Titans of trade lose honors in latest Michelin guide

San Francisco’s celebrated Aqua restaurant just lost some of its star power.

At least that’s according to a new edition of the prestigious Michelin restaurant guide, which was released Monday. The restaurant was demoted from two stars to zero.

Michael Mina’s eponymous flagship restaurant in San Francisco was also cut down a notch, from two to one. The empire-building chef has restaurants from California to New Jersey.“A few of the mighty have fallen,” Michelin hinted on its Twitter account ahead of the release
Monday.

A tasting menu at Michael Mina is $135 and a three-course menu is $105. Aqua charges $130 for a seven-course tasting menu, according to its Web site.

Thomas Keller’s French Laundry in Yountville — where diners call two months in advance for $240, nine-course tasting menus — remained the only three-star restaurant in Michelin’s “San Francisco Bay Area & Wine Country Restaurants 2010” guide for a fourth straight year.

Keller’s Bouchon, also in Yountville, kept its single star, as did Alice Waters’ Chez Panisse in Berkeley.

Coi of San Francisco, Cyrus of Healdsburg, Manresa of Los Gatos and The Restaurant at Meadowood in St. Helena all retained their two-star status.

San Francisco’s Aziza, a Moroccan eatery and longtime local favorite, gained its first star, along with étoile in Yountville, La Toque in Napa, Luce in The City, Santé in Sonoma, Solbar in Calistoga and Ubuntu in Napa. Oakland’s Commis also received one star for the first time.

Michelin awarded stars to 39 Bay Area restaurants, up from 32 last year.

More than 60 San Francisco eateries won a mention in the guide’s Bib Gourmand list, which features restaurants serving two courses and a glass of wine or dessert for $40 or less.

Michelin — which is based in Clermont-Ferrand, France — is the world’s second largest tire maker. It produced its first Red Guide at the turn of the 20th century to encourage motoring.

Three stars means “exceptional cuisine, worth a special journey”; two stars means “excellent cuisine, worth a detour”; and one star means “very good cuisine in its category.”

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