Michelin has released its first-ever Chicago restaurant guide, and its allocation of stars is sure to raise a stir in the foodie community.
Two restaurants received the guide's highest honor of three stars: Alinea, the decorated Grant Achatz restaurant in the Lincoln Park neighborhood; and L2O, Laurent Gras's cutting-edge seafood-centered eatery in the same part of town. Only 93 restaurants in the world have won the coveted three-star rating.
Alinea came as no surprise -- the restaurant has won the AAA five-diamond award, and is consistently ranked one of the best restaurants in the world. A weekend reservation usually requires a phone call months in advance.
L2O, on the other hand, is well-known locally, but hasn't won a great deal of wider attention, repeatedly passed over for Beard Awards and the like.
At the same time, none of the rankings were really a surprise.
On Monday, a user on Yelp claimed to have received an advance copy of the Michelin guide, and revealed the entire list of restaurants to receive stars. In reaction to the post, Michelin moved up its official release of the guide from Wednesday to today; its announcement matched perfectly with the Yelp user's leak.
Winning two stars were the Peninsula Hotel's dining room, Avenues; RIA, the restaurant in the Elysian Hotel; and Charlie Trotter's a longtime Chicago standby.
Eighteen restaurants, including Logan Square newcomer Longman & Eagle, Rick Bayless' legendary Topolobampo, and the eponymous Graham Elliot, earned one star.
Perhaps the biggest surprises in the list are the restaurants that were passed over. Most notably, avec, the stunning French-inspired wine bar and eatery in the West Loop, was nowhere to be found. (Its cousin venture, Blackbird, received one star.) The downtown Cafe des Architectes was also passed over by the guide.
46 other restaurants were awarded the Bib Gourmand designation last week, which denotes fine dining at a lower cost -- diners can enjoy two courses and a glass of wine or dessert for $40 or less at Bib Gourmand establishments.
For the complete list of restaurants receiving Michelin stars, click here.