions assume you can dine at any Bib recipient and enjoy three courses (or two courses and a drink) for less than $49. That’s before taxes and tip, of course, and even then you cut it pretty close.
Take Amelie, for example, an Upper West Side French wine bar currently on the NYC Bib Gourmand list. Suppose you need to select a mid-range item from the starter, main course, and dessert lists. Try the onion soup ($15), coq au vin ($29) and crêpes Suzettes ($10). You are already at $54. Even if you were to select the cheapest main course option, the Amelie Cheeseburger ($22), the soup and pancakes would set you back exactly $49.
The $49 threshold is a $9 increase from 2021, back when you could expect to pay just $40 at a Bib-awarded restaurant. Even this increase of more than 20% failed to keep up with inflation, as fewer new Bib awards were given, from 30 in 2021 to 18 in 2022. In the New York area, the cost of meals at the restaurant has increased. 10% due to supply chain issues and labor shortages.
However, if you’re willing to spend just over $49 for a Michelin-anointed French meal, there are two options in New York. Besides Amelie (which has both UWS and Greenwich Village locations), there is also Yaki Housea French-Japanese fusion yakitori restaurant located in (gasp!) the Prospect Heights neighborhood of Brooklyn.
Catherine Rickman is a professional writer and Francophile who has lived in Paris, New York and Berlin. She’s currently somewhere in Brooklyn with a fork in one hand and a pen in the other, and you can follow her adventures on Instagram @catrickman.