Thursday, February 11, 2010

30 most important U.S. restaurants?

The 30 Most Important Restaurants in the United States and their ratings (click on the chart to see it full size), according to Opinionated About Dining:

1. The French Laundry, Yountville, Calif., 100
2. Per Se, New York, 99.73
3. Masa, New York, 99.00
4. Manresa, Los Gatos, Calif., 98.53
5. Blue Hill at Stone Barns, Pocantico Hills, N.Y., 98.50
6. Mini-Bar, Washington, D.C., 98.48
7. Urasawa, Beverly Hills, Calif., 98.43
8. Jean Georges, New York, 98.30
9. Alinea, Chicago, 97.78
10. Corton, New York, 97.53
11. McCrady's, Charleston, S.C., 97.50
12. Le Bernardin, New York, 97.17
13. Sushi Yasuda, New York, 97.08
14. Guy Savoy, Las Vegas, 97.00
15. Schwa, Chicago, 96.71
16. Kuruma Sushi, New York, 96.43
17. Eleven Madison Park, New York, 96.27
18. Momofuku Ko, New York, 96.26
19. Komi, Washington, D.C., 96.11
20. Cyrus, Healdsburg, Calif., 95.93
20. Providence, Los Angeles, 95.93
22. Marinus, Carmel, Calif., 95.81
23. Town House, Chilhowie, Va, 95.73
24. Coi, San Francisco, 95.72
25. Hugo's, Portland, Me., 95.66
26. Bouley, New York, 95.45
27. Aubergine, Carmel-By-the-Sea, Calif., 95.39
28. L' Atelier de Joel Robuchon, New York, 95.28
29. O Ya, Boston, 95.16
30. Elements, Princeton, N.J., 95.04.

So where did this survey come from? Here's the bio of the Opinionated About Dining blog creator:

The OAD weblog is dedicated to publishing the dining adventures of Steve Plotnicki. Steve has been involved in dining since the age of 14 when he weaned himself off his mother's kosher cooking by forcing himself to eat White Castle hamburgers and Veal Parmigian. Now, decades later, not only is he a frequent visitor to the greatest restaurants in the U.S. and Europe, but he still manages to eat his fair share of simple food like a good hamburger or of course, a juicy pastrami sandwich.

Steve is a strong proponent of dining as a hobby. As a way of promoting the hobby, Steve moderates a discussion forum group which also goes by the name Opinionated About Dining. In addition to Steve's reviews, the OAD weblog will also publish reviews written by various members of the forum discussion group. Steve firmly believes that food criticism as it is practiced by the mainstream media is often compromised by their self interests. He feels that if you give knowledgable diners a platform where they can speak their minds, without the pressures of trying to please either publisher or reader, then diners will have access to better information than any of the well-known guides to dining can offer.

Steve lives in Manhattan with his wife and twin teenage sons. He has a day job in the entertainment industry with offices in New York and London. More importantly, he gets hungry every day.

I couldn't find the survey methodology, so I'll just add my 2 cents: The French Laundry, site of possibly the most expensive meal I've ever consumed, should be considered four hours of entertainment by the waitstaff, who appear en masse with each course and explain each dish. Of course, the great food is the star, and it's a really fun place to go as a group for lunch. Yet, I think I enjoyed the No. 20 place on the list, Cyrus, much more as a restaurant. The meal took about half the time, the waitstaff was attentive without drama, and the place was very warm and inviting. It's also $90 less per meal.

I'm looking forward to trying some of the East Coast restaurants on this list, once our budget recovers from unexpected snow expenses.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

No electricity? No problem

A disclaimer: No electricity during a snowstorm also means no heat, which, believe it or not, suppresses one's appetite. Or maybe it was the coffee and hot chocolate consumed to make one FEEL warm that suppresses the appetite. Regardless, two days and a night without heat was all we could take, especially as the firewood dwindled away. We decamped into town.

Yet, I really enjoyed this dish on the first night we were without power and I thought I'd share it. I intend to make it again once the heat comes back on. Along with Meyer lemon pudding cakes (I have not forgotten them!).

Scallops coriander

3/4 pound scallops (the bigger, the better; look for creamy to rosy colored ones)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Ground coriander (if you have seeds, toast them a little first in a cast-iron pan over medium heat until you can smell them, cool then grind)
Sea salt
Whole pepper

  • Rinse the scallops well and pat dry. Toss with the olive oil. Season scallops lightly with the ground coriander, and grinds of sea salt and whole pepper (go very easy on the pepper as not to overwhelm the delicate scallops), and toss again.
  • On the camp stove, heat a medium cast-iron skillet to very hot. Add the scallops, turn the heat to low, then stir the scallops around to brown them on all sides. Cook about 10 minutes until just firm.
  • Serve immediately with a salad of baby greens and arugula, cooked baby carrots tossed with brown sugar and ginger, and a side of lemon orzo (or rice). Any juice from the pan is a good addition to the orzo or rice.

Many thanks to Stuart Leavenworth, who posted a menu on his Facebook page:

What's for dinner? Corriander chicken with preserved Meyer lemon, kale and cous cous.

It inspired me to try coriander on scallops.