Michelin Chicago Snubs Achatz’s Next, Demotes L20 Two Stars

Grant Achatz, chef and owner of Alinea, Chicago’s only three-Michelin-starred restaurant, saw his critically acclaimed sophomore effort snubbed today by France’s famous red guide.

L20, which lost its famed chef, Laurent Gras, the day after earning its third Michelin star last year, was demoted to one star. Three restaurants lost their single stars: Crofton on Wells, NoMi and Sixteen at the Trump International Hotel & Tower.

Achatz’s Next, which earned the praise of virtually every major critic when it opened this spring, was overlooked during Michelin’s star selection process. The Fulton Market venue is a permanent pop-up of sorts, changing its menus entirely four times a year. Achatz began with Escoffier’s 1907 Paris, moved to Thailand and is now serving renditions of childhood classics.

Phil Vettel of the Chicago Tribune awarded Next four stars when the restaurant was just 19 days old. Time Out Chicago’s Julia Kramer gave it five out of five stars.

“I ate very well at Next and sometimes simply well, and always more enjoyably than at Alinea,” wrote then-New York Times food critic Sam Sifton.

Rather than making standard reservations over the phone, guests must purchase online tickets to Next and risk losing their investment if they can’t dine on their assigned night.

Demand for tickets to Next was so high that when it opened that it spawned an active secondary market on Craigslist. The restaurant’s Facebook page has 21,702 likes.

‘Almost Flawless’

“Next is shifting some of the burden of fine dining from the restaurant to the diners,” Bloomberg wrote. “Good thing the culinary experience is almost flawless.”

Moto, the avant-garde chemistry experiment of a restaurant run by Homaro Cantu, earned its first star, as did Courtright’s in Willow Springs. Charlie Trotter’s and Ria both retained their two stars.

Under the Michelin ranking system, one star means a very good restaurant in its category, two means excellent and worth a detour and three stars means among the very best restaurants and worth a special journey.

Michelin & Cie., the world’s biggest tire maker, is based in Clermont-Ferrand, France, and has been publishing dining guides for more than a century.

The “Michelin Guide Chicago 2012” goes on sale tomorrow, with copies priced $18.99.

Three Michelin stars:

Two Michelin stars:
Charlie Trotter’s

One Michelin star:
Graham Elliot
Longman & Eagle
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