Let’s Talk Tires – The DC Michelin Starred Restaurants

Photo by PoPville flickr user brunofish

Whew, got a ton of emails about this so here we go – 12 restaurants received stars in the massively anticipated (by some) first Washington DC Michelin Guide. They are:

Three Stars:


Two Stars:

Jose Andres’ Minibar (Penn Quarter)

Aaron Silverman’s Pineapples & Pearls (Capitol Hill)

The Inn at Little Washington (Virginia Hinterland)

One Star:

Rose’s Luxury (Capitol Hill)

The Dabney (Shaw)

The Blue Duck Tavern (West End)

Kinship (Shaw)

Plume (at Jefferson Hotel, Downtown)

Tail Up Goat (Adams Morgan)

Masseria (NoMa)

Fiola (Penn Quarter)

Sushi Taro (Dupont Circle)

Ed. Note: You can see the Bib gourmand recipients here. So who got robbed?

83 Comment

  • Ashy Oldlady

    I can’t say I’m all that surprised about the stars that were awarded. Also not surprised that nobody got three stars. And Rose’s Luxury is overrated.

  • Where/ what the heck is Bubkis? The Google machine is not showing anything.

  • Rasika got absolutely robbed.

    • HaileUnlikely

      I agree with this, and not just because you and Tom Sietsema also said so. I am very surprised and disappointed that Rasika did not get a star, though Sietsema notes that the tire guys have only given stars to two Indian restaurants ever.

      • I agree with this, but only because you said so.

      • For years I have failed to understand the hype around Rasika. It’s ok food, but does it merit booking a reservation 3 weeks in advance for 6 pm on a Monday? Heck no. And does it bear much resemblance to actual Indian food – you know, the kind you get in India? Not really (I’m have an Indian parent, have lived, worked and traveled widely there so I have some experience with Indian food). Most Indians/Indian-Americans I know feel the same way. There are some excellent Indian restaurants in New York – orders of magnitude better than Rasika – and they don’t have Michelin stars. I’m sure the reviewers are not assessing DC restaurants in a vacuum and also take into account how restaurants here rank against comparators elsewhere. If NY’s Indian greats don’t have stars, then how is it that Rasika was robbed?

        • people like rasika precisely because it does NOT bear much of a resemblance to standard indian fare. Also, I doubt Michelin judges restaurants based on how typical a dish is in the U.S. or any other country.

    • I disagree. Rasika is ok. It’s not outstanding, in my opinion. Sadly, I ‘m not sure anyone “got robbed.” DC’s food scene has improved a lot over the past decade, but there’s plenty of room for more improvement still.

    • Disagree. Rasika is very good, but it’s still hit or miss when it comes to service. Food is consistently good though, but the menu doesn’t change all that often and there are little things that are also a consistent nit (e.g. water glasses that condensate and leave puddles on the table; spills that aren’t timely cleaned up; some diners’ plates being taken away before others are finished, etc.).

  • palisades

    Bubkis’ cocktail program is unmatched

  • Had a very mediocre meal at Tail Up Goat, wondering if I ordered wrong. Goat Lasagna was tart and meh, breads were great though.

    • yeah i had a very mediocre meal there too even though I ordered a lot of different things. cod fritters are amazing but stracciatella was inedibly salty, and everything was…ok. the service wasn’t great, and they forgot my bf’s birthday even after I reminded them!!!!! it’s the little things, y’all.

    • Yeah, a bit of a mixed experience at Tail Up Goat, although I still thought it was good and will go back. When we got there, was sat at the bar, and the bartender seemed annoyed that we were there. I guess he was having a bad night. We were staring longingly at the tables with up-beat and attentive waiters. He ended up mis-ordering one of our plates as well. Speed fell a little behind by the end of the night too, but one of the floor managers swooped in with complimentary wine and he was overall very attentive / kind. But isn’t the type of service I would think with Michelin. Maybe I just caught the off night.

      The meal was certainly very tart, its like heavy vinegar all the way.

    • I am floored they got a star. it was beyond disappointing. they cheese was inedible.. everything else was just meh! ugh the whole thing was trying to hard while failing harder.
      this really proves those stars do not mean anything. bummer

    • Food was good, but nothing particularly noteworthy at TUG. Definitely agree they go nuts with the gremolata (parsley lemon sauce) on that lasagna. That dish is delicious but a hot mess at the same time.

  • binpetworth

    I normally am loath to agree with Tom Sietsma on anything, but agree with him that Komi and Rasika should have received at least a star.

  • Blue Duck Tavern better than Komi and Rasika? In what world?

  • Ken Bone goes to Bupkis all the time.

  • Is Bad Saint too “young” to be properly vetted for a Michelin star? My meal there was much better than meals I’ve had at other places on the short list.

    • Also: am I crazy, or are non-sushi Asian restaurants mostly ignored by Michelin?

    • hasn’t tail up goat opened more recently than bad saint?

    • Bad Saint was on the Bib Gourmand list, which renders it ineligible for star treatment.

      • HaileUnlikely

        Serious question, I do not know. Is this how the process actually works in practice? I would assume that a decision to give a restaurant a star would supersede the Bib, i.e., that the decision to give Bad Saint a Bib was made with the knowledge that they would not be getting a star. I can’t imagine the process is such that they’d decide to give a place a star and then stop and say, “Oops, wait, we can’t give them a star, because we gave them a Bib.”

        • They know how their process works in that yes, if they award a Bib that renders that restaurant ineligible for a star that particular year. A Bibbed restaurant can still earn stars in subsequent years.

          • (They would lose their Bib as a result of earning a star.)

          • HaileUnlikely

            I get that a place can’t have both a Bib and a Star at the same time, and that once it is announced that a place gets a Bib, that means it won’t get a star that same year.
            What I am questioning is the chronology and the priority of the decision-making. Is it actually the case that the decisions for Bibs occur *chronologically* before the decisions for stars, and if they’ve already decided to award a Bib, that means that a Star cannot be awarded (effectively overriding the Bib and resulting in the Bib not being issued because a Star is being issued instead)?
            I thought, though perhaps incorrectly, that although Bibs were *announced* first, that the Stars were *selected* first, and that awarding a place a Bib meant that they had actively decided against awarding a Star.

          • Ah, gotcha, misunderstood. I imagine it all happens all at once, sort of like the “how god created animals” meme that’s been trending in Twitter. (Rather than, say Obama et al. plotting Osama’s death in the Situation Room.)

          • (I think it works the way you described – “awarding a Bib means they actively decided against granting it a star”.)

          • I wonder if any restaurant at a price level that makes it eligible for a Bib Gourmand (“two courses and a glass of wine or dessert for $40 or less”) are automatically excluded from star consideration.
            In the days of small plates, “two courses” doesn’t necessarily mean much. It would be nice if one of those two courses had to be a main dish.

          • If any restaurant IS, that is. (Not “are.”)

    • I doubt it since it opened around the same time as Pineapple and Pearls.

  • it’s hard to argue with michelin’s process; they’re thorough and intense. just because you had a subjectively bad meal somewhere and a great one elsewhere makes or breaks a michelin star not. in that regard, no one was robbed. perhaps it’s a snub to decline a third star to a place like minibar considering the company’s history of rewarding food in that vein, but certainly not robbery.

    as my dad said after pretty much every season of youth sports i ever played: better luck next year.

  • the best meal I’ve had from any of the 1 stars on this list (and I haven’t been to Kinship, Sushi Taro, or Plume fwiw), is undoubtedly the Dabney. Putting aside the great atmosphere, service, and cocktails, the food was incredible. Rose’s was very good also, but I’d never wait in line for it, and frankly, Tail Up Goat was equally good (and at the time) easier to get a table.

    I’m slightly surprised Komi didn’t make the cut.

    • You should definitely hit up Kinship. It’s one of the best meals we’ve had (and we’ve been to a bunch of the other 1 stars). Their prices are also not absurd.

    • Sushi Taro tastes like the ocean. And I mean that in a good way. I was pleasantly surprised to see it included in this list. It’s great quality and expertly prepared. Every time I’ve gone it’s been during RRW so I can’t imagine how much better they could possibly be when not packed

  • The only one I’ve been to is The Inn at Little Washington (nice description of the location) and it was absolutely worth the two stars if not three.

  • justinbc

    All of the restaurants who received stars can make claims they deserve them and argue that case pretty successfully on a given night, although my experience at several has been underwhelming. There were quite a few who I felt deserved stars more than a handful of these places (The Source, Obelisk, Marcel’s, just to name a few) but the only one who truly got robbed here was Komi. Its omission along with Little Serow, by the same chef, scream of typical Michelin political BS. Add to that the fact that they included The Inn after stating they wouldn’t feature any suburb / exurb locations (while simultaneously snubbing Restaurant Eve and Volt by doing so) and you have the typical Michelin drama that anyone who follows their rankings could have expected.

    • justinbc

      Also I will add that two days ago none of these places had stars and were all making excellent food (on most nights) and the places who got snubbed will continue to do the same. This might make getting reservations for one of these places a bit harder, but won’t have much impact other than that. Overall it’s a positive thing for DC as a city to be one of only 4 recognized locations in the US with that distinction (whatever you think of it, there’s undeniable economic benefit).

    • I’d agree that Komi was robbed here, but would not even dream of putting Volt in the running for a star.

    • I haven’t seen anything about the reasons for Little Serow’s omission (Komi and others have been discussed). I’m biased because it has been, and remains, my favorite place to eat in DC, but That was a glaring omission in my book. Not unexpected, because it’s not the type of place the tire guys usually reward, but still.

  • I was fortunate enough to go to MiniBar and it was nothing short of phenomenal. I can’t justify going back, solely because I’d rather spend $800 for a new culinary experience. Also, been to 6 out of the 9 1 star and they were all worthy.

  • Too late for a Bubkis joke? I had ate at bubkis the other day. It was nothing to talk about….
    PS. I am one of the many Washingtonians that think Komi was robbed.

  • Well. All I can say is that DC is playing in a VERY different league from the Michelin-starred restaurants at which I’ve eaten.
    Like, t-ball vs MLB. I’ve eaten at a handful of those newly one-star places and the idea that they carry the same ranking as La Tour d’Argent is ridiculous.

  • As expected, but not as hoped, Michelin went for white table cloth over quality. They define service a very specific way (and its a huge part of the rankings). Hence, Blue Duck but no Komi.

    Michelin is first a service ranking, then a presentation ranking, then food taste.

    • And Plume but no Little Serow.

    • If service takes primacy over everything else, and Inn at Little Washington made it, there is no reason why L’Auberge Chez Francois shouldn’t be on this list. The service and decor there are top notch and food’s consistently great as well.

  • I think I had the best meal of my life at Metier. I’m surprised it doesn’t even get mentioned.

  • I went to Inn at Little Washington just last Saturday. I was initially horrified at the price (I knew it would be expensive, but WHOA). After our initial shock wore off, we had the best dining experience of our lives. Not sure I will be running back, except maybe to valet, but the food and ambiance were out of this world good!

  • Like others I’m shocked that Komi didn’t make the list. I’ve dined in many Michelin starred restaurants around the world and it was definitely one of the best meals of my life.

  • I have dined at both Komi and Pineapple & Pearls and I think Komi is 100% far and away the better out of the two, both on service and food. Fight me on it!

  • I didn’t have as amazing of an experience at Inn at Little Washington as everyone else (here and IRL), so don’t think it deserved 2 stars. I’m surprised Corduroy wasn’t in the running anywhere (is it still open?) as I’ve had two of the best meals of my life there.

  • Rasika and Komi should have gotten stars. Bib Gourmet for Del Campo