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Feb 6, 2001 12:38 PM

Top 100 Restaurants

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O.K. Michael Bauer's Top 100 Bay Area Restaurants came out last Sunday in the Chronicle Pink Section ---- you can also get the list from Bay-area Chowhounds - what is this list all about??? Yes, some of Bauer's top 100 are great but most suck and what is not included is beyond the beyond. What gives? I would be interested in other's response. Who controls the restaurant scene in the Bay-area? - Michael Bauer? - Give me a break!!!! The list is a joke!! How do we fight back? The only decent food critic in the Bay-area is Derk Richardson of the Bay Guardian --- Derk is also the best jazz and rock n roll critic. My kind of guy - food, jazz, and R n' R.

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  1. I'm the last person to defend Michael Bauer, but I think a lot of us would like to know what you think sucks about the list.

    In general, I'm less than thrilled with the common practice of saying something sucks and not saying why.

    10 Replies
    1. re: Larry Stein

      I agree wholeheartedly with your dislike for condemnation without elaboration.

      That said, my impression, based on a very cursory reviewis that there are a lot of Louis Renault choices ("round up the usual suspects"). I'm sure many or most of these really are among the best restaurants in the Bay Area (Chez Panisse is a no-brainer, for example), but there's a suspicious number of famous restaurants that have had downhill alerts on this board.

      1. re: Tom Hilton

        I just looked at the top 100 list last weekend, and most of the seem to be decent choices, but there are a few places that are good but not necessarily among the best.

        I enjoyed Ella's, Park Chow, Globe and Cosmopolitan Cafe but think better of a number of other places. For instance, where's Universal Cafe?

        I'm tempted to pick Chapeau over Clementine, although I am very fond of Clementine. Foreign Cinema is decent, but I've also had better for less (unless it's improved over the last year or so). The Chinese places look like a usual laundry list - I don't think I've seen new places on that list for ages. Thep Phanom is a good pick for Thai even though it's an obvious choice.

        I wonder why they picked Thirsty Bear - I've never been there myself, but their review wasn't too enthusiatic. (Personally, I would have gone for Zarzuela, but maybe Thirsty Bear is really that great - what do people think?)

        Some might also remember a thread here several months ago about why La Tacqueria isn't the best.

        I do think that Kabuto is a good pick but only if you sit at the bar. I'm also grateful that they've missed Hama-Ko, since it's a really small place. Delfina, Dine and Plumpjack deserves to be up there, but I'd love to see Casa Aguila in the list too (even though I hear it's not truly authentic, I like the food).

        1. re: Limster

          I'd have liked to see The Helmand, a great Afghani restaurant, which is my own favorite. Also La Vie, a Vietnamese place with fantastic roast crab.

          And of course I wish my friend's restaurant had made the list. ;-)

          1. re: Tom Hilton
            Melanie Wong

            Not sure if I'm remembering correctly, but I think The Helmand used to be on the top 100 list. Why La Taqueria stays on and Helmand is dropped is one of those mysteries.

            Friday night I tried Kabul Afghan Cuisine in Redwood City for the first time. Earthier food than The Helmand but very good too in its own way. My grilled lamb loin chop was absolutely perfect. Service was very good and more attentive than much more expensive places. This is more of a family restaurant atmosphere.

            1. re: Melanie Wong

              If I'm down in Redwood City, I'll try Kabul. Sounds good.

              There's an Afghan place in San Rafael I've heard good things about--I think it's called Bamyan. Have you been there? I thought it might be worth a stop on the way home from playing up north sometime.

              1. re: Tom Hilton
                Melanie Wong

                I've started a new thread.

              2. re: Melanie Wong

                Yes - I believe Helmand was on the list last year and the year before.

                Actually, I'm glad that a number of restaurants that I like are not on that list. It's selfish, but I'm not very keen on having my favorite places swamped. I like Chaz the way it is; a nice bustle, but not too crowded, even on a Friday evening, where I can simply walk in without reservations and find a table. Same goes for Hama-Ko, where I have a regular spot at the bar. I'm also glad that the little La Villa Poppi is not there too, considering how small their dining room is. Same for L'Osteria del Forno, which is already quite crowded as it is.

                Hypothetically, I would be rather unhappy if I had to lose a place at Kabuto's sushi bar and miss my chance at some good uni just because someone else who read the chron's list wanted a bunch of California rolls. A California roll isn't going to be that much different at a lesser sushi place (it's fake crab afterall), but for something like uni, the difference is significant.

                1. re: Limster
                  Melanie Wong

                  Thanks for confirming that. Yes, one's always torn between wanting your favorites to be "validated" and not wanting them overrun and ruined by the need to appeal to popular tastes. Was l'Osteria dropped from the list too or is it on the bargain bites list?

                  1. re: Melanie Wong

                    I did remember seeing L'Osteria del Forno on the bargains list, but it wasn't on the top 100. Same goes for Baker St Bistro. Actually, I'd pick Le Charm over Baker St. Bistro.

                2. re: Melanie Wong

                  I agree with Kabul's extremely attentive service -- they habitually refill everyone's water glasses after every couple sips....

                  However, I had a very, very mediocre lunch there today. The onion and lamb dumplings had a very weak filling, almost devoid of seasoning and flavor. Pine nuts, coriander, braising the lamb in a reduction sauce perhaps even with a splash of zin would have helped immensely.

                  Most disappointing was that the dumplings were topped with a CANNED vegetable medley of peas, carrots, limas, potatoes, and green beans! They were then topped with an agreeable, slightly spicy tomato sauce and yogurt.

                  The sauteed eggplant, on the other hand, was tasty, topped with a tomato-based meat sauce and yogurt.

                  I agree it's more of a family place -- would like to see more Afghani restaurants around!