Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Michelin vs San Francisco Chronicle vs Yelp

Not so long ago I compared the Michelin starred restaurants in the San Francisco area to other major restaurant guides Zagat, Gayot, Forbes, and AAA.

It got me thinking though, those reviews are most likely from people who are not from the San Francisco Bay Area.  In addition, their review may be only based on going to the restaurant once.  How would Michelin reviews compare to local reviewers who have an opportunity to go multiple times.  So I'm going to compare the Michelin starred restaurants to the reviews from the San Francisco Chronicle.

Then I thought, at the end of the day restaurants have a job to really only please one person, the average customer.  Not reviewers or guides.  So lets also compare to Yelp.

For those who don't know the ranges for the reviews, they are:

Michelin - 1 star to 3 stars
SF Chronicle - 1 to 4 stars, in 1/2 increments
Yelp - 1 to 5 stars in 1/2 increments


Restaurant Michelin SF Yelp
The French Laundry *** 4 4.5
The Restaurant at Meadowood *** 4 4
Atelier Crenn ** 2.5 4.5
Baumé ** 3 4
Benu ** 4 4.5
Coi ** 4 4
Manresa ** 4 4
Quince ** 4 4
Saison ** 4 4.5
Acquerello * 3.5 4.5
All Spice * 2 4.5
Ame * 3 4
Auberge du Soleil * 3 4.5
Aziza * 3.5 4
Bouchon * 3 4
Boulevard * 3 4
Campton Place * 3 4
Chez TJ * 3 3.5
Commis * 2.5 4.5
Farmhouse Inn & Restaurant * 3.5 4.5
Gary Danko * 3.5 4.5
Keiko à Nob Hill * 3 4.5
La Folie * 4 4.5
La Toque * 3 4
Luce * 2.5 3.5
Madera * 3.5
Madrona Manor * 3 4
Michael Mina * 3.5 4
Plumed Horse * 3 4
Solbar * 3 4
Sons & Daughters * 3.5 4
SPQR * 3 4
Spruce * 3.5 4
State Bird Provisions * 3.5 4.5
Terra * 3.5 4
Terrapin Creek * 4.5
The Village Pub * 2.5 4
Wakuriya * 3 4.5


Perhaps the most striking ratings difference is the SF Chronicle's 2.5 rating of Atelier Crenn, which received two Michelin stars.  Other than that, almost every restaurant received atleast a 3 or 3.5 rating from the Chronicle except for Commis and Luce.

For some reason, the SF Chronicle didn't review Madera or Terrapin Creek.  Terrapin Creek is in Bodega Bay, so it's arguably outside of the Chronicle's review range.  However, Madera is right in the heart of Silicon Valley in Menlo Park.  It's odd that it wasn't reviewed.

Yelp seems to be quite consistent in their reviews compared to Michelin, with the exception of Chez TJ, Luce, and Madera falling below 4 stars.  Luce is the only restaurant on this list to receive a Michelin star, but get a relative bad grading from the SF Chronicle and Yelp.  Makes me wonder what the Michelin reviewers saw in Luce that others don't.  Perhaps it's because Dominique Crenn of Atelier Crenn is no longer there?  Perhaps Michelin hasn't gone back enough since she left?

So of course, this comparison isn't complete.  What restaurants did the SF Chronicle consider 3.5 or 4 star restaurant that Michelin didn't give a star to?


Restaurant SF
Chez Panisse 4
Bar Terra 3.5
Bistro Don Giovanni 3.5
Camino 3.5
Chez Panisse Cafe 3.5
Coqueta 3.5
Cotogna 3.5
Erna's Elderberry House 3.5
Etoile 3.5
Farallon 3.5
Nico 3.5
One Market 3.5
Prospect 3.5
Redd 3.5
Rich Table 3.5
Zuni Cafe 3.5

The famed Chez Panisse is the only restaurant to get a 4 out of 4 but not receive a Michelin star.  A number of other former Michelin starred restaurants make an appearance on this list too (One Market, Redd, etoile).  Bar Terra is the extension restaurant from Terra, which makes it sorta Michelin starred already.

One of the criticisms of Michelin is that they don't give out stars to restaurants that are not "fine dining" establishments.  A number of the restaurants here are far more casual and I think strengthen the argument about Michelin's pickiness on casual restaurants.

Erna's Elderberry House is a pretty famous restaurant in Oakhurst, CA, so it may simply be out of the range of Michelin reviewers.  Interestingly enough, of every restaurant listed in this blog post, Erna's Elderberry House is the only restaurant to have a perfect 5/5 on Yelp.

Update: See new post of comparison of Michelin Bib Gourmand vs SF Chronicle vs Yelp

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