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May 9, 2014 11:36 AM

Chronicle Top 100 2014

This year it's online before the print edition is out, 20 new places:

Weird design with huge type and graphics.

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  1. Agreed; the layout is nearly unreadable. Very clunky.

    1. I pulled it up and kind of by accident zoomed out the map. Only ONE restaurant south of SF/Oakland. That's got to be some kind of record.

      4 Replies
      1. re: Ruth Lafler

        Yes, I've never been one of those people who insisted the South Bay get equal coverage in the Chron, but it's sort of hilarious that he included Manresa, and no other San Jose area restaurant.. The way the map is set up, it looks like he ate all over the South Bay and could only find one good restaurant. I really, really doubt this is true.

        Having said that, I don't have a ton of problem with this list, for what it is. It's more or less the sort of list you'd expect from him. Not saying that's good or bad; it is what it is.

        1. re: dunstable

          As one who lives in San Jose, there is the reality that is often reflected on this board, the restaurant scene here, tho getting better, does not quite yet rate.

        2. re: Ruth Lafler

          It depends on what kind of newspaper the Chron purports to be, Ruth.

          On the one hand it IS titled "SF" Chronicle. On the other hand it makes noises sometimes about being a regional paper, which would clash with omitting the half or so of the Bay Area population "south of SF or Oakland." Like its restaurant reviews of 40 years ago ignoring the East Bay (which did sometimes happen).

          Then again, so many of the restaurants south of SF/Oakland are Asian-Ethnic, for which the chron's current chief critic might not be the best equipped. Seems to me Whitelaw in the 70s did a better job of sniffing out and popularizing Sichuanese restaurants (a new thing for the US at the time) than the Chron has done in recent years for today's emerging Asian cuisines in the Bay Area.

          1. re: Ruth Lafler

            There are three in the Peninsula / South Bay section, counting Amber India twice.

          2. So Keiko was recently subject to an update review giving it 3.5 stars for food. But I don't see it on the list. At the same time, 2.5-star Lers Ros is there. Seems like there is some disconnect between the star rating system and inclusion on the list unless there is some form of affirmative action program for Thai restaurants. But if so, shouldn't Lers Ros be given more stars?

            6 Replies
            1. re: nocharge

              He tries to include a range of styles and price ranges of restaurants.

              1. re: Ruth Lafler

                So are there quotas for specific types of restaurants? Thai, French, Italian, Chinese, expensive, inexpensive, etc? Not very well spelled out, in my opinion. I think the star ratings are mostly within reason. One can always quibble about half a star one way or another, but I think that would be the margin of error of anyone's opinion. However, the Top-100 list shows an inexplicable level of arbitrariness.

              2. re: nocharge

                Keiko's update was published just yesterday so too late for this year's list.

                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                  The question is not when the Keiko update was published but when the review took place. Besides, Keiko and Lers Ros were originally reviewed within one week of each other. Keiko got 3 stars but didn't make the list. Lers Ros got 2.5 and made the list that year.

                  1. re: nocharge

                    It takes a few weeks for the production staff to put those big articles together. Per his blog, Bauer was working on the top 100 list on March 25, and he didn't eat at Keiko's until the end of April.

                    1. re: Robert Lauriston

                      Given that he probably visits or revisits well in excess of 100 restaurants to compile his list, he's probably been at it for a while. But again, even based on the original reviews of Keiko and Lers Ros that were one week apart, the exclusion of Keiko is strange.

              3. Fleur de Lys is not a Top 100 restaurant? Only in an alternate universe.

                6 Replies
                1. re: zorrosf

                  On this board there have been a lot of complaints about inconsistency and not-so-great meals at FdL that echo what Bauer wrote in his last update on the place:


                  1. re: Robert Lauriston

                    Apparently, Bauer cares more about the attire of the hostess and the ubiquity of cherry tomatoes than the beauty and class of the decor, the sumptuous food, and the classic presentations (e.g., where else do you get a Grand Marnier souffle these days?) I readily concede that "different strokes for different folks" is still cogent advice and FdL may not make everyone's list of SF's Top 10. However, not in the Top 100??? In the immortal words of John McEnroe: "You can't be serious!"

                    1. re: zorrosf

                      He gave FdL four stars for atmosphere. There are a lot of other restaurants in that price range that get more consistently positive reviews here. Many of them are owned by chefs who have only one place and are in the kitchen every day.

                      You can get a Grand Marnier souffle at RN74, Bisou, Cafe Jacqueline, Chapeau, Gary Danko, Alexander's Steakhouse, or Jeanne d'Arc.

                      1. re: Robert Lauriston

                        Nevertheless zorrosf has a point, and I get it. "Consistent reviews" on this Chowhound board are hardly the final word, or even necessarily representative at all (I've seen some restaurants draw mostly comments here that are eccentric compared to the typical patron's or critic's impression although don't get me wrong, it's certainly not in the sorry league of Y*lp).

                        And people who've experienced and appreciated Hubert Keller's exuberant homey-accented Alsatian cooking for 15 or 30 years, extending perhaps back to his earlier restaurant too -- starting long before most of today's fashionable restaurants and chefs -- may well overlook a run of inconsistency even if they too experience it, which they may well not.

                        1. re: eatzalot

                          I don't think anyone is disputing Hubert Keller's talent. More likely a matter of a chef possibly overextending himself to build an empire. Fleur de Lys in SF. Fleur in Las Vegas. Burger Bars in SF, Vegas, and Beijing. Appearances on TV shows like Top Chef. Writing cook books. Etc. No wonder if the original flagship restaurant might suffer in the process. Michael Mina is probably in the same boat, so to speak.

                          1. re: nocharge

                            That's fair enough. (It seems now every successful chef in this country needs an "empire," too. Must have started with Wolfgang J. Topfschnig, better known by his made-over name "Puck.")

                2. Dropped (I only count 18 so maybe I missed a couple):

                  Auberge du Solel
                  Dopo, Oakland
                  Fifth Floor (closed)
                  Hog & Rocks
                  Koi Palace, Daly City
                  Michael Mina
                  Mill Valley Beerworks
                  Mission Chinese Food
                  O Chame, Berkeley (closed)
                  Osteria Stellina
                  Outerlands (chef left)
                  Trick Dog

                  19 Replies
                  1. re: Robert Lauriston

                    Mission Chinese Food and Koi Palace got bad reviews. Did the others have bad reviews, or just not make the cut?

                    1. re: Robert Lauriston

                      Cool to see that list! The most surprising one, in my opinion, would be Michael Mina. After that, Spruce, Waterbar, and Farallon in no particular order.

                      1. re: nocharge

                        Not sorry to see Michael Mina leave the list. The only way I'd return is if I was someone's guest, (s)he insisted, and picked up the check.

                        1. re: lmnopm

                          I'm more surprised than sad, especially since Bauer has had a history of giving Mina-related places somewhat inflated ratings. The latest Bauer update for Michael Mina was in September with the headline
                          "Michael Mina is stellar - but not quite 4-star" and he gave the place a 3.5 star rating. If places like that are being kicked off of the list in favor of 2.5 star places, I'm not sure how to correlate his star system with his Top-100 list.

                          1. re: nocharge

                            "As I was … updating the Michael Mina [Top 100] entry, I was dumbfounded when I realized the a la carte main courses started at $42 and went up to $52 (rib eye steak). I had a visceral reaction to those prices. In addition, the appetizers start at $20 and go up to $29 and there’s an additional 3 percent San Francisco surcharge. It all made me ask: Is it worth the price?"


                            1. re: Robert Lauriston

                              Yeah, I read that. But that doesn't really answer the question about what the criteria are for inclusion in the Top-100. And it's not like Michael Mina being pricey is a brand new concept. Bauer never noticed it before?

                              1. re: nocharge

                                He was the first one to figure out sending only cute waiters to his table.

                        2. re: nocharge

                          I'm most surprised by Wakuriya. I haven't been, but have heard rave reviews by everyone (trustworthy) who has, and reservations disappear for any given day in seemingly minutes.

                          1. re: bouncepass

                            Maybe it was one of the six he dropped for no reason except to get the count down to a bogus 100. There are actually 107 restaurants on the list, since he counts Chez Panisse + the Cafe at Chez Panisse, Gialina + Ragazza, Perbacco + Barbacco, Pizzaiolo + Boot & Shoe, Scopa + Campo Fina, Terra + Bar Terra, and both Yang Sing branches as one each (though Cotogna and Quince count as two).

                            "… the day before the deadline … I had to whittle down the 106 restaurants I had written down to 100. In the end it went purely on a gut feeling, considering such factors of price/value, location and type of food. This year, 20 new places were added to the list, including three Japanese places …"


                            1. re: Robert Lauriston

                              Counting two Yank Sing branches as one may make some sense. Counting Perbacco and Barbacco as one would make a lot less sense. Lumping Quince and Cotogna together (which he doesn't) would make even less sense than that.

                              1. re: nocharge

                                I think the relationship of Quince and Cotogna is much too similar to that of Perbacco and Barbacco to justify dropping one of the six restaurants he arbitrarily cut.

                                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                  Quince and Cotogna both deserve mention. The other tandems do not. He's simply listing their sister locations together for informational purposes. Barbacco didn't deserve it's own listing this year.

                                  1. re: sugartoof

                                    Regardless of what restaurants deserve mentioning, Quince and Cotogna are very different restaurants although in close geographical proximity and run by the same owners. Same thing could be said for Perbacco/Barbacco. Why would one of the two tandems count as one while the other doesn't?

                                    Undisciplined arbitrariness on part of a restaurant reviewer who thinks that 100 is a magic keyword.

                                    1. re: nocharge

                                      Publishers love big round numbers in roundup headlines, but shoehorning six or seven extra restaurants into the 100 using the excuse that their owners are lucky enough to have two place undercuts his argument for arbitrarily throwing out six others.

                                      1. re: nocharge

                                        Like I said, I believe it's because they were listing second locations, and Barbacco wouldn't have made the list otherwise. Unlike Cotogna which might have even beat out Quince this year, since it's having it's moment.

                                        If the list was open to extra names, I doubt it would have solved the dual listing scenario.

                          2. re: Robert Lauriston

                            Outerlands was remodeling and the chef just left. Timing doesn't add up to get dropped.

                            Trick Dog getting dropped implies it was only added in the first place to seem with-it.

                            1. re: sugartoof

                              The Chron reported that the chef would not be returning a couple of weeks before Bauer blogged about working on the top 100 list.


                            2. re: Robert Lauriston

                              Canteen closed, that's the other one gone from last year.

                              He tacked Campo Fina onto Scopa, so he only dropped 19 to add 20.