The bay area Michelin Guide 2008 is out, and there’s not much changed from last year: the French Laundry is the only place with 3 stars (the most) in the wider bay area. Aqua and Michael Mina are the only 2 stars in the city. Those Michelin guys are so stingy with stars, Chez Panisse’s Alice Waters still clutches her lonely one. Jean-Luc Naret, the director of the Michelin guide, was handing out press copie this morning at a brunch at Bloomingdale’s. He was ebullient. We asked him about last year belly dancers controversy, and he was like, but they were there, the inspector saw them! It was “a writing error,” he added, “not a rating error.” We do writing errors all the time too! We can totally relate.

He dished the dirt on the Chron food critic Michael Bauer: first, Naret said he wanted to have those Chronicle front page articles about the guide “three days in a row” this year too! We should have suggested he worked in a mention of topless waitresses at Gary Danko, that would get Bauer in a huff. And Naret told this story of having dinner with Bauer: Bauer tells him to pick a restaurant, Naret chooses The Dining Room at the Ritz, and guess what? It was not on Bauer’s Top 100 list that year! Look, Bauer makes booboos too! Bauer felt so bad that the Top 100 was actually a Top 101 that year, after squeezing in the Dining Room a posteriori.

Jean-Luc Naret and the Michelin man, aka. Bibendum, at last year's guide release party. More after the jump