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Michelin Unveils Its 2015 Winners (Blanca, Aquavit) and Losers (Daniel, Nakazawa) for New York

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A breakdown of the Michelin 2015 Guide's winners, losers, and the big surprises.

Michelin, the European tire maker that publishes what could be the world's most recognized guide for dining out, unveiled its 2015 list of New York's best restaurants today, and the famously anonymous inspectors made some big changes to their list of favorites. Culinary establishments deemed worthy are awarded one star ("a very good restaurant in its category"), two stars ("excellent cuisine, worth a detour"), or three stars ("exceptional cuisine, worth a special journey").

Scroll down for the full list of starred restaurants. But first, here are sixteen things you need to know about this year's guide.

1. Daniel, one of the city's most celebrated and expensive French restaurants, has been downgraded to two stars; it held three stars from 2010-2014. Recall that New York Times critic Pete Wells docked a star from Daniel Boulud's flagship in 2013. Has the quality of food and service dropped at this Manhattan staple?

2. Sushi Nakazawa, New York's best reviewed new sushi spot, was unexpectedly shut out of Michelin's starred selections. Wells gave Nakazawa ($120-$150) four stars earlier this year, while this critic awarded three. Why wasn't Michelin wowed like the local critics?

3. Blanca, Carlo Mirarchi's $195 tasting menu restaurant in Bushwick, was upgraded to two stars, and so was Ichimura, a sushi den famous for stacking two or even three slices of toro atop a single bite of rice.

4. Aquavit, which has served Scandinavian food to New Yorkers since 1987 -- about two decades before it was the "cool" thing to do -- is another new entrant to the two-star category.

5. Emma Bengtsson, Aquavit's chef, is the only second woman in America to run a two-Michelin-starred restaurant. The other is Atelier Crenn's Dominique Crenn. Previously, Bengtsson was Aquavit's pastry chef.

6. This was a big year for women in Brooklyn. Alex Raij's La Vara, whose cuisine tips its hat to the Sephardic and Moorish traditions of Spain, gained a star, as did the nearby Take Root, Anna Hieronimus and Elise Kornack's vegetable-centric tasting menu spot ($105) in a former yoga studio. Meanwhile in Williamsburg, Patti Jackson picked up a star for her Mid-Atlantic fare at Delaware & Hudson.

7. The only 2014 openings to make the list were Batard by Drew Nieporent and Markus Glocker (natch), Delaware and Hudson, and Meadowsweet, whose chef Polo Dobkin, led the kitchen at the Michelin-starred Dressler (in the same space).

8. River Cafe triumphantly returns to the starred list following its 15-month Hurricane Sandy-related closure. Also returning to the starred list is Picholine, which celebrates being open.

9. Here are the other big Manhattan and Brooklyn newcomers to the starred list: Betony, ZZ's Clam Bar, Juni, Andanada, Luksus at Torst and Piora.

10. Andy Ricker's Pok Pok Ny, as well as Zabb Elee in Queens, now have stars, which means the fragrant and occasionally incendiary food of Northern and Northeastern Thailand got a big thumbs up from Michelin. Perhaps Somtum Der will get a nod next year?

11. M. Wells Steakhouse in Queens is now the third New York steakhouse with a Michelin star; the other two are Minetta Tavern and Peter Luger. Wonder what Costata, The Dutch and Keens think about that.

12. Casa Enrique, also in Queens, becomes New York's only Michelin-starred Mexican restaurant (Empellon Cocina was snubbed again). This development also means that Queens, with M. Wells, Zabb Elee, and Danny Brown representing strong, now has four stars total, a full star more than Per Se, a tremendous achievement for any populous borough.

13. Some notable openings of 2014 (and late 2013) that didn't make the cut are the experimental Contra, the French-y Cherche Midi, the Laotian-inspired Khe-Yo, the Israeli-themed Bar Bolonat, the French-American Dover, and Tao Downtown.

14. Swank Italian hangouts A Voce Madison and A Voce Columbus were both stripped of their individual stars, as was Lan Sheng, a Sichuan staple in Midtown.

15. Now that Daniel has been downgraded to a two-spot, there only remain six three-starred restaurants in New York, one in Chicago (Alinea) and two in California (Meadowood, The French Laundry).

16. Update: Anita Lo's Annisa was dropped from the starred list, the New York Times reports. That paper's critic, incidentally, awarded three stars to Annisa earlier this year.

Now, without further ado, here's the complete list, with new entrants to each category noted as such. Agree, disagree? Add your notes in the comments.

Three Stars

  • The Chef's Table at Brooklyn Fare
  • Le Bernardin
  • Eleven Madison Park
  • Jean-Georges (great deal at lunch)
  • Masa (America's most expensive restaurant)
  • Per Se

Two Stars

  • Aquavit (new)
  • Atera
  • Blanca (new)
  • Daniel (new)
  • Ichimura (new)
  • Jungsik
  • Marea
  • Momofuku Ko
  • Soto
One Star

  • Ai Fiori
  • Aldea
  • Andanada (new)
  • Aureole
  • Babbo
  • Batard (new)
  • Betony (new)
  • Blue Hill
  • Bouley
  • The Breslin
  • Brushstroke
  • Cafe Boulud
  • Cafe China
  • Carbone
  • Casa Enrique (new)
  • Casa Mono
  • Caviar Russe
  • Danny Bar Wine Bar & Kitchen
  • Delaware & Hudson (new)
  • Del Posto
  • Dovetail
  • 15 East
  • Gotham Bar and Grill
  • Gramercy Tavern
  • Hakkasan
  • Jewel Bako
  • Juni (new)
  • Junoon
  • Kajitsu
  • Kyo Ya
  • La Vara (new)
  • Lincoln
  • Luksus at Torst (new)
  • Meadowsweet (new)
  • Minetta Tavern
  • The Modern
  • The Musket Room
  • M. Wells Steakhouse (new)
  • The NoMad
  • Peter Luger
  • Picholine
  • Piora (new)
  • Pok Pok Ny (new)
  • Public
  • The River Cafe (new -- regains star after Sandy-related closure)
  • Rosanjin
  • Seasonal
  • Spotted Pig
  • Sushi Azabu
  • Sushi of Gari
  • Take Root (new)
  • Telepan
  • Tori Shin
  • Torrisi
  • Tulsi
  • Wallse
  • Zabb Elee (new)
  • ZZ's Clam Bar (new)

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