Have You Ever Eaten At A Michelin-Star Restaurant? What Was It Like?

I never have, largely due to a) lack of funds, and b) lack of interest (some of the best food I’ve ever eaten has come from holes-in-the-wall, not from opulent Parisian dining rooms). The day may yet come when I decide to eat at one, if I’m in the area (I have family in Modesto, so the French Laundry may one day happen), but for now, it’s just not a thing that interests me.

So fellow Dopers, have you ever eaten beneath one or more Michelin stars?

The great majority of my traveling has been in the US and not to NYC, San Francisco, or LA, and I tend to prefer a more low-brow experience at home in DC so I’ve not encountered many Michelin-reviewed restaurants.

The best restaurant I’ve ever eaten at was Restaurant August in New Orleans. It was very much what I believe a Michelin-worthy dining experience to be like: super-attentive, personalized service, what I perceived to be way too much silverware and glasses on the table for two people, complimentary amuse-bouches between courses, little piles of ridiculously delicious food artfully arranged on gigantic plates with matched wines and a lot of explanation of everything, and a check that I paid without even looking at because I didn’t want to know what it all cost, at that moment.

It was either a three-star or four-star at the time (it moved up and down depending on whether the chef made a mistake with his experimental entrees.)

More than the food - which was excellent - I remember the service. Totally unobtrusive but always there. Finish your salad and the plate would simply disappear. Sip your water and the glass magically refills. Drop your fork or napkin, and another one is silently placed on your table. Each course followed the previous one seamlessly, exactly on schedule. Even the crumbs you can’t see get brushed off. Imagine that at every table throughout the entire restaurant, all night long, day in, day out. Throw in a humongous wine list and a broad selection of equally delicious meat, poultry, and fish (one year they dropped a star because of there weren’t enough vegetarian entrees) and you start to figure out how hard it is to get the extra stars.

I was going to say no but then you informed me that French Laundry is a Michelin-starred restaurant. My wife and I went there with another couple. They arranged it when we were in Napa We had a wonderful meal. I guess the best I can say is that I’ve never knowingly eaten at a Michelin-starred restaurant though I had read about it and knew it was widely admired.

I also went to the Inn at Little Washington before they got their stars. I remember the service being very friendly and accommodating without being “fussy” or snobby. They knew you trekked all the way out there for a special meal but they made you feel comfortable when you arrived. I’ve had a similar experience at many other restaurants but never one where people are making a pilgrimage to get food.

I’m not sure if there are any others.

Michelin only goes to three stars.

I have eaten at the Inn at Little Washington, which I believe is a Michelin 2 star restaurant. The food was amazing and so was the service, but the nicest thing about it is that it wasn’t at all pretentious. The staff are very warm and engaging. You never notice them until the second you realize you want something and poof! the waiter is standing right there. Whatever you ask for, they treat it like it’s the best idea in the world, “a grilled cheese sandwich and raw broccoli? Excellent choice. May I suggest you consider the fish? No? I’ll be right back with your sandwich and the cheese doodle appetizers you asked for.” The next day we were walking our dog and ran in to our waiter who was on his way to check on his deer blind, just a regular working class guy who took his job very seriously.

Did you go back to see if fresh venison was on the menu the next day?

I worked at a restaurant where the chef/owner would regularly put venison on the menu in the fall and early winter that he had culled off the large properties of his rich clientele, whom were allowing him hunting privileges because they viewed the deer as a nuisance, and then they unknowingly consumed said deer at his restaurant. It was brilliant.

He kept a couple of frozen Axis deer carcasses that he had purchased from a purveyor that were farm raised in his deep freezer to circumvent the health department should they have asked, though they never did.

i recall one day asking him about it and he said something like “It’s such bullshit with the FDA. In France the chef can bag pheasants and put them on his menu that night. How are these meat inspectors going to know better what was good venison than I would, a culinary school trained successful chef and avid bow hunter?”.

I agreed with him, kept his secret and ate his venison, which was absolutely delicious.

How cruel to keep them so cold all their lives! :eek:

Thirty years ago in college, we often went to the Sunday lunch buffet at an Indian restaurant in Albany, NY. One day, as we’re eating, the white guy who was refilling our water glasses asked us how the goat curry was and then mentioned that it was still alive when he came to work that morning.

Two, I believe. Both were one star, delicious, and had tables too close together. Apparently both have since lost the star.

This has been my experience as well. You might get just as good food elsewhere, but at an M-star restaurant the service is going to be perfect, the table linens crisp, and the music unobtrusive.

Tiring. bDOOM kssh

I worked at a one-star one in Scotland briefly in the late 90s as a kitchen porter (fancy word for clean-up boy, though I also did some very basic prep, too.) And, on my last day, I did get to eat there while accompanying a lovely lass from Cornwall who was interviewing there for a managerial position of some sort. The food was great, the service was on-point (and I don’t think it was any different from any other customer), all-in-all, a five-star experience. kunilou’s description matches mine.

ETA: Oh, wait, looking at the Chicago list of Michelin-starred restaurants, I guess I’ve been at a number of them, even though I rarely eat “fancy.” Schwa, Spiaggia, Topolabambo, Longman and Eagle. The experience ranges. A lot of those places aren’t necessarily what you would think of when you think of really fancy food. Longman and Eagle, which doesn’t have a star this year but had one in the past, is basically just a really nice pub with kicked-up food (what one may call a “gastropub.”) Nothing pretentious or snooty about it. Just good food, good drinks.

The one-star Ai Fiori in New York City. I availed myself of the Restaurant Week prix-fixe and yes, I do have to say I was going “damn, I could get used to this”.

I really should take advantage of my DC posting to hit a couple more.

Now, *that *is a story worth retelling.

I’ve dined at Alinea, Boka, Everest, Topolobampo, Bouchon and Peter Luger. There’s probably a couple others who were Michelin star restaurants at some point but lost them and aren’t listed at the site.

I’m not a foodie and to be honest I don’t seek these places out, but when I travel I often splurge one night and these tend to always be reviewed as “can’t miss” affairs. I live in Chicago, but I’m not “in the know” on this stuff so when looking for special occasion places these are the ones that show up when I search. A real foodie would probably call me basic for choosing these places instead of the the super secret edgy stuff that’s out there.

Topolobampo is probably one of my favorite restaurants in the world. If I wanted to show off to an out of towner, this would probably be where I’d take them. It’s great, it’s interesting and not super traditional but it’s by no means “experimental”, which makes it accessible.

Alinea shows up as “the best restaurant in the world” on a ton of lists and I lived like 300 feet from it, so I had to try it. Went with a couple chef friends as well. Ridiculously expensive but honestly probably not a bad value when you factor in all the obvious effort put into every single detail. It’s entirely experimental so each dish is unique in every way, including the plating, presentation and preparation. It’s like dining inside a cartoon/science experiment. As far as the food…I was not thrilled by it. Everything was a foam, puree, gel or vapor and it was all one bite, literally for 22 courses. At the end, I was desperate for something hearty to chew on which never came. I think I got a burrito as a midnight snack that night. There was also a bunch of food I didn’t like, I’m picky and hate truffles, so the organ meats and black truffle everything was not ideal.

Bouchon was amazing and not nearly as fussy as the French Laundry probably is. It was french country food and I think about anyone would have been happy there.

Peter Luger was overrated. Steakhouses in Chicago destroy this place. They get by on reputation and history alone.

Everest is super stuffy…and I hate french food. But if you dig classical fine french dining you would probably love it.

Boka is fantastic. It’s like Alinea dialed back about 80% which is great. It’s sort of an American version of Topolobampo. Interesting and feels like an occasion, but not scary and you can get a tasting menu which runs the gamut.

Anyways. In the grand scheme of things these are just restaurants that each try really hard to be unique. For the most part they succeed. If you really get off on trying new things, you’ll probably be thrilled. If you’re a traditionalist like me and like to stay in your comfort zone, you’ll probably be intimidated by some of the food and unsatisfied. In almost all the cases you’ll walk out with at least a story to tell, which is kind of half the point I think.

The chicken was kinda rubbery.

Yes. A long time ago I shot a job for The Food Channel. We stayed at and shot the show at La Mamounia in Marrakesh.

Two of the restaurants there have Michelin Stars. I dined in the French one. Everything about this place and that meal was memorable.

The entire job was, for many reasons.

I’ve eaten at two, Gordon Ramsay, and Dinner by Heston Blumenthal. They were different experiences.

Gordon Ramsay is a 3 Star and shows it, very fine dining, gentleman to wear jackets, etc. As has been said the service is exceptional. The food was simply amazing. I’m onboard with hidden gems etc, but in toto this was the best meal (food wise) I’ve eaten, my main was a trio of pork, and the pork belly and crackling was quite simply the best I’ve ever had. Apart from your ordered courses, we received I think 3 inter-course bites, a little Amuse-bouche of a mushroom veloute, a palette cleansing sorbet after main, and a couple of other items I can’t recall.

Dinner is a 2 star and is not as formal as Gordon Ramsay, I felt a bit more relaxed here. Service was again fantastic, and a little more casual/friendly. The food was fantastic, and the menu draws inspiration from ancient traditional British dishes, so some exploration of unusual dishes and combinations is on offer. Having said that my main was essentially fancified steak and chips. This was really nice, tender, well cooked steak, but I’ve had better steak.