Michelin rewards great deals

Buttermilk Channel's been recognized as a Bib Gourmand.

Sure, the Michelin Man loves expensive, high-end restaurants, but that doesn’t mean he disdains cheap but tasty eats.

The Michelin Guide yesterday released its so-called Bib Gourmand list, which the company calls ”inspectors’ favorites for good value."

To gain the distinction, a restaurant must offer two dishes and a glass of wine or dessert, for $40 or less. Michelin added 31 New York restaurants to the list this year, for a total of 85 affordable options. The Guide will be released Oct. 6.

“People are always talking about the Michelin stars. But sometimes people forget that there are Bib Gourmands,” said Jean-Luc Naret, director of the Michelin Guide. “In France, you have 500 Michelin-starred restaurants and 500 Bib Gourmands. The Bib Gourmand is a distinction in itself.”.

While only about 10 percent of the Bib Gourmand restaurants usually are awarded Michelin stars, Naret said these restaurants are still high quality. “Usually the places are using local ingredients and that’s why they’re cheap. But they’re very good,” he said.

Out of the 85 Bib Gourmand restaurants, 59 are in Manhattan, 18 are in Brooklyn, seven are in Queens and one is on Staten Island.

“I’m just excited that people are realizing that really good quality food can be a good value, too,” said Francine Stephens, owner of Franny’s Italian restaurant in Prospect Heights, which received the Bib Gourmand distinction. “We only buy the highest-quality ingredients but we keep prices down by monitoring our waste and using everything we buy.”

The Bib Gourmand distinction came as something of a surprise to Amanda Cohen, chef-owner of Dirt Candy, an upscale East Village vegetarian spot where most entrees hover just under $20. “I think it’s because we do half-glasses of wine,” she said. “I would have thought it was more like $50.”

Cohen said her tiny, 18-seat restaurant is able to keep prices relatively low by controlling food costs and limiting waste. “We pretty much know we’re going to do about 36-45 covers on an average weeknight.”

Doug Crowell, owner of Bib Gourmand restaurant Buttermilk Channel in Carroll Gardens, said he hopes the distinction will bring more customers. He also added that in his American bistro, one could likely get the wine and the dessert.

“We opened really as everything headed south last November and tended to give people a good value. We saw the headlines and lowered our prices a little more because of that. But I think you can do very well at many places in New York City,” he said.

What’s in a name?

The title Bib Gourmand comes from the Michelin man’s real name, Bibendum.

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