Maybe the relevance of Michelin stars, and accompanying guide, would increase if,
Apart from losing the numbing down, bland-isation of any food innovation by chefs to a style that is either Boring in itself already or a quick to wear off gimmick, that obtaining or even striving for a star(s) often turns into, just to please the judges and don’t forget a bucket of salt (yes, don’t lie to me)
The wine list was innovative, too. By which I don’t mean that the wine list couldn’t have some classics but where the all but most insanely priced items (all tend to sit at some 4-8 times cost anyway, extortionistly – bring that down to 2-3x and your profits go through the roof all the same) have something new. Fresh, beyond the well-trodden paths. The latter, being the average+ quality (if one’s lucky) of the go-with-the-flow (of up to and including last year’s fashion) appellations – with too many New World ones that are so cheap to get. Or from secondary regions of the Old World where the top can still be had at below-top priced – but still with according interestingness of taste. All from the mid-size to big merchants that don’t care anymore about their products and just want to shove as many boxes as they can at incumbent-tied-in margins. Their tell: Aggression towards any that want to offer something off the wine menu for connoisseurs.
As if the chef’s innovation that once was, is enough to stay at the level that once was, qua quality and freshness one wants from top rated places. News flash: The wines can add to the experience. Big time. If one doesn’t see that, well, off you go.
And it also goes for the wine pairing / selection by the glass; how better to showcase one’s innovative wine choices in perfect matches per course ..?
Why not feel free to ask customers for their wine sophistication and preferences? Only a handful of sommeliers seem to understand. Almost all, at the true top places, without food stars.
[One notable exception encountered, in a long life of many attempts… And this one. This one, nearly there; (somewhat) interesting wines but then, with that tad too little wine knowledge transferred and suffering from the above Salt issue plus some very minor other things (though this is a showcase of Don’t Believe the Reviews, peasants flaunting their … lack of knowledge and understanding. Maybe this one may join this class if it’s not my browser through which the link is down…]
[Elsewhere: this place. A drain on your balance, but then …! What great (9) dishes, what excellent wine choices and pairing, even in the ‘simple’ recommended wine pairing.]
And don’t come telling that when the food has to shine, the wines shouldn’t need to shine, too; it would be either-or not AND. That’s just nonsense for n00bs with underdeveloped taste.
So that in the end we may see the return of the true relevance of stars, and see less overhyped craze over joints that suddenly get overbooked way too long in advance and start to double their prices – for nothing of the new but only the already mundane that satisfies only those running after Keeping Up With The Jones’ (“Do you know this-and-that [ill-pronounced] winemaker? Isn’t he great oh we once tasted his [name a random year], I’m on a personal basis with him because I was at the camping on the mudfield next to his’.” – no joke, heard too often in literal or similar ways…) places. Ruining it for true believers from the humble beginnings.
The latter Dutch link brings me to another point by the way (as mentioned in the Salt posts I believe – haven’t read back my own posts ;-/ ): [wow so many in a row] Where are the veggies …!?!? The top of the top does cook with lots of those (take this one, and this one even almost more), and create a feeling of correlation between (being able to) top cooking with vegetables and completely outflanking the stars.