Gourmet America's top 50--PDX has 2
It's just a list and of course always and already subject to dispute. Glad to see 2 Portland restaurants on the list: Higgins and Paley's Place. Would like to see Wildwood and clarklewis on the list. Others? Hmmmmmmmm. Check it out:
Heather, In Seattle, Gourmet rated Canlis as the 19th best restaurant in America. Locally it wouldn't make the top 50.
I believe this is a PR campaign, plain and simple. I think the editors must have voted while in the bar at their local Olive Garden....
They're just opinions. And they can be starting points for conversation. That's kind of why I'm here, why I'm writing and reading--I'm interested in others' opinions and other sources of information.
I eat out frequently and am interested in food writing as featured in magazines, books, blogs and online food boards. I have my own strong opinions about restaurant rankings (my personal preferences, the dubious value of any one group or person's list) but it sparks my interest.
When I travel to a place I don't know, Gourmet is just one source that I consult when thinking about where to eat. So I think a national list can be helpful in that way.
And locally, I don't agree with Gourmet's picks for top eats in Portland. But they are still solid choices. I haven't eaten at Canlis, but sorry that they did such a poor job with Seattle. I don't think it's *just* a PR campaign, and I don't think the editors were at Olive Garden when choosing (is there even one near the editorial offices?)--but hey, that's just me. But I'm not looking for my own opinions to be reflected back to me in magazines or even in online forums. But I am looking for conversation and for information and opinions.
Leonardo and Walters, your comments were thought-provoking, if not necessarily thoughtful or, as Ben Franklin might call it, "productive conversation." If someone suggests a conversation that you don't want to have, that's ok, there are plenty of other posts to pick and choose from.
As luck would have it, I finally ate at Paley's two nights ago, after some years of anticipation. Without going on at great length, suffice it to say that the fries and the dessert were good. The rest of the food ran the gamut from shockingly bad to okay, and the service was indifferent. I won't be back.
I felt the same way. It's a surprise when there's such a huge gap between expectations fueled by accolades and the actual experience that you end up having.
At Paley's place I had shrimp that was woefully overcooked--all that is sweet and tender had been lost long before it hit my plate. To be fair, my partner had sturgeon that was fabulous--smoked on premises. But overall, we felt underwhelmed by the rest of the meal--and at the end, that's a not a good feeling to have after spending so much on food and wine pairings. The service was nice.
I've had ok food at Higgins, a memorable panzanella, but never had a nice service experience there (after 3 tries), and for that reason I'll sometimes go for the bar menu but not for dinner. And I think there's too much smoke and too much salt on the charcuterie plate. But I was inspired by a perfect chowder that I had there this past winter-cubed potatoes and bacon and mussels and corn, all sitting together with a bit of cream--something about the ratio of the ingredients seemed perfect, though it was hearty, there was a chef's restraint there--something that I miss when I'm at home and just throwing things together.
I like the ideas about these places--that Paley's is a restaurant in a house--that's charming. They both help define pacific NW cuisine and etc. If Greg Higgins and his restaurant were a book, I'd want to read it. I've just never had that much fun or great food across the board at either place. But I know this is subjective and I'm glad that others have had great experiences at these places.
I found myself flying to Cleveland Ohio this past weekend. In the midst of my usual pre-trip, late-packing chaos, I did stop to try and figure out where I might want to eat. I booked Parker's New American Bistro after finding it on the Gourmet list and checking out the consumer posts on Citysearch. Parker's was billed as, "The Alice Waters of the midwest." His vegetables were said to outshine the main dish but I was sorely disappointed in the all of the food. Our server didn't hesitate to recommend the pork when I asked for her recommendation between that and another dish. Cutting through the pork was hard work and I was non plussed by the accompanying veggies - boiled or steamed beets, a squash puree and some potatoes. They were fine but literally, nothing special. I suppose it is a lesson learned. I'm sure I will continue to consult Gourmet and other sources when looking for options in unfamiliar areas but I will just have to reign in my expectations. I would much rather have them exceded than not met at all.
The Seattle selection for that top 50 list is very disappointing. I'm glad to see Cafe Juanita there as that had to be my best meal all summer but Canlis as the only other selection for the area seems odd.
Incidentally, there is an Olive Garden around the corner from Gourmet's editorial offices although I am confident that the editors aren't dining there.
I was in Cleveland last month and some locals recommeded a place that was fantastic. If you get back to the Cleveland area again soon try this. The name is Downtown 140 and it's in a small town called Hudson, about 30 miles southeast of downtown Cleveland. They had a great combination of small plates that I shared with a friend, and they had some regular entree size plates that some of our party enjoyed as well. The wine list was incredible with many great "by the glass" options available.
Paley's and Higgins are both overrated. They are restaurants that have been lauded for years by the Portland food establishment but have not been doing anything truly interesting or exciting and instead, have been resting on their laurels.