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From Houston: Michelin won’t come here? Really?



I’m told by my friends and hosts here in Houston, Texas’s biggest city and a financial and oil hub, that Michelin won’t come here to review restaurants. If that’s true, and they swear by it, it makes no sense. Houston is a great city, a port city that prides itself on its international culinary influences. I’ve now enjoyed the food in four places here, and I gotta say, Kudos! Good food. Interesting food, including a popup presided over by a James Beard award-winning chef. Why would Michelin ignore Houston? Don’t know. Just asking.

Anyhow – forgive me for short-shrifting my readers the last few days in terms of content and word length. Long days, and triple-digit temperatures with high humidity conspire against me being creative when I finally get back to my hotel room, usually after copious amounts of alcohol. (I will say they know how to make a proper vodka gimlet in this town!) On tomorrow (Wednesday) to San Antonio, then on Thursday, Austin. I like to remind people here that I consider myself half-Texan and Oklahoman. My mom’s parents moved to Oklahoma–which was then Indian territory–in 1907. The family quickly spread to Texas. All my cousins on that side of the family are from down here; I used to visit in the summers, and once, at the age of seven, I spent a good part of the summer digging a ten-foot-deep hole in my uncle’s Oklahoma City home looking for oil (which I never did find).

I’ve met some great people on this trip, including Sean Beck, the sommelier at a group of restaurants including Caracol, where we had some fantastic Gulf oysters, but more to the point, Sean is of like mind with me when it comes to today’s rather bizarre tastes in sommelier-driven wine. I won’t attempt to quote him, but it’s refreshing to know that not every young somm thinks that  wine has to be low alcohol and have a lot of funky dirtiness in order to be interesting. I exaggerate, of course, but you get the point…and as I told Sean, I think this temporary insanity in favor of so-called “natural” wines (a meaningless term) is coming to a merciful end, as the demise of In Pursuit of Balance symbolizes (and Sean, like me, scratches his head when it comes to defining “natural”).

Well, that’s it for tonight. Have a great Wednesday!

  1. As to being Michelin-ignored, it recalls an experience I had at a restaurant in the Auvergne region in France. The dinner was one of the finest restaurant meals I’ve ever had, with every aspect being perfect. At the end, I asked the co-owner/Maitre-d, in my poor French, why the restaurant didn’t have a Michelin star. He said: “Go ask Michelin.” And, he continued, he didn’t care; people came, they enjoyed dinner, and they paid.

  2. Steffen Pelz says:

    Steve. Not sure that I even want Michelin to visit Texas. Everything in my hometown of Austin (and I hear Dallas and San Antonio experience the same phenomenon) has exploded in price. Great meal? Expensive. Crappy meal? Expensive. And let’s not even talk about rent or homeownership costs.

    Those of us who are knowledgeable about the restaurant and wine scene in our respective towns KNOW the restaurants to eat at and which to avoid. We KNOW (or at least have an idea) which new restaurants to give a try and which not to. And we know the sommeliers, whether they are worth their salt and whether they will geek out with us.

    All Michelin does is to create artificial demand for those who are clueless and lazy and want an easy way to impress others by being able to say “done that”.

    In the process, an entire ecosystem can be ruined by a proliferation of trendy small plate restaurants who have no clue how to cook a real meal thereby creating a subculture of restaurant workers who act and feel superior to patrons and have expectations of lavish bills and tips for mediocre performance.

    No thanks. I’d take an honest meal in an honest restaurant over a trumped up experience that has been deemed essential by someone who doesn’t even have to pay for his own meal.

  3. Steffen, I have a feeling you would have liked the restaurant I’m referring to: La Ferme Saint-Sebastian in Charroux.

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