Michelin Guide Mistakenly Awards Star to Humble French Cafe

Le bouche à oreille via Facebook
Le bouche à oreille via Facebook / Le bouche à oreille via Facebook

Foodies flocked to a small-town cafe in central France after Michelin debuted its annual restaurant guide in early February. With its plastic tablecloths and working class clientele, Le Bouche à Oreille in Bourges isn’t the typical restaurant you’d expect to earn a Michelin star. That’s because the star was never meant to go to the eatery to begin with; as The Telegraph reports, the Michelin Guide confused it with a different Le Bouche à Oreille, located about 100 miles away in Boutervilliers, a town about 40 miles southwest of Paris.

On a typical day, Bourges's Le Bouche à Oreille serves local workers hearty meals like lasagna, steak and chips, and beef bourguignon for about $10.50 a dish. The crowd looked quite different for the couple of days the error was listed on the Michelin Guide website; food critics and gourmands showed up to the restaurant looking for a fine dining experience, only to find something decidedly more humble.

“Suddenly, we were rushed off our feet," the restaurant's owner, Véronique Jacquet, told The Telegraph. "Reporters were coming in and then my son phoned me from Paris, where he lives. He almost died laughing. I had regulars and friends phoning up and asking why I hadn’t told them we’d won a Michelin star.”

If the star had indeed been meant for the Bourges brasserie, it wouldn’t have been the first time Michelin recognized a casual dining hotspot. Last year, a Singapore street food vendor selling $1.50 plates of chicken received the coveted distinction. But the plates at the intended Le Bouche à Oreille—where Brittany lobster and foie gras are staple menu items—cost about $20 to $40 more than those at the Bourges restaurant.

In addition to sharing a name, the two restaurants also share similar addresses: Route de la Chapelle in Bourges and Impasse de la Chapelle in Boutervilliers. The Michelin Guide called the Bourges restaurant to alert them of the mix-up once they became aware of it. Fortunately, both restaurants have had a sense of humor about the confusion. The owners of Le Bouche à Oreille in Boutervilliers invited the Bourges restaurant's staff to enjoy a meal at their eatery, and the chef promised to do the same if he’s ever in Bourges.

[h/t The Telegraph]