by Kate Schmidt
Who was she? A spy, a madam? Non! She was a . . . Michelin inspector.
Perhaps John Colapinto and his 2009 New Yorker profile of one of the French restaurant guide's undercover arbiters can be blamed for a certain amount of the hype surrounding Michelin's annual announcements of its awardees. Is there not something glamorous about "anonymous, professionally trained experts" with identities so secret they're advised not to tell even their parents what they do for a living?
Well, maybe, but that's not going to stop local food scribes from bitching about, to quote Mike Sula, "the tire company's simultaneously presumptuous, obvious, arbitrary, clueless, and frequently bizarre assessment of Chicago's restaurant scene."
That's why, last year, Sula took a pass on commenting about Michelin's 2012 Bib Gourmand Awards, which recognized area restaurants from Ann Sather to Skokie's Yolo.
He's higher minded than I. Ann Sather? Vous êtes sérieuse?
But just what, you ask, is a "Bib Gourmand"? It's bestowed, Michelin says, on "inspectors' favorites for good value," that is, "good cuisine at a reasonable price in a variety of comfort categories." Or perhaps, as one Grub Street commenter quipped, it's French for "this place seems fine, I guess."
And to the delight, no doubt, of Alderman Tom Tunney, Ann Sather remains ensconced on this year's list, just bumped down an alphabetical notch by a new arrival, David Morton and Michael Kornick's Ada St.
On the full monty, as given below, I've starred this and the other listed restaurants that opened in 2012. Michelin is expected to release its more coveted list—the one with stars—next week.
Girl & the Goat
GT Fish & Oyster
Lao Sze Chuan
La Petite Folie
Marion Street Cheese Market
Maude’s Liquor Bar
Owen & Engine
The Pump Room
Sol de Mexico
The Storefront Company*
West Town Tavern
Xni-Pec de Yucatan