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"World Class" USA Restaurant List? Name your nominees

I'd like to know what people think are the WORLD CLASS restaurants located in the US.

World Class? ... meaning they can hold their own with the other great restaurants of the world in all aspects... food, wine, service, atmosphere.

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  1. Daniel
    Jean-Georges
    The Inn at Little Washington

    3 Replies
    1. re: pikawicca

      I'll bite on Daniel and Jean-Georges, but The Inn doesn't rate IMO. I believe Blackberry farm is better than the Inn but even it is not "world class".

      1. re: pikawicca

        Inn at Little Washington's food has gone downhill in recent years. I'd pop over to the DC board to read about it.

        1. re: jpschust

          i had an excellent dinner at inn at little washington in october.

          i second this.

        1. Le Manoir au Quat' Saisons, Great Milton, Oxford, UK.

          I believe it was the first restaurant in the UK to hold a Michelin star.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Dorothy

            Dorothy, I believe the OP is looking for restaurants in the US, not the UK.

          2. Tallent in Bloomington, IN. You do not have to be in one of those huge cities or destiations to experience world class food like you get at Tallent and Dave and Krissy are so talllllented that they don't have resort to gimicks like foams to produce wonderful and interesting food. If you haven't been you are missing out on something very special.

            5 Replies
            1. re: Candy

              You are officially my hero for mentioning this place. I left IU before this place opened (I'm trying to remember what was in its space beforehand). This place is truly excellent. Bloomington has some amazing food for being such a little town. I'd also almost put Elements in Indy on that list too.

              1. re: jpschust

                It was on Kirkwood in a cinder block building that had been a diner of sorts at one time. They have moved out of there and are now on Walnut n what was the old Faris market north of what was the Princess theater. Gorgeous new space. I've not been since the re-open but will go in the next month or so. Just too much going on. They have not yet updated their website but I'm sure they will. C'mon back.

                1. re: Candy

                  I look forward to it. Also, while not world class, other favorite Bloomington eats include Snow Lion, Bombay House, Aver's Pizza (I still dream about the cream and crimson), Int'l Market for shwarma, and Dagwoods where I worked for a summer :)

                  1. re: jpschust

                    MMmmmmm Bombay House. Limestone Grill does some really good stuff with their specials and sadly Truffles just is not what it was since they lost their original chef. It was really fine back then.

                    1. re: Candy

                      You know one of the line guys from Truffles then became the top guy at Trojan, and now I'm not sure where he is. Fischer I think was his name. Really wonderful guy.

            2. Encore - Downtown Memphis

              1. Eleven Madison Park (I might be in a minority here but I think it's amazing)
                Moto (Even if you don't like the food, it's certainly world class)
                Any of the Keller Restaurants

                1 Reply
                1. re: jpschust

                  i had stellar service at eleven madison, but would not put the food or wine list in the world-class category.

                2. From Chicago

                  Cutting-edge cuisine:
                  Alinea
                  Avenues
                  Moto (so cutting-edge it bleeds)

                  Used to be cutting-edge, but still contenders IMO:
                  Tru
                  Trotter's

                  Perhaps the best Mexican restaurant in the USA, altho quality of service somewhat damaged by success:
                  Topolobampo

                  Up-and-coming:
                  Schwa (just try to get a reservation!)

                  1. Gary Danko in San Fran and Charlie Trotter's in Chicago. I also agree with The French Laundry recommendation.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: chickstein

                      I believe Trotters and French Laundry are worthy of consideration, but Gary Danko?
                      I haven't been impressed with his place so haven't been in the past couple of years. My guess is it hasn't changed much, but please advise if there's been a renaissance. I don't think he's been as impressive as when he was at the Ritz, where he showed some brilliance.

                      1. re: WineTravel

                        I think Trotter's was worthy a few years ago, not so much now.

                      1. re: MegMD

                        I'm tempted to add Faidley's just to be contrary, best crabcakes on earth.

                            1. re: Greyhoundgrrl

                              yikes. good place, but I was asking about rests that were "world class". Sorry, don't think No 9 fits the bill. Interesting choice, since you're fav meal was at L'Astrance, you obviously know great food. I do agree with you there, that is my favorite restaurant in Paris... amazing spot... and one of the best places anywhere.

                            2. I think you need to better define "world class." The food I had at No 9 Park was better than the food I had at the French Laundry. Go figure. If you are talking about bells and whistles than yes, No 9 is probably out of the running. But for pure food... I dunno. The morcela sausages I had off a grill made of an old oil barrel in a stranger's backyard in the Azores were better than the blood sausages at Salumi. They were honestly "world class."

                              I guess I don't understand the point of the question, if the same names (FL, Per Se, etc) are going to be everyone's standard answers.

                              1. The point of the question is that I was wondering what restaurants in the US people thought were in the same league as other restaurants around the world that are considered great. For the record, yes, I would include Per Se... but not so sure about French Laundry.

                                I too have had some great dishes at No. 9 and at places that B.Lynch cooked at before she opened that place. She is a great chef. Unfortunately, she doesn't spend as much time at No 9 as she used to. No. 9 is one of the best spots in Boston, but is not a contender in the world class category. No place in Boston is, IMO.

                                Ok, lets define it better. Would you compare L'Astrance to No. 9? Im talking about the great restaurants of the world that have it all... great food/execution, wine, service, atmosphere. Places like Troisgros in Roanne, Marc Veyrat in Annecy, Hotel d'Ville in Crissier, etc. You can make a great case for L'Astrance. It's better than the bigger names in Paris ie. Taillevant, Alain Ducasse, etc.... and its better than The French Laundry too.

                                1. Chez Panisse?

                                  how would one include per se, but not French Laundry? that doesn't make sense to me

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: risottoman

                                    Im not saying I wouldn't include FL ... just hedging a bit. Per Se has got it a lot more together than the FL. Have to think a bit about it. Certainly wouldn't call Per Se "FL East".

                                    BTW, love your ID: "risottoman" is great.

                                  2. WineTravel, what's your opinion of Babbo? I don't get to these restaurants much but I'd think that Babbo is world class.

                                    Also, any opinions about sushi, do US restaurants compete?

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: steinpilz

                                      I like Babbo. I do, however, think it gets more praise than it deserves. Certainly not in the world class category. Babbo does have a great Italian wine list. Actually, of all of Mario's places (haven't been to Del Posto) I prefer LUPA. Its more casual, great food, more of a "real" and relaxed setting than Babbo. The small back room has great light... perfect for lunch.

                                      Sushi... Im not a huge sushi fan. I do like great sashimi, but like it in the early stages of a degustation menu that includes cooked food. The best sushi meals I've had were at the old Ginza Sushiko in LA... now the chef/owner (Masa) has moved to NYC and his place in the Time Warner bldg is amazing as many chowhounds know. Be warned, Masa's place is "over the top" expensive... figure $500/head. A must for well healed sushi fans. That said, I'd rather go to Lupa.

                                      1. re: WineTravel

                                        I have been to Lupa and liked it very much, it is relaxing and on a nice quiet street etc.... I also went to Esca and really liked to cooking, first time I'd had fried capers, but not the vibe - seemed gritty thanks to Time Square (also seemed like a mob hangout for some reason).

                                    2. i've dined at no 9 park countless times. it's so hit or miss, i'm frequently frustrated by the experience.

                                      my 2 dinners at babbo were less than stellar. i loved the vibe, the room and the wine list. 1st time we went, our server disappeared between our mid-course and entree. obvious confusion and some sort of management issue. a serious lag occurred, but when we inquired (jokingly) about what happened, all we got was silence. it made the rest of the dinner very weird. apps and pasta great, my rabbit, eh. 2 nd time was with a very harried server and the dishes were seriously lacking in flavor.

                                      when i think "world class", i think "does it compare to 3-star michelin dinners i've had?" and that's everything, especially service. the food doesn't have to be "cutting edge", but must be flawlessly executed.

                                      most of these chefs who have 3 or 5 or 10 restaurants, they are spread too thin, and the consistency is simply not there. if your meals are inconsistent, that, imho, is not "world class".

                                      5 Replies
                                      1. re: hotoynoodle

                                        If it is so "hit or miss," why keep going back to No 9 Park "countless times?"

                                        1. re: Greyhoundgrrl

                                          as a sommelier, i'm often invited there for events.

                                          i didn't offer my opinion in any way to offend you, simply to say i feel differently. if a restaurant cannot execute consistently well, it's not "world-class", imho. that means whether or not the chef is in the kitchen that night. (something you frequently hear about babbo, "it's only good when battali is there." well, you don't pay less when he isn't, do you?)

                                        2. re: hotoynoodle

                                          I agree. While Barbara Lynch is very talented, she's not there very much any more. But weather or not she's in the kitchen is not so much the point there... cause even when she is around, I agree the food and service is erratic and the crowded room/table spacing makes the atomoshere frenetic. The kitchen is capable of producing a wonderful dish or 2, but its not a place you can rely on for a great dinner. So, a better approach for this place is to stop by the bar and have a bite with a glass/bottle of wine. There are better options in Boston at that price point.

                                          Yes, you understand what a world class restaurant is. There are not too many that qualify in the US (IMO)... and so as to not single out No9.... I should add that there are none in Boston.

                                          1. re: WineTravel

                                            Clearly I am too unrefined to participate in this conversation or offer an opinion on the aesthetics of dining. I guess I will crawl back to Burger King and eat Quadruple Whoppers until I drop dead of a heart attack. Thanks for educating this yokel.

                                            1. re: Greyhoundgrrl

                                              Thats an interesting reply from someone who I give cudos for picking L'Astrance as your favorite restaurant experience (killer spot). You dont seem like a fast food junkie to me. Again, No9 is a good restaurant, not great.. and now that world class is more defined, not the kind of place that would be considered in that league. I think its been beaten up enough by me and others. That's all we're saying. Thanks again for the L'Astrance mention. BTW, for those that haven't been... its nearly impossible to score a table at that restaurant... but worth the effort.

                                        3. I think the food of Babbo is world class, but not as elegant as Per Se, Daniel, etc. Gramercy tavern is up there

                                          1. I am not so sure that I would agree with Gramercy Tavern, there may have been a time though. And as far as considering Per Se world-class but not FL, let's be honest and think about where Keller's soul is. And the vote for Encore in Memphis; As a Tennessean, I appreciate the enthusiasm, but we cannot claim a world-class restaurant from our state, and I doubt we ever will (Though the Catfish House in Springfield and Smyrna Tn would be my choice for a Last Supper).