With Chicago's 2018 Michelin stars being announced a month from today, I figured it was time for my annual predictions. As always, this is a prediction of what I think Michelin will do, NOT what I personally want them to do (while there would be overlap, there would also be significant differences).
Unfortunately I do not think this will be a particularly strong year; with two multi-star venues closing (TRU and 42 Grams) and many of the new restaurants not quite being up to Michelin standards I think that at best we net two or three starred venues - and we might just net one. The most significant action this year will be in currently starred venues moving up, rather than newly starred venues. Here goes (in alphabetical order)...
Oriole (Newly Elevated)
Smyth (Newly Elevated)
Band of Bohemia
Blackbird (Chance of 2*)
Longman & Eagle
Schwa (Chance of 2*)
* = Newly Starred Venue
*I strongly believe that Oriole has become one of Chicago's very best restaurants (heck, one of the country's best); so consistent, amazing quality and tasting food, perfect vibe and top notch staff; very deserving of an elevation to 3*
*Sixteen was a bit of a wildcard after losing Lents and lots of other talent; however my two meals there since were actually my two best meals I've had there! The Fab Four - Dostal (executive chef), Sheridan (pastry chef), Lalit (sommelier) and Stark (general manager) are working wonders and doing plenty to retain the 2* status.
*Smyth has to be the most creative venue in town; like Disney World for dining - definitely deserves elevation to 2*
*Several current 1* venues are outstanding, two in particular a feel are on the cusp of 2*, Blackbird and Schwa (I've always loved Schwa but under Chef Bauer they have become so much more consistent). For now I am predicting they remain at one, but would not be the least bit surprised if one of them elevated to 2*
*Of the newly starred venues Elske is the only no-brainer. NoMI has assembled quite an all-star line-up with Sura on savory, Adachi serving the best quality sushi I've had in town and Mosko on pastry - am fairly confident they return to starred status. Temporis had a rocky start, but my meal there a couple months ago was phenomenal; am banking on that meal signifying they turned a corner and Michelin will focus on what they have been up to recently. Finally George Trois becomes the first suburban venue in a few years to make the list.
*Losing stars: Aside from the aforementioned shuttered outstanding venues (TRU and 42 Grams) - both sad losses to our dining scene, the only currently open venue I predict to lose starred status is Dusek's; they lost both their executive chef and pastry chef and without them do not think they are at 1* level. A couple other venues I think are at risk, but am not predicting anyone else to lose their star this year.
*Future stars: Several recently open venues I think have the potential to make it to starred status; some have been open for a while and are very close (especially Entente) and some are too new but have the potential down the road. The last name on this list is not new, but had a recent chef change that may end up elevating the venue to the next level. It is possible one of these does actually get starred this year:
Entente, Proxi, Quiote, Giant, Somerset, HaiSous, Nico Osteria
*Hail Mary: Two venues that are among my very favorites in town are Fat Rice and Owen & Engine; personally I find these venues superior to some starred venues (in food quality, creativity, execution, taste, consistency and value), but for whatever reason Michelin doesn't see it that way. Would love to see it happen (and North Pond finally being starred after being snubbed a few years gives hope), but definitely long shots.
Would love to hear other people's predictions!