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The Critics: Please Commence Your Michelin Speculation

Next week, the 2008 San Francisco/Bay Area Michelin Guide will be released. While the impact and relevance of the French guide are questionable here in California, there's no denying that at the very least, the little red book provides the fodder for much debate among chefs and diners alike. Looking at last year's rankings, the Bay's restaurants seemed to fall victim to some type of French sensibility apparently absent outside of Yountville. To recap, Thomas Keller's French Laundry, predictably, was the lone recipient of the hallowed trio, an eclectic quartet nabbed a pair of stars, all while the best non-Keller restaurant in the state, Chez Panisse, received a lone star, along with 23 others.

This year's storylines:

1) The most outcry last year involved Chez Panisse and Gary Danko, Zagat's top-rated restaurant for the past six years running. Will either make the jump to two stars?

2) Also surprised/disappointed with a lone star were French stalwarts La Folie and Fleur de Lys, who are pretty much designed to win Michelin stars.

3) Manresa and Cyrus seem to be the only shots to join Keller in the three-star club, but as Bauer pointed out last year, it's virtually impossible to put someone else on equal grounds as The French Laundry.

4) The Michelin guides have long held a certain, ahem, reputation involving restaurants of the Italian genre. Last year, Quince and Acquerello made the cut, but both possess French overtones. Will any of the other myriad excellent Italians in the Bay—Incanto, A16, Oliveto, Delfina—make the cut this year?

5) San Francisco institutions that didn't get any love last year: Zuni Cafe and The Slanted Door. Nothing against bushi-tei and Range, but should they be ranked above chefs Rodgers and Phan?

6) Who will lose stars? Aqua, perchance?

7) How will the newcomers—Coi, Ame, Farina (just kidding)—fare?
· Michelin Guide [Official Site]
· Bay Area stars fail to make Michelin cut [Chron]

Your thoughts and rampant speculation in the comments field, please.

Chez Panisse

1517 Shattuck Avenue, , CA 94709 (510) 548-5525 Visit Website

Zuni Cafe

1658 Market Street, San Francisco, CA 94102 Visit Website

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