From how to dress for a Michelin star restaurant to what the stars mean, many diners have questions before their first Michelin meal. With several Michelin restaurants on our luxury tours, including luxury train travel, we want you to know what to expect at a Michelin star restaurant.    

What is a Michelin star restaurant? 

Yes, it’s that Michelin. The Michelin food guide originated in the early 1900s when the founders of the Michelin tire company wanted to encourage motorists to take road trips—and buy tires. So, they created a guide for those in search of good food on road trips. The guide started by offering a single star and expanded up to three stars. Discerning diners began to refer to the guide in the 1960s and 70s. It has since evolved into a guide that gives a restaurant its highest honor. As a prestigious recognition, fewer than 3,000 restaurants have received Michelin notoriety. 

Michelin star restaurant criteria

To be considered for a Michelin star, a Michelin inspector uses the following criteria: 

  1. Quality of products 
  2. Mastery of flavor and cooking techniques
  3. Personality of chef in the cuisine 
  4. “Wow” factor and harmony of flavors 
  5. Consistency of food between inspectors’ visits 

What do the stars mean? 

The Michelin star awards are issued yearly. A restaurant can both have a star added and taken away from year to year. Unlike other restaurant recognitions, Michelin stars are awarded for the food only. Restaurant style and degree of formality are not considered. An overview of the meaning of the stars: 

One star: high quality cooking 

Two stars: excellent cooking with the personality and talent of the chef evident in the dishes 

Three stars: exceptional cuisine of chefs at the peak of their profession where cooking is elevated to an art form  

Preparing for your meal 

Now that you know what you have to look forward to, there’s a lot you can do in advance to make the most of your dining experience. Be sure to inform the restaurant of any dietary requirements or intolerances in advance. Michelin-starred restaurants are accustomed to accommodating vegetarian, vegan and gluten–free as well as other specific dietary requirements. Your travel concierge is also a great point of contact to share any dietary restrictions with. 

Restaurant table setting

Michelin star restaurant dress code   

Stumped on what to wear to a Michelin meal? While attire varies from more casual to formal, there are some guidelines you can follow on how to dress for a Michelin star restaurant:  

  • When in doubt, dress a little nicer. Dining in a Michelin star restaurant is a special opportunity. Why not elevate your time with a bit dressier attire? 
  • Consider the restaurant. Learning a bit about the style and décor or the restaurant will help you to select an outfit that matches the formality of the setting. 
  • One strategy is align your dress to the star rating. This simple formula translates to more business casual for 1-star restaurants, while a 2 or 3-star restaurant might call for dressier attire. 
  • Don’t be shy about contacting the restaurant. It’s perfectly common and acceptable to contact the restaurant to ask what type of attire patrons wear. Some restaurants even post their attire on their website. Or, ask your friendly travel concierge. 

Men's clothing

Sample dress 

Suggested attire for men ranges from business casual dress of a classic button-down shirt to a formal suit. The middle range of men’s dress includes casual elegant dress of blazers and sport coats. Women’s business casual attire translates to skirts and elegant blouses or sweaters and dresses. More formal dress ranges from pantsuits or formal black dresses to sophisticated evening dresses. Elevate your look with dressier cufflinks, ties and jewelry. 

Courses and pairings 

Now that you’ve found the right look for you and the restaurant, it’s time to focus on the meal. Many Michelin star restaurants will present you with a tasting menu and the choice of a drink pairing. A trained sommelier will have matched the beverages with each course to enhance the flavors of the dishes. Because of the multi-course menu, both the dishes and pours of these pairings will be less than a full main course dish and glass of wine. 

Fine dining plate

The service 

Be prepared for attentive service. You should expect your waitstaff to often be close by, enhancing your experience.  Your waiter will fill your glass, replace your napkin should you step away, and probably clean the crumbs from the table at the end of the meal. 

How long do Michelin meals take?  

A meal at a Michelin restaurant is an experience to remember. And part of that experience is taking your time and savoring each course. Most meals last at least two hours, and often three to four hours. Rest assured that the chef has your experience in mind and has thoughtfully paced the courses and wine pairings for your benefit. In short, settle in and relax into a decadent, memorable evening. 

Where will Michelin dining take you?