Center Square Area Restaurants Awarded Bib Gourmands by Michelin

By Victoria Wiedel | Monday, November 15, 2010

This Michelin Man icon was drawn outside the winning restaurants.

Michelin whetted our appetites for the launch of their first ever Chicago dining guide by announcing the “Bib Gourmand” awards earlier this week. Browntrout in Northcenter, Los Nopales in Lincoln Square and Spacca Napoli in Ravenswood, along with 43 other restaurants in the Chicago area, found out about their awards in a unique way.

Michelin’s “street team” visited each award-winning restaurant on Tuesday night and quickly stenciled an outline of “Bibendum” (a.k.a. the Michelin Man) in front. Owners and workers arrived on Wednesday to find the not unwanted graffiti signifying their success. For all you food trivia fans, Bibendum loosely translated from Latin supposedly means “Now, let’s drink.”

Chef Sean Sanders was both surprised and slightly confused by the appearance of Bibendum outside of Browntrout. He was still figuring out its significance on Wednesday, but voiced no disappointment in not being awarded a star from Michelin. “Any time an internationally renowned organization recognizes you…it’s a super blessing,” said Sanders.

These restaurants will be identified in the new guide by a red symbol depicting the head of Bibendum. Defined by Michelin as their “Inspectors’ Favorites for Good Value,” restaurants qualify for the Bib Gourmand award by offering an appetizer and an entree plus a glass of wine or dessert for $40 or less. According to Michelin, “Bib Gourmands are spots where residents send their friends and families and represent the diversity and creativity found in the Chicago restaurant scene.”

Bibendum licks his chops outside Los Nopales, signifying their recognition from Michelin. Credit: Victoria Wiedel

Michelin has employed professional (and anonymous) inspectors during the past two years to visit and rate the region’s restaurants and hotels. These ratings have been compiled into their Chicago Guide – 2011, which will be on sale November 18. You can expect to get a sneak peak when Michelin announces which restaurants have been awarded coveted stars on November 17.

Here’s the list of recognized restaurants in or near the Center Square area that received the award:

Chicago Tribune Food Critic Phil Vettel has predicted that Chalkboard might receive a star next. What do you think?

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