Michelin restaurants are restaurants that have received a rating from the Michelin Guide, a prestigious line of guide books that is published on an annual basis. The first Michelin Guide was published in France in 1900 and distributed free to motorists so they could take them along with them on their travels. Since then, however, Michelin has developed into a leading restaurant guide for culinary aficionados, and numerous chefs around the world have made it their goal in life to attain a Michelin star rating. The Michelin Guide collection consists of 25 guidebooks that cover 23 countries and over 45,000 restaurants and hotels.
Michelin restaurants have been inspected thoroughly by anonymous experts, who are professionally trained to evaluate restaurants based on a wide range of criteria. Michelin restaurants are revisited by the inspectors on a regular basis to ensure that they’re still worthy of their rating. Therefore, once a restaurant earns a Michelin star rating, the chef and his staff go great lengths to maintain it because losing a rating would severely affect public opinion about their establishment.
The Michelin rating system consists of three stars, with three stars being the highest rating a restaurant can attain. Three star Michelin restaurants receive a high amount of exposure because they are thought to offer an exceptional dining experience. Three star Michelin restaurants boast fine wines, fantastic dining, spectacular customer service, and elegant surroundings, but customers must be prepared to pay accordingly for these luxuries.
Two star Michelin restaurants offer excellent cuisine that is worth a detour, with specialty dishes and wines of first class quality. One star Michelin restaurants are considered worth a stop on your journey because they offer very good cuisine in a pleasant dining environment. Other ratings that the Michelin Guide use include the Bib Gourmand, which is awarded to restaurants that offer good food at affordable prices, and the Rising Star, which is awarded to restaurants that might one day earn a star rating or be offered an additional star.
The Michelin Guide does not offer descriptions of the establishments they rate; they simply provide the restaurants’ addresses and occasionally list the chefs’ specialties. Despite the fact that the Michelin Guide’s rating system is shrouded in mystery, Michelin restaurants have always been highly regarded by the culinary world, as well as the general public. In 2004, London businessman Andy Hayler dined at every single restaurant in the world that had received a three star rating from Michelin.
Only a handful of restaurants in the world ever earn a one star rating from Michelin, and three star Michelin restaurants are even harder to come by. Because of the Michelin Guide’s stringent requirements, Michelin restaurants are highly sought after. The Michelin Guide has also received its fair share of criticism, however. For example, some US critics claim that Michelin’s rating system is biased in favor of French cuisine. Furthermore, other critics claim that Michelin inspectors tend to favor formal restaurants over restaurants that offer fine dining in a casual atmosphere. But overall, Michelin’s rating system is considered reliable and distinguished from its competitors because of its reliance on detailed evaluations by anonymous, professionally-trained inspectors.