I started reading the reviews on opentable.com which were used in the "top 50" ranking process and was not very impressed
"the plate had only 1 sprig of parsley" and "we sent back the salmon because my mother wanted it to be like a tuna steak"
opentable.com might be a little too "tripadvisor" for me...I'll stick to chowhound for food recs and frommers for travel
Good point. While I use OpenTable, both here and abroad, for reservations, I do not even bother to fill in their "reviews," because they are so very limiting. They seem more interested in "romantic spots," and "see-and-be-seen" dining in these.
Who can give a full review of a great, or horrible restaurant in 64 characters, and be fair?
No, lists need to be taken as a diversion. If you want the details, CH (or a few others) do a much better job. Same for local newspapers'/magazines' "Best Of" surveys. Who are those people anyway? I find even Condé Nast's "Traveler," and Platinum American Express' "Departures," to be devoid of worthwhile recommendations, regarding dining.
+1 on Phyllistein's explanation, but I also have one of my own.
I don't think the New Orleans dining scene is one of the best because we are top heavy with places like Stella and August. We are a food destination city because of how good we are from top to bottom. We may not have many "5 Stars" but our 4 through 2 Stars are much better than everyone else's. (See this article for a better explanation: http://www.usatoday.com/travel/destin...)
Along these same lines, relative to most other foodie cities, New Orleans is much much cheaper. And I think that appeals to a wider demographic - especially today. When I visited Napa last year we ate ridiculously well (even made it to TFL), but we also spent a ridiculous amount of money. I think that in NOLA with the wide range of great restaurants (and hotel rooms for that matter) in terms of price, we appeal to a greater audience - which is good because we have a lot of hotel rooms to fill.
Also, there is no other place in the world that cooks our indigenous cuisine. Chefs can cook sous vide in NYC just as Ferran Adria does et El Bulli, but you don't see authentic creole fare most other places than here. In addition to embracing our local culinary heritage, we also (like NYC) offer a wide range of cuisines cooked by natives of other regions. Best of both worlds.
Just my two cents.
Yeah, lists are always suspect. There are some excellent restaurants on that list that are better than anything New Orleans has to offer. The French Laundry or Daniel, for example. There are also some that are suspect when compared to New Orleans restaurants. Chez Betty for instance. We've been there, and there are quite a few places in New Orleans that are better. But hey, it's great for Park City. I think phyllistein's explanation is as good as any.
I will say, though, that most lists I see which name "the 50 greatest American restaurants" usually only have 1 or 2 nola joints on it, if that. (See Gourmet's list) If you switch to "top 50 World restaurants" we're not even mentioned. We've got some good food, but we ain't got a Fat Duck, Daniel, or El Bulli.
Just my two cents, but a disproportionately low percentage of New Orleans restaurants take reservations via OpenTable, at least relative to other cities like Boston, NYC, Atlanta and San Francisco. Furthermore, I wouldn't be surprised if the number of reservations made via OpenTable to New Orleans restaurants was notably lower than these and other cities as well. Since you have to be a restaurant that takes reservations via OpenTable to be eligible and you have to have a large volume of customers using OpenTable to vote, that could explalin the dearth of N.O. restaurants on this particular list. Like I say, just my 2 cents.