October 2, 2006
The French Laundry: Three Stars

The eagerly anticipated Michelin Guide's first appraisal of restaurants in the San Francisco Bay Area and Northern California wine regions won't be released until Wednesday, but the key findings are in.

Only one of the 356 restaurants visited by Michelin's anonymous inspectors is getting the most coveted three stars. That's The French Laundry in Yountville in the Napa Valley. Three stars means "exceptional cuisine, worth a special journey."

Four restaurants are getting two stars - Michael Mina and Aqua in San Francisco, Manresa in Los Gatos, and Cyrus in Healdsburg. Two stars means "excellent cooking, worth a detour."

The 23 restaurants to get one star include Fleur de Lys, Acquerello, Gary Danko, Boulevard and Masa's in San Francisco, Chez Panisse in Berkeley, Bistro Jeanty and Bouchon in Yountville, La Toque in Rutherford, Dry Creek Kitchen in Healdsburg, and Farmhouse Inn & Restaurant in Forestville. One star means "a very good restaurant in its category." Interestingly, of the 23 just 12 are in San Francisco.

Stars are awarded only for the quality of the cuisine, specifically the quality of the products used, the mastering of flavors and cooking, the "personality" of the cuisine, the value for money, and consistency.

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