At 7:22 this morning a press release hit the mailboxes of Chicago’s food writing herd, and it collectively galloped to its keyboards to paste in the list of 46 restaurants anointed with “Bib Gourmand” designations for the upcoming Michelin Guide Chicago. (The Trib was awarded the scoop.)
These aren’t the prestigious star designations that will be bestowed next week but instead are defined as “Inspectors’ Favorites for Good Value” that “offer two courses and a glass of wine or dessert for $40 or less (tax and gratuity not included), and are often of most value to a city’s residents, who regularly dine in neighborhood restaurants.” But Michelin’s well-orchestrated announcement—preceded by chalk stenciling of its chubby rubber mascot all over the city’s sidewalks—is only the beginning of a week’s worth of hype and hand-wringing.
It has predictably resulted in a surfeit of Jean-Luc Naret interviews (two is one too many) and eruptions in the Twittersphere about the popular obvious choices (Girl & the Goat, the Publican), a few deserving surprises (Smak-Tak), and some serious WTF? (Twin Anchors? Ann Sather?). Same thing happens anytime anyone publishes a list in a city with more than 6,000 restaurants.