8 Michelin-Star Restaurants That Actually Have Poor Reviews

We're peeling back the layers on some of the most prestigious, never-getting-a-table-at, deeply lauded Michelin-starred restaurants we could find. Because no matter how insane the wine selection, or how magnificent the gastronomical journey, there's always gonna be the guy who really isn't glistening over those truffles.

Jaw-droppingly innovative cuisine may be golf-clapped in the press. But when it comes to real life customers shelling out big bucks for a Michelin-starred meal, nobody's mincing words. We're not talking about the trolls who claim to always find glass in their meatloaf, or the people who review a place without even eating at it. We're tapping jet-setting diners who enjoy throwing down for a once-in-a-lifetime meal they'll never forget. Even though, in these cases, they probably wish they could.

Are the oysters and pearls worth their salt at Per Se NYC? Can a good bread basket save a $1,000-a-seat fail? Okay, will someone please find another way to serve the citrus foam at Ristorante Bros' in Italy because that mouth-shaped dish we have to suck it out of is grossing us all out! If you've got to make reservations months in advance, and pay full price before you even set foot inside the front door, take it from these diners — and go somewhere else!

Arzak, San Sebastián, Spain (3 Michelin stars)

Taste the briny flavors of New Basque Cuisine at 3-time Michelin star winner, Restaurante Arzak, in beautiful San Sebastián, Spain. With access to the Bay of Biscay, just adjacent to France, the multi-generational Arzak family has been serving up scarlet prawn with lemongrass and mint, roasted duck with parsnips, and grilled monkfish filet to great acclaim ... or not.

While it's been called a "culinary journey," and described as "extraordinarily original, but also exquisitely plated," not errrbody's shoving so much sunshine in the direction of their Spanish behinds. "Avant-garde?" Yeah, you can go on and relax with the béchamel-dotted whimsy, Arzak. These people just want something to freakin' eat.

One TripAdvisor review claimed, "It took three attempts to deliver one course to a satisfactory level, which meant that my wife and I ate that course while the other twiddled their thumbs." Another sarcastically offered, "If you want to say that you went [to] Arzak, and join the list of fools like me that came here to drop 500 Euros per couple, I invite you to take the ride." And then there was the customer who ignored every all-caps S.O.S. in the bad reviews, and risked it all for a 3 Michelin-starred meal, based on only the glowing accounts. Looking back, this diner recalled, "I thought over a thousand people could not be wrong. I was wrong." Somewhere a chocolate soufflé is slowly deflating.

Ristorante Bros', Lecce, Italy (1 Michelin star)

Hey, bruh! This is Ristorante Bros' by chef and owner, Floriano Pellegrino, set in the southern Italian city of Lecce. (It's in the heel part of the boot, if you're trying to remember what Italy looks like on a map.) Here you'll find local cuisine turned on its head by business partners who also happen to look like models. These beautiful humans earned 1 Michelin star for their avant-garde dishes. And they also received one hell of a viral takedown.

The Michelin Guide's praise of the restaurant's table side "theatrical flourish" wasn't enough to compete with the rant from Geraldine DeRuiter of The Everywhereist, who called her experience, "So uniquely bad, it can only be deemed an achievement." Of course we couldn't wait to dig in. Bon appetít!

Bros' offers 20 or 25-course meals, with zero à la carte. DeRuiter immediately clocked the size of one in a series of extremely small dishes, posting a photo of her husband holding the equivalent of a Goldfish cracker, and adding, "One of the courses — a paper-thin fish cracker — in its entirety." Actually a Goldfish cracker sounds better. As far as the industrial vibe of the place, she described it as "... an underground bunker where one would expect to be interrogated for the disappearance of an ambassador's child." But the icing on the cake might just be her thoughts on the citrus foam that arrived looking like rabies, emerging from a plaster-molded mouth cavity resembling the chef's own lips. No spoon in sight, DeRuiter recalled, "We were told to lick it out of the chef's mouth in a scene that I'm pretty sure was stolen from an eastern European horror film." We give them five stars for terrorizing guests.

Per Se, New York City (3 Michelin stars)

Supposedly the city mouse to California's country French Laundry mouse, chef Thomas Keller's newer outpost Per Se in Columbus Circle, New York City, is positively oozing with Michelin-starred accolades for the chef's 9-course tasting menu where you won't eat the same ingredient twice. With critic Adam Platt reviewing the "coddled eggs tipped with black-truffle purée" for New York Magazine, his dinner guest declared at the time, "I'm sorry. I just can't bring myself to b**** about any of this." Ah, but don't worry. We found some people who could.

One Yelper recalled, "It was the worst $1,000 I ever spent. [...] We left hungry and went to Taco Bell." Another added, "I am left thinking how much amazing pizza I could have bought in NYC for that money." Mmm. Pizza.

Over on TripAdvisor, one user compared the experience to a basic chain restaurant, wondering, "Are we at Per Se or are we at Applebee's?" She probably figured it out once she got the bill. Another panned the whole meal, posting, "I am not a picky eater, [but] one of the dishes — I am not kidding — tasted like vomit." One customer tried her best to find a silver lining amidst her dining disaster, which she ultimately discovered in the bread. "I have to say that was the best part of the meal." We also hear the cookies are pretty good. And that there are bathrooms. And chairs. And they give you napkins. And they don't turn the lights out until you've finished eating and have left the building. And the rats are only outside, not inside. Everything is fine.

The Fat Duck, Bray, Berkshire, England (3 Michelin stars)

Chef and TV personality Heston Blumenthal brings us The Fat Duck on High Street in Berkshire, England. Gilded with 3 Michelin stars, it promises to make us "question everything — especially when it comes to food." Well, it appears that we already have tons of questions. And none of them are good.

Co-owner of the 1 Michelin-starred Restaurant 42, Alexander Varga, praised The Fat Duck's Waldorf salad that arrives in the shape of two savory popsicles instead of actual apples, celery, and mayo. (We're gonna let you marinate on mayo popsicles for a minute.) But despite the sort of Narnia-like mythology that emanates from the Duck, not everybody's falling for the Turkish delight so easily.

"... the highlight of the meal for us was the bread, and toilets," posted one TripAdvisor non-fan. (Making a note: Fat Duck = good bathroom sitch.) Another wrote, "Of the 10 courses we only managed to eat 4 fully, the bread being one of the highlights of the meal." Okay, what is up with this bread? Is it that good? Is literally everything else that bad? 

Noting a deterioration in once-stellar dinner service, another customer recalled, "If I had to compare a restaurant to the demise of the Roman Empire, I would suggest the Fat Duck." Yikes. Okay, last one. And you'll never guess what it's about! "... sadly the most exciting part for us was when they brought a bread basket!!" Looks like somebody could consider rebranding this place into The Fat Loaf bakery. (Already customer approved! P.S. don't change the crapper!)

Joël Robuchon Restaurant, Las Vegas, Nevada (3 Michelin stars)

The most highly-acclaimed spot on the Strip, the Joël Robuchon Restaurant at the MGM Mansion in Las Vegas, Nevada, celebrates the legacy of the late, legendary chef Joël Robuchon. It's also been called the priciest place on the Strip — the kind of fancy restaurant you hit up for proposals, milestone birthdays, and scoring the jackpot on the Wheel of Fortune slot machine you already put $500 of quarters into.

You could celebrate the high life while sipping a fizzy cocktail and draping yourself in the purple velvet curtains of the intimate dining room. Or, you could save your money and listen to these people ...

With multiple poor reviews citing a serious downward spiral in service compared to the outpost's early days on the Strip (one noted the mysterious add-ons, dutifully TripAdvising, "$85 surcharge added on for a fried egg with some black (not even white) truffles? Please!!! This is ridiculous", and things only got worse from there. "My main course which was a sea bass did not taste like sea bass. It tasted like an overcooked tilapia," noted one regretful diner. And this guy minced no words when he claimed, "Food isn't served at the right temperature, flavor is poor, ingredients do not seem fresh, service is cold and distant ... It is horrible, do not go, it's a rip off." On the plus side, the bread and dessert got a few decent shoutouts. Because you have to be a no-carb demon Real Housewife to serve an inedible bread basket.

L'Arpège, Paris, France (3 Michelin stars)

French chef and saxophone player Alain Passard serves up a 3 Michelin star-worthy culinary feast at L'Arpège — also just "Arpège" — in Paris, France, right across the Seine from The Louvre. (That's where the Mona Lisa spends her days taking selfies and wondering whether she's done enough with her life.) But back in the 7th arrondissement, in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower, diners at L'Arpège get busy tucking into the almost ceremonial-grade vegetable-focused plates they saw on "Chef's Table." As famed critic Pete Wells once penned for The New York Times, "If vegetables can have feelings, these did. They tasted happy." A turnip-ish triumph.

But, as could very well be the case with any award-winning restaurant that's been around since the '80s, L'Arpège may have taken L'Dive into L'Dump. That is, at least according to these candid reviews from people who have no onion skin in the game.

After trying to burn off the aftertaste of the meal with mints they found in their Uber, one person posted, "STAY AWAY and go get some take out Chinese." Two other guests were condemned to the depths of the workings of the building while waiting for a table, recalling that they were "... asked to drink our champagne next to the toilet. Yes, next to the toilet." Cheers (flush)! Nearly 40 years into its reign, current L'Arpège might best be described by this ageist comment: "... this restaurant is past its prime." Well, at least the mints in the getaway Uber are good.

Atelier Crenn, San Francisco, California (3 Michelin stars)

It's the sort of place where one might refer to a regular object as an objet d'art [ahb-ZHAY darr], and dinner is described by chef and owner Dominique Crenn as "poetic culinaria." Atelier Crenn, tucked into San Francisco, California, earned its first Michelin star the same year that it opened in 2011. By 2018, Crenn would land 3 Michelin stars, the first female chef to catch them all.

But does everyone enjoy a salad of carrots cut in half and served standing at attention, at quadruple the price of a normal carrot? No, they do not. Let there be green foams, awkward portions, and the leaves of lawn weeds served as an entire course of the meal!

"There were 7 courses of foam, gel, and nothingness served essentially on demitasse spoons, or plates the size of soy sauce bowls at sushi restaurants," wrote one TripAdvisor customer, who wished she had gone out for margs and tacos instead. Unfortunately for all of us, it appears that none of the courses are bread. (We're obsessed with Michelin-starred bread now. You understand.) With many getting up from their tables disappointed, nickel-and-dimed, and still hungry, a diner noted, "One 'pre-dessert' arrived with a small tree in a large stone bowl, just to present a menthol palate cleanser the size of a small marshmallow." In our dimension, they're called after dinner mints. They're usually presented in a communal bowl with a spoon. And they are free — not budgeted into a $2,200 meal for four. Over on Yelp, a woman summed up her bummer experience, writing, "The whole night felt like a scene from 'The Menu,' if only they'd kill us sooner."

Beckon, Denver, Colorado (1 Michelin star)

Brand spankin' new to the Michelin scene, Beckon in Denver, Colorado earned its first star in 2023. Chef Duncan Holmes' outpost rotates its menu through the seasons, and has been hailed as "Scandi-cool" by the Michelin Guide. And Condé Nast Traveler mused, "Your jaw will drop at the intricacies of each dish on the tasting menu, your palate will be stimulated by every sip of paired wine." LOL ... not if you're Terry S. from Denver.

Terry posted to TripAdvisor, "The dessert was some mediocre mishmash." Maybe he was talking about the lemon dish with the mishmash of crunchy meringue. While Terry also noted that the Beckon team was, indeed, talented, Yelpers weren't here to make friends. One diner posted, "I'd prefer a classier atmosphere and a less obvious grab for my dollar," with another chiming in, "We decided to give the lamb course a chance. I took one bite — gross." It appears that the lamb owed her money or something.

A veggie purist commented on the plating of one dish, recalling, "They served both carrots and zucchini with stubs on em," with another admitted non-expert sharing, "I thought the beets overpowered the yak meat [and] the marshmallow itself for dessert was grainy." But one Google review perfectly buttoned up a bad night out, describing, "We left hungry but $480 poorer. [...] Tiny, tiny portions that took longer to hear about than eat." Stay strong. We'll always have Uber mints and bread.