SF Chronicle's 2006 Top 100 Restaurants list
- Robert Lauriston Apr 2, 2006 04:36 PM
Changes from last year:
Citizen Thai and the Monkey
Kabuto A&S (closed)
re: Niki Rothman
Close! It was SF Weekly, not the Guardian. And he wasn't mentioned as a
"crony", but "colleague". She used that word because Robert's now one of
the freelance reviewers for the Weekly.
It's great to see a lot of hard work here turning into a professional
gig. But "foodie"?!? Oh the shame! :)
Actually I've been a full-time professional writer for 15+ years.
I hadn't done any restaurant reviews recently, but only because the right gig hadn't come along. Bill Wyman offered me full-time jobs several times when he was editing that section, but at the time I couldn't afford the cut in salary. The 15 columns a year of this gig are about as much as I can handle on top of my day job and still have a life.
re: Frosty Melon
I am a new follower of Bauer and SF food reviews (though not new at eating out and loving food). Are his articles to be considered as food only reviews? I am younger, in my early 20's, and when I think about food and dining I think about so many other variables than noise level, banquet capacity and the taste of food. Service is very much integrated in my thoughts as well as value. A high price meal would not be an issue if I knew the money were well worth it.
I feel as though the top 100 is nothing more than citysearch's home page with a bit more info. I do love that the best dishes are included in the write up, but I need more information about these restaurants. It is almost unhelpful this article.
I hope I do not come off as too critical. I do love it and love having these areticles, I just personally need more info.
If you go to the on-line list that Robert linked and click on the restaurant's name it will link you to Bauer's review history. In some cases the comprehensive review is pretty old but it would be a lot of work to rewrite full reviews for all 100 restaurants every year.
Best to use the top 100 as a starting point, and then search the web, chowhound, food blogs and other publications for more information.
Michael Bauer quite definitely takes a broad focus in his reviews. He likes upscale decor, fancy linens, and polished service--wrote a whole article once on the decor and furnishings at Michael Mina.
A place with consistently great food and so-so service etc. can still get fairlyhigh marks, but he tends to let the other reviewers handle those places.
i know of many people in the restaurant industry who consider him a joke - and very publicly so. There was an article written about him a number of years ago in San Francisco Magazine about his lack of credentials, bad writing skills and long list of enemies in the business.
he has been known to make reservations under his own name - a huge no-no, as well as making his presence very known when he is eating. Sitting in the front room with a large group of people, wearing loud clothing and going with other "celebrity" friends in the business. Whereas other well-reputed restaurant critics will go to restaurants under pseudonyms and in disguise.
I mean -- just read his articles! They are written in the narrative voice that a first-time writer might have -- certainly not one that is possessed by the head of the food section in the Sf Chronicle. Compare and contrast an article written by him - and an article written by Frank Bruni. As a San Francisco resident, i find his position in power insulting!
As far as his choices for the Top 100 - i agreed with some, and others angered me.
Limon - i had an absolutely horrible experience there, and i've read many accounts in this forum about their disappointments as well.
Cesar - i personally don't like the restaurant - due to its "small plates" which tend to be very overpriced for what you're getting.
Mr. Bauer has repeatedly clamined that "Chow" is one of the best restaurants in the city - but i find the menu spreading itself too thin and trying to please everyone, but not really doing anything well.
there are many restaurants which he has written scathing reports about, and not quite specified what it was that he disliked about them other than minor decor issues and bad reactions to service.
Everyone in the industry knows that Michael Bauer LOVES chicken and mashed potatoes - so restaurants have been known to have both of those items on during their first few opening menus - when all critics flock to restaurants.
Although i do agree with some of his picks, i think he tends to veer towards trends and will like certain restaurants because they treat him like a star.
re: Frosty Melon
Well, all three Chows made this year's top 100.
And there's this from his 1997 review:
"That oven turns out some of the best pizza anywhere."
"The food, with the price factored in, is some of the best in the city."
"The thick hamburger ... also rivals the best in the city"
"I remember fondly one of the best dishes I had at Stars on a recent
visit, and I found something similar at Chow for far less than half the price"
People in the restaurant business spread rumors like that about all high-profile restaurant critics.
I'm sure Bauer is occasionally recognized and given special treatment as a result--seems likely that happened at La Suite, which he dropped from the list this year.
I don't find the stories of his making reservations under his own name creditable. That would be a blatant violation of the paper's policy, "Chronicle critics make every attempt to remain anonymous."
re: Robert Lauriston
I work in the business and can say that the times Bauer has come into our restaurant it has been under another name. The thing is most restaurants have his photo and keep an eye out for him. M. Bauer is also pretty consistent in mentioning if the people in the restaurant recognize him, which seems pretty fair of him.