'One third' of top Michelin restaurants not up to scratch

michelin figaro paris france News Wine News
  • Friday 13 February 2004

One third of three-star Michelin restaurants are not up to standard, French newspaper Le Figaro says.

The allegations were made in an explosive interview with sacked Michelin inspector, Pascal Rémy, to be published in the quality broadsheet's magazine tomorrow.

‘More than one third of the three-star restaurants are not up to the expected level,’ he tells the paper. ‘It is normal and human to drop your standards after a certain time.’

He claims there are only five inspectors for the whole of France – with over 10,000 restaurants to be covered. He also says that some restaurants were not visited at all.

As well as publishing Remy’s damning comments, Figaro asks 10 eminent critics to name the restaurants which they thought were not worth the three-star standard.

The list of restaurants the critics came up with includes the Relais Bernard Loiseau, whose proprietor committed suicide last year. Many in the French restaurant world directly related his death to his recent loss of a star in the prestigious Gault-Millau guide.

However, his widow Dominique Loiseau slammed those who criticised the Guide as ‘young Parisian journalists’ who were intent on making their mark.

‘Their aim is to demolish certain institutions,’ she told decanter.com.

Other restaurants on the blacklist included Paul Bocuse at Collonges, Philippe Legendre of George V’s Le Cinq, Les Crayeres in Champagne, Les Freres Pourcel, Montpellier, and Christian Le Squer in Paris.

Decanter writer Anthony Rose said he had found the service at Les Crayeres lacking, particularly the sommelier's hostile reaction to his party's suggestion a wine was corked. 'It absolutely doesn't merit three stars,' he said.

In total, 19 restaurants were cited as not worth their stars by critics from Le Monde, Libération, Bottin Gourmand, Le Guide Lebey and a series of other serious journals.

In a separate article Figaro also accuses Michelin of nepotism, and of having no clear criteria for the allocation of the stars.

Decanter restaurant critic Brian St Pierre said, ‘Michelin’s terms of reference have always bewildered me. Places with good food, great service and fabulous wine lists don’t get rated, while other places with mediocre wine lists make the grade.’

St Pierre pointed to the Italian edition of the Guide as being particularly arcane in its selection critieria.

Rémy’s revelations, which include claims that the Michelin directors not the reviewers had the final decision on who received stars, come after he was fired for threatening to publish damaging memoirs about his 14 years at the Guide.

Francoise Rault of Michelin told decanter.com, ‘The majority of Remy’s accusations are false. The French team is made up of 21 inspectors, and 200 in total across Europe. The profession of rating restaurants has been dirtied by this media uproar.’

Wine Articles

Articles from Decanter magazine and the Decanter.com archive - interviews, features, country and region profiles, travel articles and more