Negative Michelin Star Restaurant Reviews – New York Edition

The Michelin Guide highlights excellent restaurants in major cities, featuring quality ingredients, masterful cooking, value-for-money, stand-out culinary identity, and outstanding service. So while Michelin Star restaurant-goers tend to leave happy, it's interesting to hear what the unhappy ones say – valid complaints or entitled quibbles?

The Michelin Guide highlights excellent restaurants in major cities, featuring quality ingredients, masterful cooking, value-for-money, stand-out culinary identity, and outstanding service. These are frequently expensive fine-dining establishments that pride themselves on delivering an excellent and memorable experience.

So while Michelin Star restaurant-goers tend to leave happy, it’s interesting to hear what the unhappy ones say – valid complaints or entitled quibbles?

Here are are some of New York’s Michelin Star restaurant reviews by not-so-happy customers:

Negative Michelin Star Restaurant Reviews - New York Edition

Eleven Madison Park

4.5 / 5 across 2200+ reviews on Google Maps

3 Michelin Stars | $$$$

Image source: elevenmadisonpark.com

Eleven Madison Park is one of the most famous restaurants in the world, consistently being awarded 3 Michelin Stars, and with commensurate prices. It made it to #1 on the list of the World’s 50 Best Restaurants in 2017, the only American restaurant to ever crack the top 3 in over a decade.

In recent years, it made some ripples after converting to an all-vegan menu, while keeping its sky-high prices. But disgruntled reviews existed both before and after this change:

Food was too spaced out (waiting some for food to come is fine but our meals were at times 40 mins apart)

After spending +$3000 some on our party left hungry. Please add some source of protein to your menu. The endless cucumbers and lettuces were not satisfying at the end on their own albeit tasting amazing.

—Elena

Every course tastes exactly the same, equally horrible. Chef must have poured the whole bottle of salt into your dishes.

—Bo

The whole time I was there I felt I was part of a “social experiment”. Would people feel compelled to “like” the food, just because the pedigree of the restaurant, or, judge the food solely on its merits? I can’t explain the good reviews, though it is very clear that everyone has different tastes, the food was the worst I had in memory.

—Joe

This place is a rich-tourist trap. Offers nothing but a lot of show, and very little food. I’ve been to Michelin starred restaurants that serve puny dishes before, but never to one with dishes so unimaginative and dull. The worst of the worst has to be the tomato puree, which I believe was scooped out of some tin.

—Oriyan

Source: Google Maps

Per Se

4.6 / 5 across 1500+ reviews on Google Maps

3 Michelin Stars | $$$$

Image source: thomaskeller.com/perseny

Per Se is a highly acclaimed restaurant in the heart of Columbus Circle, Manhattan, maintaining 3 Michelin Stars since its establishment. It was created by legendary American chef Thomas Keller as a sort of New York outpost of his California-based 3 Michelin Star restaurant, The French Laundry.

Very memorable for the wrong reasons… we experienced several issues which would be unacceptable at an Outback Steakhouse – let alone a 3 star Michelin restaurant and a bill of $1100 for two.

…most appalling issue was that a couple dining one table away, had TWO DOGS with them, in the dining room. Not only were the dogs at the table, one was sitting in a guests lap, eating ice cream off a spoon. Then one of the dogs started barking. I could not believe that our anniversary dinner was being interrupted by barking dogs eating off the table, and that the staff was accommodating this nonsense.

bathrooms were dirty, with urine on the ground and paper towels crumpled on the ground… A fast food restaurant is more diligent about cleaning restrooms on a schedule than Per Se was during our visit.

—M D

…the butter poached fish dish was overcooked… my husband upgraded to the supposed to be 180 day aged Waygu which had no dry aged flavor, and actually seemed more like a lean sirloin, no exceptional tenderness or richness. No noticeable marbling that one normally sees with Waygu.

…little boxes of shortbread which were not good. The simplicity of shortbread requires excellent flour and I am going to guess from the bitter aftertaste that the pastry chef used one that is bromated.

—Emily

Worst Michelin Star experience to date. After telling the server and making a note on our reservation about my wife’s shellfish allergies. She got served shellfish, not once, not twice but THREE times!

—Bruno

Source: Google Maps

Aquavit

4.6 / 5 across 800+ reviews on Google Maps

2 Michelin Stars | $$$$

Image source: Aquavit.org

Aquavit is a high-end Scandinavian restaurant in midtown Manhattan, named after the eponymous Scandinavian spirit over consumed in small, shot-like glasses. Established in the 80’s, it has rotated chefs and even locations several times, but has maintained top ratings, holding 2 Michelin stars since 2015. Aquavit has since opened a gorgeous branch restaurant in London.

…was told no jeans, no sneakers, and dress shoes and shirt required. My brother came in from out of town and we had to go out to buy him a pair of dress shoes just for the dinner. But…lo and behold…customers all around us were in sneakers, jeans, and polos.

I asked for good old regular NY tap water as I do at all of the michelin star restaurants that I have been to and have never been denied. However, at this ridiculous restaurant, they insisted I get bottled water.

My father also had trouble reading the menu and so he turned on his cell phone light to read the items on the list. He was immediately scolded and ordered to turn it off.

—Justin

Food was good but not even close to other two star spots in NYC… No single dish after was a 10/10 which any two star spot should be able to come up with a few throughout the night.

—Samuel

I wanted to love it, but only liked it. …most of it was more interesting to the intellect than the eye or palate.

—Michael

…my wife and I couldn’t shake off this feeling of having been ripped off. For an extra 200$ USD per person for the wine pairing, we were served inexpensive OK wines. Also the amount poured was insufficient for us to finish our plate.

—Stephane

Source: Google Maps

Chef’s Table at Brooklyn Fare

4.0 / 5 across 400+ reviews on Google Maps

3 Michelin Stars | $$$$

Image source: brooklynfare.com/chefs-table

Chef’s Table at Brooklyn Fare features an interesting fusion of Japanese and French cuisine, and an impressive 24 courses in its tasting menu, with a focus on fish and seafood. Despite Brooklyn being in its name, it has since moved and is now situated in the back of the Hell’s Kitchen location of the Brooklyn Fare grocery store chain. A bit of a departure from similarly luxurious restaurants, the unusual location is a bit at odds with its formal dress code requirement, but gives some the impression of a speakeasy.

At one point we were log jammed with three courses in front of us. We are neither slow or fast eaters, but it got out of hand. For the dollars involved the restaurant did not flex around the diner, it tried to force the diner to accommodate it. It was unacceptable. The course before the last dessert, 3 different servers tried to clear our plates before we were done. Finally, one came to us and said that we needed to finish up because the next course was time sensitive.

—D T

Several of our dishes tasted nearly identical. We also left on the verge of hungry. Portion sizes are way down and there just wasn’t much body or substance to any of the dishes. We ordered the wine tasting menu at a cool $350 a pop. Pours were often shorted and sloppy.

The service was the most disappointing factor of the evening, however. We couldn’t get anyones attention and dishes were often shoved in front of us with little more than a mumbled description leaving us straining to understand what was being said.

—Rebecca

What annoyed me greatly was the various attempts to upsell more luxury ingredients throughout the meal…

The room is sad, and chilly. There was an old bouquet in a corner that had seen better days. The service is not what you’d expect at a restaurant at this price point, even though the waiters were generally nice. There is a single restroom in the adjoining grocery store, and the rather long wait made me miss the soufflé for dessert…

As others have written, the prices are really high for the experience so overall the value is poor.

—Clara

Source: Google Maps

Le Bernardin

4.6 / 5 across 2800+ reviews on Google Maps

3 Michelin Stars | $$$$

Image source: le-bernardin.com

Le Bernardin is a French seafood restaurant originally located in Paris, first attaining 3 Michelin stars in the mid 1980’s and maintaining a 3 stars since 2005. Highly popular and boasting a huge list of culinary awards, it has been a mainstay of New York fine dining for decades.

I was really excited to come here until I had the saltiest main course of my entire life I couldn’t even finish it I was embarrassed to even say anything about it even though our server knew something was wrong because I barely touched it. So I ended my night with an appetizer that was alright I guess, some salmon that was saltier than the Atlantic Ocean and some dessert that wasn’t anything special. Really ruined my expectations.

—Lol

Experience, service and attention to detail is where this place falters big time. Napkins were not folded upon return to table. Table decor flower was missing the flower, compared to other tables. We were left with the stalk of a flower. Sommelier, mid-conversation with us, turns head fully around to smile and make contact with regular customers walking in. Waiters, introducing dishes, were intelligible as their pronunciation and, to no fault of their own, their accents made it difficult to understand what was being said. Waiters are having their own conversations in the hallway to the bathroom and unaware customers are passing by.

—Alan

Waitstaff was impersonal- we had 4 different waiters, none of whom introduced themselves. Main courses were overcooked fish with sauces that should be reserved for steaks. Definitely overpowering for delicate fishes. Desserts were overly sweet. Got overcharged for extra wine. Water was $10. This is a relic that is kept in business by its reputation and rich businessmen who can write it off.

—Andrew

Source: Google Maps

The Verdict

Given these restaurants cost hundreds of dollars per person, you might be inclined to forgive some entitlement and snootiness. Regardless of whether it’s a good idea to spent those exorbitant amounts, it’s understandable to expect more than “good” food when you pay those prices – many consider that level of fine dining an experience more akin to watching a show or sports game. So even the entitled comments in these negative reviews feel like they could be valid complaints.

Our tip for enjoying Michelin Star restaurants? As with many experiences in life, you may find you’ll end up happier if you go in with low expectations, an open mind, and, hopefully, good company. After all, even the best hitters strike out sometimes, and the fanciest clothes can look ugly to some.

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