Michelin Guide announces restaurants for its first Florida edition

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Four Orlando restaurants awarded stars

Tesar Michelin

L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon in Miami was the only restaurant to be awarded two stars in Michelin Guide’s first Florida edition, which includes restaurants in Orlando, Miami and Tampa. Fourteen restaurants, including four in Orlando, received one-star ratings; none were honored with the guide’s ultimate three-star designation. No Tampa restaurants received a star.

The announcement was made Thursday evening at the Ritz-Carlton Orlando, home of Knife & Spoon, one of the area’s newly starred stars. Also earning the single star were Capa, the steakhouse at the Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Walt Disney World, and two of Central Florida’s celebrated omakase restaurants, Kadence and Soseki.

Seven area restaurants were given the Bib Gourmand designation, which, according to the guide, represents “great food at a great value.” (The criteria for Bib Gourmand, which is named for Bibendum, the official name of the puffy Michelin Man mascot, includes being able to have two courses and a glass of wine or dessert for under $49, something one wonders is still possible.) Orlando’s Bib Gourmands are:

  • Bombay Street Kitchen
  • Domu
  • Papa Llama
  • The Ravenous Pig
  • Strand
  • Swine & Sons
  • Z Asian

John Tesar, pictured at top, center, with chef de cuisine Gerald Sombright,right, the Dallas-based chef who created Knife & Spoon, was ebullient after the announcement. He said that Dallas and Orlando were the two hardest places he could choose to make it, and the Michelin award was a validation that he had made it. 

Besides the starred restaurants and Bib Gourmands, the guide will mention 23 “recommended” restaurants in the Orlando area. They are:

  • Four Flamingos, A Richard Blais Florida Kitchen
  • Sear + Sea
  • Morimoto Asia
  • California Grill
  • Citricos
  • Black Rooster Taqueria
  • Ravello
  • Pizza Bruno
  • Selam Ethiopian & Eritrean
  • Bacán
  • Primo
  • The Polite Pig
  • The Pinery
  • Maxine’s on Shine
  • Shin Jung
  • Hawkers
  • Tori Tori
  • Sticky Rice
  • Kabooki Sushi
  • Se7en Bites
  • Orlando Meats
  • Kai Asian Street Fare
  • Prato

Two special awards were also announced Thursday: Sommelier or the Year, Victoria James of Cote Miami; and Exceptional Cocktail Award, Ruben Rolon, Jardinier and L’Atelier, Miami.

L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon also has locations in Paris (2), New York, Tokyo, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Taipei and Las Vegas (so...a chain restaurant?). All have multiple stars with the exception, curiously, of the two Paris locations, which each have one star.

The guide was started 120 years ago, in France, by the Michelin tire company to offer handy information to motorists. Unlike the James Beard Foundation Awards, Michelin Guide restaurants are visited by inspectors who grade a restaurant's cuisine based on set criteria. It isn’t conceivable that the inspectors could visit all restaurants. And they certainly couldn’t visit a restaurant not currently open, which explains the absence from the list of Victoria & Albert’s, which would surely be a candidate for multiple stars.

Still, some restaurants that did receive mentions might raise an eyebrow, and others left off the lists might raise the other one.

Who were you glad to see recognized and which restaurants do you think should have been named?

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