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Wednesday, April 05, 2006
The Chronicle Top 100

The list, the list! It's inescapable. The Chronicle's Top 100 Bay Area Restaurants. While that's the official title, the editor of the San Francisco Chronicle Magazine in her column refers to it as "Michael Bauer's Top 100 restaurants". It's been said many in the food department have their hand in compiling the list, not just Bauer. Not having been there I can't say for sure.

Bauer begins his cover story by trying to refute Daniel Patterson's assertion (made in the New York Times some months back) that the Bay Area's insistence on fresh, seasonal cooking was suffocating creativity in restaurant kitchens. Bauer takes a poke at "molecular gastronomy" and seems to say that the list is proof enough that we are creative. But how do the trends mentioned--pizza, improved wine lists, cocktails and raw fish equal creativity?

No doubt everyone has their opinion about what's wrong with the list. Here's mine.

1. Either make it the "best" restaurants or make it something else. Four star restaraurants were left off in favor of three star restaurants. That makes no sense to me.

2. Don't try to make it inclusive of expensive and inexpensive restaurants. That's not fair to either. We already have the Bargain Bites edition of the list. Comparing La Taqueria with Gary Danko makes no sense to me.

3. The locations outside of San Francisco are given short shrift.

4. Some restaurants are good but are they REALLY "top" ? The ones that stick out for me are Matterhorn, House of Prime Rib and Viks Chaat Corner. They are each good, but not what I would consider "best". But maybe top means something else in this context?

5. Why is a bakery on the list? That's not a restaurant. C'mon, serving good sandwiches should not rank a spot on the list.

6. Hype. Sorry to say it, but there's plenty of it on this list. Places that are interesting, hip and cool but certainly not the best food in town. I won't mention names, but I'm sure local diners can pick out plenty on the list in this category.

Ok, my griping about the list is officially over! If you want to follow some more discussions of the list check out:


Craigslist Food Forum


or continue the conversation in the comments section of this post...I look forward to hearing your opinions.


Anonymous Diane said...

Great critique - thanks for getting the dialogue started! I totally agree with your points #1, #3, #4 and #6. But I disagree with #2 and #4 for basically the same reason - Many of the best (and best in absolute sense of the word, not "best cheap") meals I have had have been at inexpensive restaurants.

And Vik's - well I say (only half joking) that I moved from SF to Berkeley to be closer to Viks. I used to make pilgimages there every weekend for lunch. It's the food I crave when I've been away from the Bay Area for too long - tasty, inexpensive and soul-satisfying. For me, in my own personal solipsistic universe, no "best of" list would be complete without Viks. To short it because it isn't a white tablecloth, three star location would be wrong IMO. Perhaps the only thing a bit off about including it on "the list" is setting expectations as similar to the more "high end" locations on the list.

4/06/2006 8:38 AM

Blogger shuna fish lydon said...

I'm sure everyone already knows what my critiques are concerning.

The blatant omission of desserts and the Pastry Chefs who made them. I saw about 5 pannacottas listed and almost nothing else.

No wonder why some our best chefs have departed San Francisco; in a city as "food-rich" as ours where is all the press which supports those who create it?

4/06/2006 10:46 PM

Blogger Raniandraja said...

I am happy to see Canteen, and a few pizza places new to the list this year. I am excited to try Bar Crudo, Medecine Eatstation, and Coco 500. Delfina is always great.

Some of the best restaurants are inexpensive. Vik's is full of soul, integrity, flavor, and passion. I would include Viks in my top list alongside and above many 3 and 4 star restaurants regardless of price.

4/07/2006 2:42 AM

Blogger Impulse Response said...

A-MEN on Vik's. I actually like Chaat Cafe better for chaat, and Kabana is way better for Mughal cuisine. Its inclusion on the list tells me Bauer hasn't been east in years.

4/10/2006 12:41 AM


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