Michelin Awards Three Stars to Booze-Free Brooklyn Fare

10/05/2011 11:21:12 AM

Oct. 4 (Bloomberg) -- Chef’s Table at Brooklyn Fare is in the annex of a supermarket. It lacks seat cushions, tablecloths and a liquor license, none of which prevented it from becoming, today, one of just seven New York City restaurants awarded three Michelin stars.

Chef Cesar Ramirez’s venue is the only Brooklyn establishment to earn the highest honor of the “Guide Rouge.” Guests bring their own alcohol and often swap wines with strangers during meals that can last more than three hours.

“Cesar Ramirez is an extremely talented and meticulous chef,” said the editor-in-chief of North America’s Michelin Guides. She declined to give her name, citing her responsibilities as one of the guide’s anonymous inspectors.

“What he does there night after night is very impressive, given that his audience is sitting right in front of him and there’s very little room for error.”

Danny Meyer’s Eleven Madison Park also jumped in the rankings, from one star to three after the restaurant overhauled itself last fall, moving to a prix-fixe-only format of $125 or $195 per person at dinner.

“It’s very rare that you see a restaurant reinvent itself so completely and in such a short amount of time,” the editor said.

Brooklyn Fare, with a set menu of $185, made its debut on the list with two stars last year. Ramirez serves a 25-to-35 course feast to 18 guests every night. He specializes in small, composed bites of raw fish, perhaps scrambled eggs with sea urchin and caviar or a tiny cube of bluefin tuna.

Contrary Positions

Michelin often takes positions opposite that of local food critics. The New York Times awarded Eleven Madison Park four stars in 2009; Michelin countered with just a single star that autumn. Torrisi Italian Specialties is a high-end red-sauce spot that frequently tops local “best of” lists. Michelin disagrees, withholding a star for a second straight year.

SHO Shaun Hergatt, the recipient of somewhat uneven reviews by Bloomberg News and the New York Times, is a new entrant to the two-star category. Earlier in September, the Australian-born Hergatt raised his dinner price by $10 to $85; diners now receive five courses instead of three. L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon was also promoted to two stars.

No Inconsistencies

Terrance Brennan’s Picholine, which recently raised the price of its most expensive tasting menu by $20 to $185, was demoted from two stars to one.

“What we’re always looking for is consistency,” the guide’s editor said, “and in the last few years we haven’t seen that at Picholine.”

David Chang’s Momofuku Ssam Bar and Noodle Bar continued their Michelin deficits, while Korean newcomer Danji was awarded a star.

Michelin’s New York guide, which didn’t award any stars to Indian restaurants last year, now cites three: Junoon, Tamarind Tribeca and Tulsi. Kaiseki cuisine, which involves long and often complex Japanese tasting menus, received two new entrants from Tribeca: David Bouley’s Brushstroke, where meals cost $85 to $135, and Rosanjin, where guests can spend as much as $200 on dinner.

Michael White’s Ai Fiori, the chef’s first foray into French cuisine, earned him a star; he kept his coveted two-spot for Marea, a popular Italian seafood place on Central Park South.

Other new entrants to the one-star category include Heartbreak, a European restaurant in the East Village, and Tori Shin, a yakitori spot on the Upper East Side.

Three stars means exceptional cuisine, worth a special journey; two stars are for excellent cooking, worth a detour; one star denotes a very good restaurant in its category.

Michelin & Cie. is the world’s second-biggest tire maker, after Bridgestone Corp. It produced its first guide in August 1900, distributed free (until 1920) and intended for chauffeurs.

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