There’s something fishy going on in the Chicago-area culinary scheme, and I’m not talking about the sole meuniere at Everest. The 2015 Michelin restaurant guide is out, and all of our local restaurants lost their Bibb Gourmand designation in the new guide. 

In addition to giving out up to three stars for expensive, fancy R restaurants, Michelin recognizes dining establishments that provide excellent food at prices the 99 percent might be able to afford. 

Last year my home in south Oak Park was the epicenter of Bibb Gourmand in the western suburbs. The sushi restaurant Sen, Berwyn’s Autre Monde and Marion Street Cheese Market were all deservedly on the list. This year all three disappeared along with every other suburban restaurant and Michelin’s credibility.

None of this makes much sense to me. The idea that Michelin, a French tire manufacturer, should have anything to do with food seems kind of crazy. I always thought it was a good idea that my law firm did not do tattoos or auto body repair. I say stick with what you know. 

In fact, the whole idea of a restaurant critic seems misguided. Food, like art and fashion, is inherently subjective. I recall the adage, “One man’s meat is another man’s poison.” I am told there are people who prefer cherry Kool-Aid to grape Kool-Aid. Crazy, but true. There are many problems with individuals — even those with the most refined palates — evaluating restaurants. For example, just how can critics who are allergic to peanuts, shellfish, dairy, eggs or wheat properly evaluate food? How can you evaluate fried chicken if you never ate my Mama Simms’ fried chicken? Having eaten tuna fish casserole every Friday from 1955 to 1963, there’s no way I would give a good review to that horrible dish, even if it had no peas.

So I say forget this stupid Michelin guide and its hoity-toity Chi-centric pretensions. Let’s be honest — food is various combinations of fats, carbohydrates and protein. The main reason for food is to get energy to get out of bed each day. The taste of the food is not that important. 

Remember, the key variable for evaluating food is hunger. Some of the best meals I have ever had include late-night Honey Nut Cheerios and cream, the big box of popcorn at the Lake Theatre, and a hot dog at the turn of most any golf course.

So no one should ever wait more than 30 minutes or pay more than $75 to eat a meal. Who really cares if the lamb was from South Africa or South Holland, or if the salmon swam upstream or downstream, or the oven was a thousand degrees or hotter than the sun’s core? The conceit of waiting for two hours to pay exorbitant sums for a glass of wine and some “infused” chemistry experiment entree is insane. Louis XIV and Caligula should not be your dining models. Stay away from food that takes longer to explain than to consume. Same with modern art.

So I say this to Sen, Autre Monde, and Marion Street Market: Good food at good prices. I’ll be back. 

Oh, and I’ll be buying my next set of tires from Goodyear.

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John Hubbuch

John is an Indiana native who moved to Oak Park in 1976. He served on the District 97 school board, coached youth sports and, more recently, retired from the law. That left him time to become a Wednesday...