Secret ingredients and unexpected meals by Andrew Schneider

Michelin’s stars are falling.

by Kimberly Marlowe Hartnett on January 21, 2011

The little book that long ago helped hook us all on using a “star” rating system for restaurants is getting low marks these days.

It’s the 100-year-old Michelin Guide to Britain and Ireland, and it has been labeled “increasingly irrelevant” by Wall Street Journal writer Paul Levy in a chatty inside-baseball kind of story. (“I question the three stars given to the [London] Waterside Inn since 1985, if only because it has never been as good as the two-star Gavroche, which is run by a different branch of the Roux family.”)

Levy’s observations made me wonder where the art of restaurant reviewing is headed next. There’s a generation of diners who have only relied on consumer reviews as the way to pick eateries, rather than the thoughts of reviewers, that is, professional journalists who write about restaurants.

The photo of an antique print comes from, an online auction site in the UK.

I predict that soon we will all use instant services that mimic Pandora and Genius. Algorithms will sort our choices and suggest places to try.

That means there will also be a lot of people lying to their restaurant-picking service just the way they mislead Netflix. (Did you like Debbie Does Dallas? Nope, hated it.)  Who is going to admit that the drive-thru Hotdog Hut is her idea of heaven?

Michelin may be outdated, but at least it didn’t put us on the spot.

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