The 2010 Michelin Guide to San Francisco Bay Area & Wine Country Restaurants offers few surprises for foodies already familiar with the farm-fresh cuisine of Wine Country.
But the burgundy guide added three new categories that reflect cutting-edge dining trends: restaurants notable for their small-plates menus, cocktail programs and sake lists.
Reflecting the tough economic times, the small-plates symbol points Michelin diners in the direction of good value for the money.
?They could be places where you could have a very small bite, and very good quality for the money,? said Jean-Luc Naret, director of the Michelin guides. ?We have 18 of those in this category.?
In Wine Country, restaurants crowned with a stack of plates ? the Michelin symbol for small plates ? include Zuzu in Napa and Scopa in Healdsburg.
?As one of the few tapas bars in the Valley, Zuzu was serving small plates before the fad reached its current levo of trendiness,? reads Zuzu?s review.
?Small plates such as spicy meatballs in a cast-iron skillet, or prosciutto wrapped around oozing fontina encourage sharing,? reads the review of Scopa.
Curiously enough, Willi?s Wine Bar in Santa Rosa ? Mark and Terri Stark?s pioneering small-plates restaurant ? was praised for its ?international tapas,? but it was not awarded a small-plates symbol. Neither was the Stark?s northern outpost, Willi?s Seafood & Raw Bar, which also serves tapas-style small plates.
Likewise, the Michelin guide gave out its cocktail symbols quite sparingly. Although many restaurants in Napa were honored for their wine programs, not one restaurant in the Napa Valley was deemed worthy of a cocktail symbol.
In Sonoma County, however, both Cyrus and Willi?s Seafood & Raw Bar, located around the corner from each other in Healdsburg, earned cocktail crowns.