While top Zagat scores and positive New York Times reviews may be prized, there’s one designation that exceeds all others in the fine dining scene — the coveted Michelin Star.
In 1900, brothers André and Édouard Michelin pressed 35,000 copies of the first-ever Michelin Guide of France. The book of restaurant reviews was designed to boost car ownership and, thus, sales of car tires that the Michelin Company manufactured. A three-star rating system was developed indicating whether or not a restaurant was worth traveling to. One star meant the establishment was “very good in its category,” two was a recommendation to “take a detour” to seek out the restaurant, while three stars signaled that readers should view the establishment as worthy of a “special journey.”
Over the next 100 years, the increasingly successful publication was launched in neighboring countries, and finally, in 2005, a New York City edition was printed. As of the 2016 edition, 58 restaurants in New York City have earned one star, nine establishments have two stars, and only six restaurants in all five boroughs have achieved the coveted three-star rating.
Three of the Michelin-recognized establishments are located on the Upper East Side, and residents would be well advised to take a visit — by car, by rail or on foot.
Daniel – Two Michelin Stars
60 E. 65th St. (at Park Avenue)
If fine French food is your culinary desire, look no further than Daniel, which has been awarded two Michelin stars in 2016. (Best not to dwell on the fact it lost a star in 2015). Raised on his family’s farm in Lyon, France, Chef-Ower Daniel Boulud proudly seeks out the finest ingredients for his soulful, contemporary dishes, rooted in French tradition and inspired by the seasons. He has amassed an all-star staff at Daniel that includes Executive Chef Jean-François Bruel, Chef de Cuisine Eddy Leroux and Executive Pastry Chef Ghaya Oliveira. The exquisite menu is ever changing, but recent iterations included a delectable Maine lobster salad appetizer with champagne mango and chayote-lime panna cotta and a baked Alaskan king salmon in clay entrée with eucalyptus, artichokes, crispy socca and a lemon balm emulsion. Be sure to beckon the sommelier; Daniel was recently recognized by Wine Enthusiast as one of their 2016 “100 Best Wine Restaurants” in the country.
Café Boulud — One Michelin Star
20 E. 76th St. (at Madison Avenue)
Daniel Boulud and company offer a more casual dining option a few blocks up Madison at Café Boulud, which has received one star on the 2016 Michelin list. Situated in The Surrey Hotel, the Café menu is inspired by the chef-owner’s four culinary muses: classic French cuisine, seasonal delicacies, fresh vegetables and the flavors of the world. Open with the chilled pea soup with lemon crème fraiche, pea tendrils and charred scallion vinaigrette, followed by the roasted chicken with market beans, artichoke and tomato coulis. Don’t forget the molten chocolate cake with vanilla ice cream or perhaps the ricotta cheesecake for dessert. The restaurant boasts an exceptional wine list and the adjacent Bar Pleiades serves fine cocktails in an elegant backdrop.
Sushi of Gari — One Michelin Star
402 E. 78th St. (between First and York avenues)
Masatoshi “Gari” Sugio became a sushi chef in Japan at the tender age of 19, and began working in New York City Japanese restaurants in the late 70s. During that time, he began incorporating his own sauces into his sushi creations to prevent Americans from drowning their sushi in soy sauce, obscuring the delicate flavors. He opened his first restaurant, his Upper East Side Sushi of Gari, in 1997 and has since launched outposts throughout New York City and in Los Angeles. To this day, Sushi of Gari is dedicated to serving the chef’s original sauces and toppings to enhance flavor. Signature selections include the Hirame Truffel: blow-torched fresh fluke topped with sweet onion sauce, a poached quail egg and white truffle oil, and the Kohada Rakkyo: silver shad with rakkyo and Japanese échalote. Or try the Omakase chef-selected tasting menu featuring seasonal sushi and sashimi.