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In this 2022 photo, Chef/co-owner John Shields is photographed in his Smyth restaurant, located at 177 N. Ada St. in the West Loop.

In this 2022 photo, Chef/co-owner John Shields is photographed in his Smyth restaurant, located at 177 N. Ada St. in the West Loop. The restaurant received a rare third Michelin star on Tuesday night in a gala award ceremony in New York.

Pat Nabong

Four Chicago restaurants awarded 2023 Michelin stars

Chicago’s restaurant scene is seeing stars. Michelin stars.

The 2023 Michelin Guide gala ceremony Tuesday night in New York City recognized restaurants in Chicago, as well as New York and Washington, D.C., honoring eateries in the three cities consistently offering “outstanding cooking.”

“These milestone announcements solidify these cities as some of the best places in the world to visit for culinary adventures,” said Gwendal Poullennec, international director of the Michelin Guides.

Michelin stars — the highest accolade in the culinary industry — recognize a restaurant’s cuisine only and are assessed by anonymous reviewers based on five criteria: “the quality of the ingredients, the harmony of flavors, the mastery of techniques, the personality of the chef as expressed through their cuisine and consistency both across the entire menu and over time.”

In Chicago, one restaurant received the industry’s highest honor — the elusive third Michelin star — two restaurants received one Michelin star, and one received the relatively new Michelin Green star.

In honoring Smyth in the West Loop with its third Michelin star, Poullennec said: “The inspectors have been carefully monitoring the progress at Smyth, especially since it earned two Michelin stars in 2017. They unanimously decided that now is the time to reward the restaurant, chefs John Shields and Karen Urie Shields and their staff for delivering peak creativity, precision and teamwork. This is an elite restaurant.”

Smyth now shares Michelin’s top-honor status with Alinea, which has retained its three-star status since 2011.

The stars must be “earned” each year, and previous stars can be rescinded if the reviewers find the overall quality of the cuisine has lost some of its luster.

Lincoln Square’s Atelier and Indienne in River North got their first Michelin stars, “awarded to restaurants using top-quality ingredients, where dishes with distinct flavors are prepared to a consistently high standard.”

Receiving a Michelin Green star, “awarded to restaurants that are role models when it comes to sustainable gastronomy” is Logan Square’s Daisies.

Here’s a closer look at Chicago’s newest Michelin-starred restaurants, with excerpts from what the reviewers wrote:

Three Michelin stars

Smyth

177 N. Ada St., West Loop; contemporary/creative cuisine; smythandtheloyalist.com

“The very chic Smyth, with its lounge styling and open kitchen, is helmed by Chefs John Shields and Karen Urie Shields. Their cooking is bold and often pushes boundaries, all the while impressing. Sheer creativity is applied to seasonal produce, some of which comes from their garden. A quail egg, gently smoked and topped with caviar, is given a twist with barley caramel. Resting inside its shell, plump Maine uni, amplified with a divine peach gel and wasabi cream, is both stunning and memorable. The chefs’ creativity is on full display in an utterly unique Dungeness crab dish, while wagyu sided by a truffle-flavored doughnut with marrow glaze is yet another hit.”

One Michelin star

Atelier

4835 N. Western Ave., Lincoln Square; American cuisine; atelier-chicago.com

“In full view of the dining room, Chef Christian Hunter and his team chart new waters, ever determined to make their own mark on this intimate space. Working quietly and seamlessly, the kitchen delivers a carefully calibrated tasting menu supported by nearby farms and packed with flavor and originality. Familiar dishes like marinated beets, pimento cheese and Caesar salad arrive remodeled and refined, astutely seasoned, and never a leaf or morsel out of place. Hope that the warm clam chowder with lamb bacon and chive oil is still available. It’s a total showstopper.”

Indienne

217 W. Huron St., River North; Indian cuisine; indiennechicago.com

“In a city where kitchens break molds and defy expectations, Chef Sujan Sarkar makes a splash of his own on this quiet strip of River North. À la carte is available, but first-timers should start with the tasting menu, where Sarkar delivers an original, modern vision of Indian cuisine. His food may look like pieces of art but tastes like familiar favorites pulled from across his vibrant homeland. At times showcasing a hint of French sensibility, pani puris, chats and curries arrive deftly spiced and elegantly presented. The kitchen is quick, and the overall effect is impressive refinement.”

Michelin Green Star

Daisies

2375 N. Milwaukee Ave., Logan Square; Italian cuisine; daisieschicago.com

Chef/owner Joe Frillman’s menu focuses on produce, and much of that produce comes from his brother’s 30-acre farm, 70 miles outside the city. The restaurant has a fermentation program to preserve produce and limit waste, as well as a compost program to fertilize the farm’s soil and feed its chickens. Its goal is to source local, sustainable food whenever possible and to minimize its footprint by finding uses for commonly discarded items.”

Special Michelin Awards

Also, four special Michelin awards were presented to these Chicago restaurant staff members:

  • Michelin Exceptional Cocktails Award: Monica Casillas-Rios, Elske, 1350 W. Randolph St.
  • Michelin Sommelier Award: Alex Ring, Sepia, 123 N. Jefferson St.
  • Michelin Outstanding Service Award: Josh Perlman, Giant, 3209 W. Armitage Ave.
  • Michelin Young Chef Award: Christian Hunter, Atelier, 4835 N. Western Ave.

Bib Gourmands 2023

In addition, the Michelin Guide last week awarded Bib Gourmand status to five Chicago restaurants recognizing eateries that “offer a three-course meal at a reasonable price.” Those went to:

Chicago’s Michelin Guide now boasts 154 restaurants representing 38 types of cuisine, including: two three-star restaurants (“exceptional cuisine, worth a special journey”); three two-star restaurants (“excellent cuisine, worth a detour”); 16 one-star restaurants (high quality cooking, worth a stop); one Green Star restaurant (restaurant sustainability leaders); 47 Bib Gourmands (good food at moderate prices); and 86 recommended restaurants.

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