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top 100 restaurants 2012

vulber Apr 1, 2012 10:18 AM

anyone have the print edition?

  1. d
    dunstable Apr 2, 2012 10:30 AM

    Bauer wrote a blog post about why he dropped the restaurants he did. Here are some explanations I find curious:

    "Gitane: Maybe the staff was working on opening Claudine, which made the Top 100, but my return visit was a little disappointing, as if the food was prepared by rote.

    "Picco: Another case of good food at this Larkspur restaurant, but a lack of passion. Three out of five dishes had peas and carrots, for example. It just seemed a little rote."

    "Rote"? Is he expecting the line cooks to improvise throughout the night? Why is, say, the pad thai at Lers Ros not "rote"? Or the MANY, MANY pizza places on his list that do pizza margherita?

    As for value, I have a hard time accepting that Jardiniere is a worse value than Prospect, which I don't much like, largely BECAUSE it is a poor value. Very expensive, tiny portions... at least at Jardiniere the food will be mind-blowing, which I can't really say for Prospect.

    Also, and I realize this is very subjective, what is his attachment to Coco500? Is anyone here a big Coco500 fan? Personally, I think it is average, and all my friends feel the same. I mean I don't hate it, but would you place it over Jardiniere? Commis?

    But I accept that it is Bauer's list, and ultimately, he picks whatever he wants. Whatever, that's how these things work.

    10 Replies
    1. re: dunstable
      vulber Apr 2, 2012 12:44 PM

      whether it's a good idea or not, a lot of this is relative to competitors - lers ros is far more creative than almost any other thai restaurant in SF; whether it's fair or not, the bar is much higher for the type of food served by picco and gitane.

      also, when was the last time you went to jardiniere? the food is anything but mind-blowing, it's quite the opposite, food that tastes good (not great), but is not creative (very much how i feel about boulevard). in fairness, prospect at least attempts interesting combinations (but sadly fails big time with execution). i don't think any of the three should be on the list.

      agree on coco500.

      1. re: vulber
        dunstable Apr 2, 2012 01:08 PM

        It's not like Chapeau is reinventing the cuisine of France, and they almost certainly are cooking by "rote." And anyway, that would be a more compelling defense if he had distributed the restaurants more evenly among different cuisines, which he did not. Was there a reason he felt compelled to add Gialina AND Ragazza, when there were already a plethora of such restaurants on his list?

        It has admittedly been over a year since I've been to Jardiniere.

        Again, these lists are inherently subjective, especially when there is only one selector. That's fine. I just don't understand how he's thinking.

        1. re: dunstable
          Ruth Lafler Apr 2, 2012 02:23 PM

          The example of "peas and carrots" he gave sheds some light about what he means by "rote." Sure, to some extent all line cooks are cooking by rote. But I think in this case he means that the conception of the dishes is rote -- instead of conceiving the dish as a whole, they're just plugging in standard components (we've got a protein, now we need some veggies, okay we'll throw on some peas and carrots). In SF these days that just doesn't cut it!

          1. re: dunstable
            pamf Apr 2, 2012 02:31 PM

            >>Was there a reason he felt compelled to add Gialina AND Ragazza, when there were >>already a plethora of such restaurants on his list?

            Just a technicality, but Bauer combined Gialina and Ragazza into one listing, or one spot in the 100. He did the same thing with Perbacco/Barbacco and a couple of others.

            1. re: dunstable
              vulber Apr 2, 2012 07:32 PM

              i actually would consider chapeau! to be mindblowing

          2. re: dunstable
            arlenemae Apr 4, 2012 01:53 PM

            What I don't get is why there are hardly any south bay restaurants on the list. Plenty in wine country, several east bay, only 2 in the south bay/peninsula!

            1. re: arlenemae
              Robert Lauriston Apr 4, 2012 04:05 PM

              That's always been the case. I think it's a combination of the Chron having less of a market (the farther down the Peninsula you go, the more people read the SJ Mercury), the area simply being less hospitable to the kind of restaurants Bauer likes, and SF and East Bay Chron readers being far more likely to spend time in the wine country and thus interested in reading about restaurants there.

              FWIW I count four, Amber India (two branches), Baume, and Manresa, down from six last year. Kaygetsu closed and Bauer thought Station 1 went downhill after the chef left.

              1. re: arlenemae
                Robert Lauriston Apr 11, 2012 08:49 AM

                "The simple answer is that the restaurants are better in San Francisco and Napa Valley." It's a little clueless of Bauer to lump Berkeley in with Livermore and Mill Valley, since in terms of restaurants on the list per capita Berkeley is second only to SF.


                1. re: Robert Lauriston
                  dunstable Apr 11, 2012 09:15 AM

                  Honestly I think he deliberately ruffles feathers to generate traffic. Which worked there.

                  1. re: dunstable
                    Robert Lauriston Apr 11, 2012 09:26 AM

                    I think he blogs about anything he can think of to meet his quota.

            2. n
              nocharge Apr 1, 2012 11:57 AM

              The new additions were published a few days ago.

              What I find a little strange is that 6 out of the 15 new additions had been given 2 or 2.5 star reviews.
              Claudine (2.5)
              La Ciccia (2.5)
              Lers Ros (2.5)
              Mateo's (2.5)
              Outerlands (2)
              State Bird Provisions (2.5)

              At he same time, Keiko a Nob Hill, which had been given a 3-star review, didn't make the list and a whole bunch of the ones that were dropped have current 3-star reviews. It makes you wonder about how to interpret the star ratings and what "top 100" is supposed to mean.

              8 Replies
              1. re: nocharge
                Robert Lauriston Apr 1, 2012 04:45 PM

                I think Bauer's paying more attention to value for money.

                1. re: Robert Lauriston
                  nocharge Apr 1, 2012 05:35 PM

                  Possibly, but there are two problems with that:

                  1. Bauer has indicated that value is already a factor when determining the number of stars.

                  2. You'd think that the Chronicles annual Bargain Bites list would be a better place to promote value than a "Top 100" list that's bound to include very expensive high-end places whose value could be debated. I mean, are TFL and Saison on the list because of the quality of the food or because they are good value?

                  Take the case of Lers Ros and Keiko that were reviewed one week apart in January.

                  Keiko got more stars in every category, food (3 vs. 2.5), service (2.5 vs. 2), atmosphere (3 vs. 2), and overall (3 vs. 2.5). And Bauer even wrote a blog entry complaining about the 100 decibel noise level at Lers Ros whereas Keiko registered under 65 decibels.
                  Seems to me that the fact that Bauer considers Lers Ros one of the top 100 restaurants, but not Keiko, puts a big question mark on his rating system.

                  1. re: nocharge
                    Robert Lauriston Apr 1, 2012 06:24 PM

                    "... the key to understanding my reviews is to overlay the stars with the price. Example: A month or so ago I lowered the star rating of Jardiniere from 3.5 to 3 for food. The food was nearly as good as it was the year before, but the prices have continued to escalate. In January 2011, main courses were $32-$38. A year later, the range was $35-$44. Plus, there’s a 4 percent San Francisco surcharge on top of that."

                    Bauer doesn't understand his own system. The overall rating is supposed to factor in price. It doesn't help that he hasn't updated the price ratings since 2000.


                    1. re: Robert Lauriston
                      nocharge Apr 1, 2012 07:20 PM

                      Nobody understands Bauer's rating system, where a bunch of pizza places have the same food rating as Saison, so it would hardly be surprising if he doesn't understand it either.

                      1. re: nocharge
                        Robert Lauriston Apr 3, 2012 08:21 AM

                        I see no reason that a great pizza place shouldn't get three stars, or even four, though I'd be surprised to see Bauer give a pizza place four stars, since he buys into the same nonsense Michelin does.

                2. re: nocharge
                  mkiminsde Apr 12, 2012 04:46 PM

                  Such a great list at the first glance, but yes questionable afterwards.

                  1. re: mkiminsde
                    Robert Lauriston Apr 12, 2012 06:20 PM

                    There's not a restaurant on there I've been to that I don't think deserves to be on the list, nor is there a stellar place that I think got screwed particularly.

                    The problem is that there are another just 50 or so places that are just as good as many of the ones that made the cut. If they made it the top 50 or top 150 there wouldn't be so many arbitrary omissions.

                    1. re: Robert Lauriston
                      wally Apr 12, 2012 11:13 PM


                3. w
                  wally Apr 1, 2012 10:33 AM

                  It came with this morning's paper. Those who get their papers early have had it awhile.

                  8 Replies
                  1. re: wally
                    vulber Apr 1, 2012 10:35 AM

                    which were dropped?

                    1. re: vulber
                      nocharge Apr 1, 2012 10:44 AM

                      I believe the following were dropped:

                      A Cote
                      Bar Jules
                      Bourbon Steak
                      Rosso Pizzeria & Wine Bar
                      Station 1
                      Zero Zero

                      1. re: nocharge
                        Glencora Apr 1, 2012 10:53 AM

                        Thanks. I was trying to remember if any K2 restaurants (Lalime's Sea Salt etc.) were on the list last year. Guess not.

                        1. re: Glencora
                          Robert Lauriston Apr 1, 2012 04:46 PM

                          Here's last year's: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/food/to...

                        2. re: nocharge
                          Rapini Apr 1, 2012 05:40 PM

                          Commis isn't on the list.

                          Bauer is dead to me now.

                          1. re: Rapini
                            bbulkow Apr 1, 2012 07:13 PM

                            He had that one swiss place, matterhorn, on for years, for no apparent reason.

                            1. re: Rapini
                              Robert Lauriston Apr 3, 2012 08:36 AM

                              It's old news that Bauer didn't like Commis too much:


                            2. re: nocharge
                              Robert Lauriston Apr 3, 2012 08:31 AM

                              I go to A Cote all the time and the quality's the same as ever. That's another flaw in Bauer's methodology, he says he visits at least three times when awarding stars, but he thinks one half-assed visit is enough to pull them or drop a place from the Top 100.

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