by Amille Bottom
photo by Ece Yavuz
Picture this: summer vacation has arrived, your trip to Europe has been booked for months, and you have a reservation at the hottest restaurant in town. You’ve counted pennies saving up for what’s supposed to be the most delicious meal of your life—but then you’re served one bite of some sort of puree with a squirt of foam on top.
While some enjoy the delicacies that grace the plates of these esteemed businesses, it can be disappointing and frustrating to commit to a $300 meal only to be served something vaguely unappetizing and smaller than a one McDonalds’s french fry.
So what makes these restaurants worthy of a Michelin star? In fact, what is a Michelin star? According to The International Culinary Center, criteria for the awarding of Michelin stars are as-follows:
“One star: The restaurant is considered very good in its category but is limited in some way. This restaurant has a quality menu and prepares cuisine to a consistently high standard, but it may lack a unique element that would bring people back over and over again.
Two stars: The restaurant has excellent cuisine delivered in a unique way. This restaurant has something exceptional to offer and is worth a detour to visit while traveling.
Three stars: The restaurant has exceptional cuisine and is worth a special trip just to visit. Rather than being a stop on the way to a destination, this restaurant is the destination. This restaurant serves distinct dishes that are executed to perfection.”
The awarding of even one Michelin star is a huge deal. Inspectors of restaurants are sworn to secrecy and must remain anonymous at all times. But is the food really that good? It seems to be that more and more Michelin star restaurants are morphing into institutions focused less on amazing food and more on weird food. Gone are the days of an insanely delectable pasta and here are the times of seaweed foam served on an apple puree and topped with a sliver of pickled salmon belly (I made that up, but it sounds like it could be a thing).
All of this being said, the good Michelin star restaurants are really, really good. There’s a reason people plan whole vacations around eating one dish, and they can be a great treat while vacationing, as a “treat-yourself” type of moment.
Tamarind, located in London, is the first Indian restaurant in the city to have been awarded a Michelin star. Located in the heart of Mayfair, the restaurant serves up delicately flavored dishes that still pack a punch. What makes this restaurant the most special is that the kitchen is entirely open and available for viewing while one dines—there’s something about watching a chef create masterpieces before your eyes that makes the food that much more delicious.
Hawker Chan, located in Singapore, is a great way to grab a Michelin-star bite for less money. It was one of the first hawker stalls bestowed with the prestigious award, but it had devoted fans far before the guide gave it a look. For a simple and delicious meal, stop here! Of course, that’s only if you find yourself in Singapore.
While no Michelin-star eateries exist in Boston (yet), there are quite a few in New York state, only a short drive or train ride away. The top 2020 additions for a more casual and comfort-food feel include Eugene’s Diner and Bar and Mission Taqueria.
Michelin-star restaurants aren’t affordable for everyone, but they can be a fantastic treat for special occasions. Going with friends and sharing a few select dishes is also a great way to beat the cost. Happy feasting!