Without a proper Michelin Guide in 2020, inspectors instead doled out some consolation prizes to California restaurants and chefs last year in the form of environmental-stewardship honors ("Green Stars"), and a small list of "Delicious Discoveries." For this year's guide, Michelin inspectors are giving some early honors to noteworthy new restaurants, including 10 of these "New Discoveries" in the Bay Area.
As you may recall, 2019 was the first year of a combined NorCal/SoCal guide in which the Bay Area continued to dominate in the high-end category especially — there were no three-star honorees in LA, with all seven three-star restaurants in San Francisco or wine country.
After a year's hiatus, the newest guide for 2021 will be released in late September, with the Bib Gourmand honorees announced a week earlier. Before that, though, inspectors are giving shout-outs to great places that have opened during the pandemic, starting with 10 in the Bay Area.
These include the wildly popular Horn Barbecue in West Oakland; the replacement spot for Redd Wood in Yountville, called North Block; Marlena and 3rd Cousin, one a new addition to SF's Bernal Heights neighborhood and the other almost six years old; and Routier, the new collaboration of pastry chef Belinda Leong and former Manresa chef John Paul Carmona.
Below, the full list from the Michelin release. Over the coming month, more "New Discoveries" will be getting revealed for the Central Coast, Los Angeles, and Orange County/San Diego:
Aurum - Los Altos
Thanks to the collaboration between Chef Manish Tyagi and Owner Anupam Bhatia, the menu is an homage to India's forgotten recipes. Every dish is elegantly composed, and flavors are infinitely varied.
Ettan - Palo Alto
Chef Srijith Gopinathan brings his impressive pedigree and unique brand of upscale Indian cooking to Palo Alto. Kulchas are a menu highpoint, deliciously stuffed with the likes of peak-season peas and ricotta, and served with a bright green kale chutney.
Horn Barbecue - Oakland
This local sensation from Matt Horn serves up "West Coast Barbecue" set within a cool, warehouse-style space. Employing his family's cooking traditions and all manner of meat-smoking, the chef turns out brisket, pulled pork and sausages—all unfussy, yet irresistible.
Khom Loi - Sebastopol
Extensive travel throughout Thailand has informed and inspired this team to bring a taste of Chiang Mai to Sebastopol. The house-made Thai sausage is superb; and the paste for all the curries are made in house, with our favorite being the green curry with Manila clams and potatoes.
Marlena - San Francisco (Bernal Heights)
Husband-and-wife team, David Fisher and Serena Chow Fisher manage both the savory and sweet side of things. Diners will appreciate the precise technique and subtle, yet imaginative use of ingredients found throughout the seasonal menu.
North Block - Yountville
Chef Nick Tamburo had big shoes to fill following the closure of longtime favorite, Redd Wood, but he’s made it look effortless. Start with thin slivers of kampachi garnished with preserved perilla or swipe large corn and nori fritters through a cloud-like mousse of corn studded with trout roe. Wood-fired pizzas are a nod to the previous tenant.
Rêve Bistro - Lafayette
The staff are a smooth, efficient bunch; and the bistro menu from chef/owner Paul Magu-Lecugy spans the classics. Think gougères and wild boar pâté, to a heartier plate of noisettes de chevreuil poélées. The lemon meringue tart is a sublime way to cap off the meal.
Routier - San Francisco (Divisadero/Pacific Heights)
Belinda Leong and Michel Suas have long been recognized as pastry royalty in the Bay Area, so naturally, this foray into sit-down dining is a treat. To sweeten the pot even further, they tapped JP Carmona, formerly chef de cuisine at Manresa, to lead the kitchen.
Top Hatters Kitchen and Bar - San Leandro
Husband-and-wife co-owners Matthew Beavers and DanVy Vu opted to honor this fixture’s former life as a family-owned hat shop by keeping the name. The well-crafted cocktails are also dubbed with nods to millinery. Chef Vu’s skillful contemporary combination of Vietnamese and Californian flavors is tantalizing.
3rd Cousin - San Francisco (Bernal Heights)
Locals now pack this intimate spot for hand-made pastas, such as porcini- and black truffle-ravioli; as well as less conventional indulgences, such as uni crème brûlée with caviar. The Wagyu flat iron steak with maitake-bordelaise also hit the mark.