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Dec 25, 2009 02:04 PM

Washington Magazine's Top 100.....ANY ONE ELSE HAVE PROBLEMS WITH IT? [moved from DC/Baltimore board]

Sorry. I feel the need to ask the question - But I have serious issues with this list.

1st, I love Komi, but #1?

2nd, J&G is a Steakhouse and hasn't been around nearly enough to get a rating like a #4.
I agree that Source and Mini should be in the top 10 - but before Eve, Citronelle and Cityzen?

I also feel that the horrible review that was performed on Inox, that had more to do with the economy than anything, continues with this slight of a placing into #55.
I have been to Jaleo many times. IT'S NO 32! AND INOX IS NO 55. So Jaleo is better than – Bourbon, Post, 701, Cava, RTS and Cork? Really?

2 Amy's - Whom by the way does PIZZA is listed 28, right before Volt, 1789 & Bourbon.
I love pizza. But if you are going to have a list, that talks about the best of the best, this clearly has to be a mistake.

Sorry - But to have this much pull in the city AND TODD, regardless if you feel you do or don't or Shouldn't - You do. The representation in this list is overly flawed.

And Finally - Equinox? #95? Really? I have been there 3 times in the last 6 months and a 2 star rating and number 95 is a sign of ignorance and total disrespect.

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  1. I haven't seen the list, but if those are your examples of egregious wrong-doing, then I think it's much ado about nothing.

    1. Yes, the ratings are utterly asinine. I have not eaten at a lot of these places, but I would be hesitant to believe any of the ratings. Even Zagat is more accurate, as there you at least understand you are comparing like places, not some absolute top 100, plus maybe the ratings are from real people eating there under all conditions, not jaded pampered food critics.

      You can see the absurdities most clearly by comparing restaurants with similar cuisines.
      For example, 2 Amys specialty is burnt soupy pizza, and it is a PIZZA JOINT. Even if it were the best pizza joint in the city (which it probably isn't), why it would be a better Italian restaurant than Tosca and about as good as Obelisk in any but a dumb eight-year old's opinion is beyond comprehension. Where would YOU rather eat -1789 or a noisy joint serving so-so pizza? My guess is they give free meals (or money) to food critics.
      The critics' love affair with Jaleo and the mediocre chef who runs it is also a source of constant amazement to me, Jaleo is about as good as Volt? Please. Andres must really know how to butter them up. And do the critics get fawned over at overrated overpriced joints like Minibar, or are they just effete snobs who like to associate with culinary "artists" (as opposed to cooks or chefs) feeding you a silly bite at a time (like a baby-ooooh, I bet you don't know what this is, Snookums)? Sorry, if I am eating a beet, the chef doesn't get extra points for making it look like a tumbleweed, it's still a friggin' beet.
      And Ray's The Steaks does not serve the best steaks in town. It's a bargain version of Morton's plus some guy who is paid to push overpriced wine on you while acting as if you are a genius for asking him what to drink (i.e., a sommelier), which is fine for what it is, but the snobs won't admit that.
      It would make a lot more sense to rate restaurants by type or price range, but that would probably not sell a lot of magazines, especially to those who make up the Washingtonian's target demographic - people with more money than taste.

      8 Replies
      1. re: a1234

        I don't like lists or rating systems personally, but I am more likely to recommend 2 Amys than Tosca. Yes, for the exceptional pizza as well as most other items I've had there. Which is not a slam against Tosca at all. I sometimes recommend it.

        I also loved my one meal at Minibar, though I missed the 'beet as tumbleweed' dish.

        I've eaten very successfully three times at Ray's The Classics, and I would certainly rate it very highly among DC area restaurants. My one meal at Ray's the Steaks (in the former location) wasn't good at all. I do prefer the expanded options at Ray's the Classics, although I have heard that aspect changes from time to time.

        Re Jose Andres: I've had many, many successful meals at Jaleo. Mostly that is true for Zaytinya as well. The Latina Dim Sum brunch at Cafe Atlantico is great. I've had ok to poor food off the regular menu at Cafe Atlantico, and I've been mostly disappointed at Oyamel, despite some very bright spots. Jose Andres has carefully researched each of his dishes before he creates his own version, which is sometimes intricate and sometimes simple. You don't have to like it, but I find much of it dazzling. Certainly, he offers many unique items that nobody else is serving in the DC area or maybe even in other major cities.

        1. re: Steve

          Only ate at Jaleo and Zaytinya once. When your menu is that long, it's hard to get a good sample - or maybe it is hard to do it well. Perhaps I ordered the wrong items, but I was not at all impressed. Lukewarm, overcooked, pretty tasteless, and mostly overpriced food, Their high ratings seem ludicrous to me. Maybe the Bethesda branch of Jaleo is not as good as DC. Or perhaps you could tell me what to try if I do chance it again.
          I don't think much of places featuring one-bite tastings, either, especially when the rave reviews appear to be mostly based on the fact that the food is disguised as something else. Who cares - except jaded critics looking for a new angle? I don't mean that presentation doesn't count. For all I know, the food is great, but if I like one bite, I want another, and if I don't, I don't want to pay just for silly tricks. (As supermarkets who hand out free samples know, some food tastes good when you have just one bite, and not so much when you have a few - maybe that's part of the idea.)
          Rays is great but it sure isn't something getting all worked up about. It's a steak house. My primary point is that many who scorn Morton's, for example, rate Ray's very highly. But there is really not much difference, except Ray's is a better bargain.
          As far as 2 Amys, its universal praise from critics is a bad joke, IMO. The food is just OK, the ambience is awful, and the service is non-existent. It belongs in a completely separate category from fine dining. But that is an opinion - one could argue MacDonald's is "better" than Tosca.

          1. re: a1234

            "For all I know, the food is great, but if I like one bite, I want another"

            This is certainly a very interesting topic of discussion. I think I read an interview with Thomas Keller who said that eating appetizer portions are better so that you don't get used to the flavor - or something like that. Overall, I think he's right. I love grazing, and I often hear that the appetizers at a particular restaurant are better or more interesting than the main courses. We all know that tasting menus are all the rage now and that some tasting menus get their own review as if they are an entirely different restaurant.

            My theory is that restaurants pack a ton of flavor into their small plates or bites because they know nobody will be satisfied with a small, subtle taste. At Minibar, some of the flavors are intense. I am not sure you'd really need bigger portions. My only complaint about Minibar was that the courses came too fast together. It was like receiving a combination punch in the boxing ring.

            Anyway, at Jaleo I love the many vegetable dishes they serve: patatas bravas, asparagus with romescu (a rather complicated sauce, BTW), spinach with raisins, tortilla espanol, date fritters with bacon, and the olive mixture. To me, the food there tastes of rustic European cooking more than anywhere I can think of in the US. Depending on the specials, I have adored the trumpet mushrooms, and oxtail with tangerines (I had this during a special week featuring tangerines from Spain).

        2. re: a1234

          Ray's is far better than Mortons. 9 times out of 10 Morton's over cooks the steak. I have never had an overcooked steak at Rays. Morton' uses a lot of pre-made/frozen/packaged ingredients. Ray's has far better quality and is not a huge corporate chain. I would always go to Ray's over Morton's/Ruths/Capital/Teds/etc.

          1. re: sekelmaan

            I will jump in to say how much Morton's sucks. After a couple of rounds in a row there, it seems like the training ground for steak houses. The whole cart thing, the service in general (excuse me while I interrupt), and even the food.

            While I hate saying it, even Cap Grill does a better job, and certain Clyde's (not Reston for sure).

            1. re: Dennis S

              I have to agree the Morton's locations in DC are nothing special. I went to one in New Orleans, however, that was outstanding. The cold seafood was bright and fresh and the steaks were perfect. In fact, none of the big steakhouses in DC seem to be on the same level as those in other cities. They all seem kind of lackluster to me. Why is that, I wonder?

            2. re: sekelmaan

              I don't know about Cap Grill, but to me most high-priced steakhouses are pretty much the same - there is only so much you can do grilling a steak.
              Clyde's is not a steak house and it is not much good, whatever it is, except for a decent burger and fries.
              Not to defend Moron's, as they are indeed overpriced compared to Ray's, but they do serve USDA prime, grain-fed aged beef.
              If Morton's is a chain, what do you think Clyde's is? If you think Morton's uses frozen ingredients in its sides, what do you think Clyde's (and most steakhouses) uses? If you think the food is bad at Moron's, you have not eaten at Clyde's. If you think Morton's has bad service, you've never had a Clyde's waiter who is a law student at GT and deigns to half-listen to your order.
              And if you really think the meat is "overcooked", which is after all subjective and not true in my experience, there is a simple solution - tell them how you want it to look., and send it back if it doesn't look that way.
              Yes, Morton's has a formula, and it works for what it is. The quality of the cooking and service may vary by location to the degree they deviate from the formula..

            3. re: a1234

              The Washingtonian lists always contain a variety of categories, in part, I beleive, because most of us like to eat at a variety of types of restaurants. Comparing 2 Amy's and Tosca is very much comparing apples and oranges. Personally, I like them both. Some days I would much rather go to 2 Amy's.

              My experience with Jaleo is that it has been uneven, depending
              i imagine on where Andres is spending his time. It can be sensational, but it definitely has its off days

            4. Could you maybe post a link to whatever list you're complaining about?

              2 Replies
              1. re: sweth

                The list we are talking about isn't online yet but if you are local then you should know about the Washingtonian Magazine's Top 100 list, that lists the "top 100 restaurants", in the order they are ranked by the food editors of the Washingtonian Magazine.

                That's what this discussion is about.

                1. re: themeatguy

                  I'm aware of said list, but keeping track of when it comes out and shelling out money for a list of restaurants that I already know about that have been put in an order that I probably disagree with by a group of people whose editorial objectivity is highly questionable isn't very high on my list of priorities.

              2. I was amused that Kliman's list of the top 100 and Tom Sietsema's top 50 had relatively little overlap

                1. The beauty of these lists is that they invite a lot of discussion. The critics do not expect you to agree with their choices 100 percent. That being said, although the order of some of the restaurants can be argued, they probably got the top 100 pretty much right. By the way, I don't think that pizza should be degraded just because it is pizza. Everyone values different types of food differently.