more lists! the roundup

by brendan on October 5, 2006

this seems to be the month for lists and ratings – the two most recent that i haven’t had a chance to write about are the gourmet top 50 restaurant list and the sf chronicle’s 20th anniversary list of the best recipe from each of the last 20 years – it’s like christmas came early!

so let’s start with the gourmet list (check out the full list) – to start, of course homage must be paid to the #1 restaurant on the list, alinea in chicago. a dish from alineai’ve reading about it quite a bit, my most recent exposure being this article from the nytimes sunday magazine. the head chef is grant achatz, one of new breed of chefs being practicing molecular gastronomy, bringing science into the kitchen. this has been a growing trend, and from everything i have been reading and hearing, one that is allowing some chefs to make some amazing dishes. personally, i am all for pushing the boundaries in the kitchen and seeing what happens, and hopefully i will get the opportunity to taste the results at alinea soon.

as for the rest of the list, no major shocks here. i have to imagine that putting together a list of the best restaurants in a region is tough enough, but the whole country? what a job – a job i want of course – but a tough job nonetheless (did i mention i mention it was a job i want?). being from san francisco, the first thing i do is scan for restaurants in the bay area, and we had some good representation in the top five with chez panisse coming in at the #2 slot and the french laundry at #3. i did a double take when i saw that, especially since the french laundry recently received 3 stars from the folks at michelin and chez panisse only got one. again, it depends on the people doing the judging and what you are looking for – if it is refinement, perfect flavoring, perfect plating, perfect service, basically perfect everything, then the french laundry will win over chez panisse every time. if it’s about simple foods and flavors and you’re not worried about how it sits on the plate, then chez panisse will win that battle. again, it’s a tough job comparing apples to oranges. other bay area picks: cyrus in healdsburg at #15, l’auberge carmel in carmel at #20, and zuni cafe in san francisco at #37.

now on to the chronicle. . . since i live in sf, much of my food media news is west coast, and more specifically, sf bay area, centric. that’s just the way it be. . .and i must say even though the chronicle is a terrible paper for the most part (this is coming from a sf native, i hate to say it, but i’ll take the ny times any day), three things stand out, the food section, the datebook (daily sf gossip and a crossword puzzle, um…heaven), and the food section. i rarely disagree with the reviews of michael bauer, the head reviewer, and i’ve made quite a few recipes from the food section, and they are spot on. so without further ado, check out the listhere and tell me what you think, and more importantly, what you made! for my money, the twice baked goat cheese soufflĂ© looks like the early winner as my personal favorite.

Previous post:

Next post: