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Michelin New York Guide Cites Atera’s Rocky Tasting Menu

John Muir’s spirit lives on.

Atera, a naturalistic Tribeca restaurant featuring three-hour tastings of edible rocks, organs, shells and coal, sometimes served on beds of moss or hay, was the sole debut entrant to the two-star category in this year’s Michelin New York City 2013 guide.

Chef Matthew Lightner charges $165 for his 20-plus course tastings at Atera. After wine pairing, tax and tip, dinner for two will cost just under $700.

Lightner “shows a style of cooking that is not only unusual but pretty much unique in New York,” said Michael Ellis, international director for the Michelin Guide, during a phone interview. “Does everything always taste fabulous? Maybe not,” Ellis said, adding that at Atera “you find food that you will not find anywhere else.”

Blanca was the only new Brooklyn entrant into the starred category. The 12-seat Bushwick venue, which began accepting reservations from the public only in August, sells a $180 tasting that includes caviar, truffles and Wagyu, pretty fancy for a place located inside a converted garage.

$79 Chicken

The NoMad, run by Eleven Madison Park’s Daniel Humm and Will Guidara, won a star for a menu that includes a $79 truffle and foie-gras stuffed chicken. And Torrisi Italian Specialties, the high-end red sauce joint that went from walks-ins only to reservations-only in the past year, earned its first star today.

Torrisi charges $160 for a 20-plus course tasting, or $65 for a shorter set menu.

Local food writers have been touting the virtues of Torrisi for years, as well as the pleasures of 15 East, a sushi spot that earned its first star as well today. David Chang’s Momofuku Ssam Bar and Noodle Bar, however, continued their star deficits.

Michelin frequently takes stands at odds with local reviews.

The “guide rouge” awarded a star to Hakkasan in the Theater District, a Chinese restaurant that New York Magazine derided as “Ruby Foo’s for rich people.”

“Hakkasan is less about exposing New Yorkers to traditional Chinese luxuries, than using expensive Western ingredients in vaguely Eastern dishes as a DJ plays club music,” I wrote in my review.

Paper Clips

Pete Wells of the New York Times wrote that Hakkasan’s “prices are too high for extremely restrained portions of food that is, in too many cases, about as interesting as a box of paper clips.”

The Sichuanese Cafe China and Lan Sheng were also new honorees, giving New York a total of three Michelin stars for Chinese restaurants. Jungsik, the high-end import from Seoul, was awarded a star as well.

All of New York’s three-starred restaurants maintained their rankings. They are: The Chef’s Table at Brooklyn Fare, Daniel, Eleven Madison Park, Jean Georges, Le Bernardin, Masa and Per Se.

Besides Atera, the two-starred restaurants include Gordon Ramsay at The London, Corton, Gilt, Marea, Momofuku Ko and Soto.

Kajitsu, which serves shojin cuisine, an ancient style of vegetarian food developed in Japan’s Zen Buddhist monasteries, lost its second star after its star chef left the restaurant.

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.

The New York restaurants awarded stars are:

Three Michelin Stars:
Chef’s Table at Brooklyn Fare
Eleven Madison Park
Jean Georges
Le Bernardin
Per Se

Two Michelin Stars:
Gordon Ramsay at The London
Momofuku Ko

One Michelin Star:
Ai Fiori
A Voce Columbus
A Voce Madison
Blue Hill
The Breslin
Cafe Boulud
Cafe China
Casa Mono
Danny Brown Wine Bar & Kitchen
Del Posto
15 East
Gotham Bar and Grill
Gramercy Tavern
Jewel Bako
Kyo Ya
Lan Sheng
Minetta Tavern
The Modern
Peter Luger
Picholine (Currently Closed)
The River Café
Rouge Tomate
Spotted Pig
Sushi Azabu
Sushi of Gari
Tamarind Tribeca
Tori Shin
Torrisi Italian Specialties

(Ryan Sutton writes about New York City restaurants for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. The opinions expressed are his own.)

Muse highlights include Katya Kazakina and Lili Rosboch on art.

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