On Using The Guide

Cheeseboard w/ the niece & her buddy
Niece & buddy at Cheeseboard. Scoping potential guide destinations on Shattuck this weekend :)

I madly ripped through my 2009 Michelin on the 30 Stockton like a total tourist. Here were my first thoughts:
– no Tu Lan, phew
– the Castro section was re-printed by accident in the beginning
– L’Osteria del Forno wasn’t in there: mixed feelings. Neighborhood “best” Italian restaurant, but glad it didn’t get more press as it’s impossible to get in now.
– North Beach Restaurant was in there, though, where I spent a miserable evening with my boyfriend- we ended up spending $150 on wine because the food was miserable at best!
– My little Istrian peninsula place, around the corner, Albona, is in there, yay!

Then, I realized I’m approaching it like a Yelper, or like an over-informed San Franciscan foodie. And, while I enjoy hearing about what chef moved somewhere and what star was demoted, in reality I am practical and like to know, without going there or reading 100 Yelp reviews, whether my parents will like it, or my boyfriend, or my visitor from Amsterdam. OK, and a little more foodie than Fodor’s. I think we tend to focus so much on ingredients and “best of” ethnic cuisines, we dismiss the more base pleasures of a cushy seat and a nice waiter, and a cloth napkin. So my parents do like that- they finally nixed my dim sum choices in Chinatown, because they were getting too sketched out. I have to say I’ve been more particular with Indian joints in the Tenderloin because of too many “lassis gone bad” scares. (If you like experimenting with dim sum ping me, tho, looking for daring stomachs.)
So I revisited the Guide, imagining a trip with a friend to a beautiful town we hadn’t visited before, down 1 or Skyline, in a convertible with a long scarf whipping in the wind, or more realistically, picking up my sister in San Jose, getting a manicure and hitting one of the 1-stars for appetizers. I can also attribute to Michelin the sheer joy I feel when my cousin Patty from Minnesota, and business visitor Marissa from Amsterdam, request Slanted Door.

Historical tidbits about Michelin guide: yes, it is the same company that makes the tires. The guides were initially to get car drivers out of cities and into the countryside to explore, using up their tires. They didn’t publish during the war, so despite starting in 1900, 2009 is their 100th.

I’m writing a series about using the Guide, for a contest, that will be on their site. I’ll post more details later. I’ll also cross-post tidbits and other info. For more info on the Guide and its ratings, and newsworth bits, I recommend Eater SF