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Michelin Drops a 'Chop House'

March 01, 2000|From Times Wire Services

This week's publication of the 2000 Michelin Guide, the bible of French restaurants, was spiced by scandal. Not about the elevation of Le Grand Vefour and its chef, Guy Martin, to the three-star level; everyone expected that. The scandal was a court case that resulted in the dropping from the guide of a Loire restaurant that had held two stars since 1985.

The restaurant, which bears the name of its chef, Jean Bardet, has been charged in French courts with 11 counts of deceiving its customers about the quality of its food. According to Agence France-Presse, the prosecutor described the owners as "poets of French haute cuisine" who had "behaved like low-level chop house proprietors."

The restaurant has been accused of passing off cheap supermarket wine as a superior regional vintage, misrepresenting the origin of its sea bass and asparagus and falsely portraying its veal as free-range and its cheeses as farm-produced.

Le Grand Vefour was long one of the storied restaurants in Paris under the guidance of famed chef Raymond Oliver. It was demoted to two stars upon his retirement in 1980. A restaurant has been operating on its site since 1760.

And the Best U.S. Restaurant Is . . . What's the best restaurant in the United States? According to the Wine Spectator, it's Chicago's Charlie Trotter's, which edged out the Napa Valley's The French Laundry in the magazine's listing, which will be published in the March 31 issue. Santa Monica's Valentino is No. 4 overall but ranks highest in the country for its wine list.

Three New York restaurants made the Top 10: Le Cirque 2000 (No. 3), Daniel (No. 5) and Lespinasse (No. 8). Two other Southern California restaurants made the Top 20: Patina (No. 18) and Spago Beverly Hills (No. 19).

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