What makes a Michelin Star restaurant?

By Sergio González | 12:39


Peeking at the cooking mastery displayed at Restaurant Vermeer in Amsterdam

You may have never changed a tire in your entire life but you probably know that a restaurant awarded with a star by the French manufacturer Michelin is a good one. Let’s find out why they are in the Red Guide.

Michelin Guide started in 1900 as a humble free edition to encourage French drivers to hit the roads -cars were still an oddness and there were tons of tires to sell.

Offering interesting information about hotels, restaurants, gas stations and some car maintenance advice, the Michelin brothers’ guide soon became a handy piece. It grew until covering Western Europe and North Africa and it was first translated into English in 1909

Legend says the elder brother, André, saw his beloved guide reduced to fix a wobbly bench on a visit to one of his clients. From then on, the guide will never be free again.

Michelin Guide undertook a serious renovation and it went pro. Restaurants were ranked by sections to meet reader’s interests and ads were discarded. As the restaurant review section grew more popular, they decided to hire a body of inspectors, who totally changed the game.

These Michelin inspectors are totally anonymous. Take out of your mind the Hollywood idea of a food critic eating for free and getting all the attention because they look for the opposite thing.

Michelin hounds arrive as impersonally as anyone of us to the restaurant or hotel they have targeted. And don’t think it’s going to be a one-night stand; repeated tests are carried out at different moments of the year.

They are not only interested in the quality but also in the credibility an establishment offers. As they put it out in their website: ‘Our obsession with quality and reliability make the Michelin Guide the best source for recommendations’.

What exactly are these foodie professionals looking for? They assess points for many different things including the quality of products, the wise blend of flavors or the charisma and coherence of the menu. And that’s just the food because Michelin stars only rate ‘what’s in the plate’, not ambiance or wines.

Restaurant decor and architecture, service quality and the available corks from the cellar are rated apart, as a comment to the establishment, and rated with 1 to 5 forks and spoons, since stars only focus on food. And the way the guys at Michelin Guide website describe them, broadly genius.



One star goes for those restaurants which are ‘a good place to stop on your journey’. Michelin star system begins with a pretty high standard. One star already means high quality and mastery in preparation and flavors, what for some of us is more than enough to organize a trip.

Two stars are restaurants ‘worth a detour’. You will eat ‘superbly’, so detour as much as you need.

Three Michelin-starred places are ‘worth a special journey’, no matter if it involves transatlantic transportation. In these restaurants, you’ll be enjoying edible art and tasting things you never imagined they existed.

Inside the NH family, we like considering ourselves passionate foodies and there are several NH restaurants awarded with a Michelin star, like Restaurant Vermeer in NH Barbizon Palace in Amsterdam, and even some establishments with two of them, like the acclaimed hand of Paco Roncero at La Terraza del Casino. According to Michelin Guide, ‘the chefs adopts a restrained approach to creative cuisine with an end result that reaches perfection’.

Photo credit: Santceloni Restaurant

Photo credit: Restaurant Vermeer

  • posted by Oskars Riga | 08 September 2013, 11:56,

    Always have been wondering what the Michelin stars are, but never thought that the name Michelin had anything to with the tire manufacturer.
    Very nice article. 5 Stars from me.

  • posted by Courtney Imel | 10 September 2013, 9:28,

    We’re glad you enjoyed the post! Have you ever been to any of these restaurants? 😉

  • posted by Oskars Riga | 10 September 2013, 9:31,

    No I haven’t been to any of these restaurants, but now I know what to look for and what it means. Thanks


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