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Today, the Michelin Guide released its official list of the 27 California restaurants that have newly earned at least one of its coveted stars. From the California wine country and San Francisco to the Central Coast, Los Angeles to Orange County and San Diego, the lineup offers a range of cuisines that celebrate the agricultural and cultural diversity of the state.
Notably, none of the eateries were given the maximum three-star honor. Each place that made the new California list is considered by official Michelin guidelines to be either “a very good restaurant” (one star) or, at the next level, “excellent cooking that is worth a detour” (two stars).
Two L.A. restaurants won two-star ratings: Brandon Go’s 3-year-old Hayato, in downtown Los Angeles, and chef Josiah Citrin’s Mélisse, in Santa Monica. The former boasts a traditional Japanese, multi-course kaiseki meal while the latter is celebrated for its slow and luxurious atmosphere.
Six L.A. area restaurants earned one star, located in a range of settings.
In Hollywood, the newly single-starred Phenakite, from chef Minh Phan, is in the co-working space Second Home, while multi-course Pasta|Bar, set in a strip mall in Encino, uses classic California ingredients to reimagine Italian staples: a cavatelli in lobster sauce with spring peas, a caprese featuring marigold tomatoes, mozzarella, fennel flowers and avocado.
“The idea of Italian food really is cooking with what you can find at the market,” says Pasta | Bar chef Phillip Frankland Lee, who co-owns the year-old restaurant with his wife, head pastry chef Margarita Kallas-Lee. “So for us it was about utilizing the market to develop a menu really designed around that.”
The other L.A. restaurants to earn one star are Gucci Osteria da Massimo Bottura in Beverly Hills, Pasjoli in Santa Monica, Sushi I-naba in Manhattan Beach and Morihiro in Atwater Village.
The United States currently has 13 total three-star Michelin restaurants, and none of them are in Southern California. Northern California boasts five three-star establishments, with three in San Francisco, one in Sonoma County and one in Santa Clara County.
Perhaps next year’s version of the annual list will finally see a restaurant in L.A. win the highest award?
“Unfortunately this was not the year to open a three-star restaurant nor was it the year to take a two star restaurant to three stars,” Frankland Lee says.
Kallas-Lee — whose Scratch Restaurants restaurant group also earned a Michelin star for its restaurant Sushi | Bar in Montecito — adds: “Especially with all the restrictions and everything I feel like we are just finally starting to have a normal restaurant environment. I don’t think there was an opportunity to express that and receive that, because everyone was so restrained.”
Even so, the husband and wife team feel that being included on this list in any capacity, particularly navigating and adjusting to COVID-19, is a win.
“After the pandemic started, I feel like we went into extra crazy work mode to obviously maintain our restaurant and take care of our team and make sure that we can keep the doors open, and I think over the year and a half we’ve been working extra hard so I feel like that was the payoff for the entire year and a half of this insane struggle,” Kallas-Lee says.
Adds Frankland Lee, “It’s something that we’ve been working on for well over a decade now and have committed our entire existence to and it’s really exciting. You just do what you do and you hopefully get a call that says, ‘You get a star.'”
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