Frank Bruni of The New York Times recently left New York and to do “an intensive stretch of dining elsewhere in the country.” After all the love from The Times over the past year, I thought he would make it to Portland, especially since he was right up the road in Seattle.
Instead, he says “I bypassed Portland — where, for example, Le Pigeon might have lured me — because readers were introduced to new restaurants there in an article by Eric Asimov last fall.”
His generalized conclusions: NY restaurants are expensive, NY is “the finest restaurant city in the nation, with an unrivaled range and depth of options”, and “New York is absurdly blessed.”
His list of top ten restaurants in the nation, appear to be based on one visit, which in my opinion is a dubious sampling. Bruni even refers to this himself:
Certain judgment calls — leaving Ad Hoc out of the top 10, for example — were tougher than others. I happened to visit Ad Hoc, which serves the same predetermined meal to every diner, on one of its every-other-Monday fried chicken nights, and I had some of the best fried chicken of my life. But the bean salad before it and the chocolate chip cookies after weren’t nearly as impressive.
Then he dances around the issue here:
“Each had just one meal to make its case, and each was encouraged to show its best face, in that I pointed myself toward dishes that were reputed to be, or should be, the restaurant’s strong points.”
Here is his list:
- CENTRAL MICHEL RICHARD (Washington)
- COCHON (New Orleans)
- COI (San Francisco)
- FEARING’S (Dallas)
- FRAîCHE (Culver City, Calif.)
- GUY SAVOY (Las Vegas)
- MICHAEL’S GENUINE FOOD & DRINK (Miami)
- O YA (Boston)
- TILTH (Seattle)
- UBUNTU (Napa, Calif.).
Because of the Portland snub, I will NEVER buy The Times again (except for Monday’s, because that’s the easiest crossword puzzle day, and Tuesday’s (technology), Wednesday (food section), Friday (movie reviews), and Sunday’s, because if you have the Sunday Times in bed with you, one doesn’t really mind that no one else is there.
Mehhhh! Who needs ‘um? (So long as I can steal the Magazine from our neighbors’ on Sundays…) No, but in all seriousness. Reactions? Any one have any first-hand experiences from his “it” list?
Hi, there, LRBC — you can HAVE my Sunday NYTs magazines – I never have time to read ’em. I’d be happy for them to have a good home. I’m the senior citizen from SE Portland, fan of the LRBC who came in to the LRBC last Friday for lunch.
Give me a break. The Times has had a hard on for Portland for like a year now. It’s kind of ridiculous to say it’s a snub when you look at how many features they’ve written about Portland recently. For the record, Chicago, Los Angeles and Philadelphia were also “snubbed”.
And another thing. I’ve eaten at two of these restaurants. Cochon is great. Central not so much.
Kevin Allman says
I think it’s an interesting list, but it might’ve better been titled “A Few Restaurants Frank Bruni Enjoyed After Eating There Once.” The editorial desk seemed to have trouble defining what it was, too, based on the article’s various heds and subheds. Is it:
“Searching America to rank 10 of the country’s most acclaimed, ambitious, promising or intriguing new restaurants.”
Or is it:
“A coast-to-coast ranking of 10 of the country’s top new restaurants.”
The first description seems more accurate than the second one; Bruni admits he sampled only 15 restaurants to get his Top 10 list.
Anyway, the only one I’ve tried has been Cochon, which is very good and also largely responsible for the current pork belly craze. Like Beast, it ain’t for vegetarians, much less vegans — one of the boucherie apps is a pickled pork tongue and crispy pig ear salad.
Food Dude says
Guest, I meant that tongue-in-cheek. I know they love Portland.
Kevin, I had a hard time writing this piece, because The Times was so inconsistent. I started out with “new” restaurants, but then changed it since they were talking about older places. I didn’t think it was very well written.
Does that mean I can have your Thursday issue? Because I can’t miss the Style section!
Guest #3: Just FYI, FRAîCHE (Culver City, Calif.) is in L.A.
I agree with Kevin. It’s one guys assessment of his personal favorites. And I agree with you too, FD, it was not very well-written or researched article.
Wanted to point out that it’s not a list of Bruni’s top 10 in the country — it’s just his 10 favorites of the 15 places he ate on his “intensive” adventure. He would have avoided a lot of criticism had he not tried to rank them.