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March of the Michelin Stars: The Restaurant at Meadowood Gets a Triplet; Chez Panisse Gets Knocked Off The List

The MICHELIN Guide San Francisco, Bay Area & Wine Country 2011 reveled its more "approachable" Bib Gourmand picks last week, with 29 restaurants added here in the Bay Area and Wine Country. Now today, the tire giant bestows new stars on several lucky local recipients.

After four years as the sole three star restaurant in the area, The French Laundry is joined by The Restaurant at Meadowood in its tier. Coi, Cyrus and Manresa continue to hold down the two star category and 39 restaurants earned a single star this year -- that's up from 34 one-starred wonders in last year's edition. New restaurants with one star are Alexander’s Steakhouse, Applewood, Baumé, Campton Place, Dio Deka, Frances, Madera, Mirepoix, Saison, Spruce and Wakuriya.

Big takeaways follow:

1) The Michelin golden boy in all this is Christopher Kostow, who earned two stars when he was at Chez TJ and now gets his triplet at The Restaurant at Meadowood.

2) After last year's Michelin star shit show down on the Peninsula, today is a happy day for Bruno Chemel, who wasn't exactly in the kindest of situations when he was axed for not earning Chez TJ an additional star last year. Remeber Chemel went on to launch his solo venture Baume. As of today, he has a star to call his own.

3) While new star recipients Saison and Frances aren't exactly shocking, it's interesting that the Cupertino location of Alexander's Steakhouse made the list and its nice to see Ubuntu hang on to its star despite the exodus of Jeremy Fox.

4) The elephants in the room are always those that lost their stars. This year it's kind of a big deal that Chez Panisse lost their star. Other restaurants kicked off the list are Fifth Floor -- not a shocker due to the recent chef shuffle -- Michael Mina -- because of the big move, no doubt -- and, sadly, Range.

Face and director of Michelin Jean Luc Naret, who recently announced he's stepping down, reminds there are 10 total inspectors who travel throughout the year to cover all three U.S. cities with Michelin Guides. A third of the inspectors (so 3.333 people?) call the Bay Area home. "We spend a full year studying this region to produce our Guide and the effort is immensely satisfying," he says. "This is quite simply one of the finest culinary regions in the world."

This year's MICHELIN Guide New York 2011 was introduced Oct. 6. The first ever Chicago guide will be unveiled on November 17th and you can purchase next year's San Francisco guide as soon as tomorrow for $18.99.

The List ("N" denotes a newly starred restaurant):

THREE STARS (exceptional cuisine, worth a special journey)
The French Laundry
The Restaurant at Meadowood (N)

TWO STARS (excellent cuisine, worth a detour)

ONE STAR (a very good restaurant in its category)
Alexander’s Steakhouse (N)
Applewood (N)
Auberge de Soleil
Baumé (N)
Campton Place (N)
Chez TJ
The Dining Room at the Ritz Carlton
Dio Deka (N)
Farmhouse Inn & Restaurant
Fleur de Lys
Frances (N)
Gary Danko
La Folie
La Toque
Madera (N)
Madrona Manor
Mirepoix (N)
Murray Circle
One Market
Plumed Horse
Saison (N)
Spruce (N)
The Village Pub
Wakuriya (N)

· All Previous Michelin Coverage [~ ESF ~]

Chez Panisse

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

The Restaurant at Meadowood

900 Meadowood Lane, , CA 94574 (707) 967-1205 Visit Website