For the second straight year, just one Northern California restaurant has received a coveted three-star rating from Michelin Guides.
That again would be The French Laundry at Yountville in Napa Valley, where Thomas Keller practices an intricate version of modern American cookery inspired by French traditionalism. Three stars means "exceptional cuisine, worth a special journey."
Four restaurants anointed with two stars a year ago are hanging on to them - Aqua and Michael Mina in San Francisco, Manresa in Los Gatos, and Cyrus in Healdsburg. Two other restaurants picked up two stars for the first time - Chez TJ in Mountain View and Meadowood, The Restaurant, at St. Helena in Napa Valley. Chez TJ was upgraded from one star a year ago. Meadowood is the year's most dramatic story, moving from no stars last year to two this year. Two stars means "excellent cooking, worth a detour."
This year, 27 restaurants got one star - "a very good restaurant in its category." Most of them were repeats from a year ago. The newcomers are Ame, Coi, Cortez and One Market in San Francisco, Madrona Manor in Healdsburg, Martini House in St. Helena, and Redd in Yountville.
Certain to stir comment in dining circles throughout the North State were the only two restaurants to lose their star, Dry Creek Kitchen in Healdsburg and Bushi-Tei in San Francisco.
The 2008 guide includes 384 restaurants, up from 356 in last year's debut edition. The 2006 version is to go on sale Wednesday for $16.95.