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Alinea only Chicago restaurant to earn 3 stars from Michelin

Aline1723 North Halsted retained its vaunted three-star rating 2014 Chicago MichelGuide arerestaurants. | Sun-Times file

Alinea, 1723 North Halsted, retained its vaunted three-star rating in the 2014 Chicago Michelin Guide to area restaurants. | Sun-Times file

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Updated: December 17, 2011 8:27AM



And the coveted three Michelin stars go to ... Alinea.

Grant Achatz’s Lincoln Park restaurant was the lone recipient of the travel guide’s highest honor, the tire company announced Tuesday.

Charlie Trotter’s and Ria in the Elysian Hotel were awarded two Michelin stars.

L2O, which earned three stars last year along with Alinea in the inaugural Chicago Michelin guide — just as its chef, Laurent Gras, abruptly left the restaurant — was downgraded to one star. Seventeen other Chicago area restaurants also earned one star.

Off the list entirely were Crofton on Wells and three swanky hotel restaurants — Avenues, NoMI and Sixteen. Avenues, in the Peninsula Hotel, earned two stars last year, but chef Curtis Duffy left the restaurant in September to open his own restaurant. Sixteen in the Trump International Hotel and Tower also saw its chef, Frank Brunacci, leave; he now runs an Australian truffle importing business with his wife. NoMI in the Park Hyatt underwent a makeover earlier this year, reopening as the slightly more casual NoMI Kitchen. Crofton on Wells, NoMI and Sixteen all earned one star last year.

New to the guide this year are moto, the taste bud-bending West Loop restaurant from chef Homaro Cantu, and Courtright’s, a 16-year-old Willow Springs restaurant. Both earned one star.

“It’s an incredible honor,” said Bill Courtright, who runs Courtright’s with his wife, Rebecca. “We built this restaurant out there in the middle of nowhere and built it because we loved the Michelin restaurants we visited in Europe. We thought you didn’t necessarily have to be in the heart of the city, and if you paid attention to detail and did things right, you could make it happen anywere.”

Courtright’s is one of only two suburban restaurants with a star. The other is Vie in Western Springs.

The Michelin Guide got its start in 1900 as a hotel and restaurant guide for visitors to the World’s Fair in Paris.

Three Michelin stars denote restaurants with “exceptional cuisine, worth a special journey.” Two stars represents “excellent cuisine, worth a detour.” One star: “a very good restaurant in its category.”

In addition, there is a “Bib Gourmand” designation denoting good food and good value. Fifty-six area restaurants made that list.

Inclusion in the guide, whether with stars, a Bib Gourmand or simply as a listing, is viewed as an honor — and a motivator. “We want two [stars],” Courtright said.

The guide goes on sale Nov. 16 for $18.99.



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