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weinoo

25 Most Important Restaurants of the Last 30 Years

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So, a pretty good case is made for the inclusion of Emeril's, though as Sneakeater mentioned, Emeril was kind of already a star at Commander's Palace. Was Commander's Palace more of an important restaurant than Emeril's?

Emeril was a New Orleans star when he was at Commander's Palace, as Prudhomme was before him. (Quick: name the current chef at CP.*) Without his own place, though, I don't think he gets the Food Network gig.

*Tory McPhail, a name New Orleans foodies -- which is just about everyone in the city -- would have no trouble coming up with.


Dave Scantland
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Interesting that you've got both The French Laundry and Per Se on there. French Laundry I buy, but how do you justify Per Se?

Actually, I'm not trying to justify any of my choices. Undoubtedly, among the 22 restaurants I picked, there are going to be disagreements. How about "unjustifying" Per Se, one of a very few NY Times 4 star restaurants in existence.


Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

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Are we talking chefs or restaurants?

Because eventhough Emeril worked at both, Commander's Palace and Emeril's are nothing alike.

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The argument for "unjustifying" Per Se is that, despite the fact that it is one of the top restaurants in NYC, it's still basically a retread of the French Laundry and isn't doing anything meaningfully different.


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The argument for "unjustifying" Per Se is that, despite the fact that it is one of the top restaurants in NYC, it's still basically a retread of the French Laundry and isn't doing anything meaningfully different.

What would you replace it with?


Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

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Was it you baby...or just a Brilliant Disguise?

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What's Mansion on Turtle Creek known for?

Any room for a Japanese place? Nobu?

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What's Mansion on Turtle Creek known for?

Any room for a Japanese place? Nobu?

Dean Fearing and Stephan Pyles put southwestern cuisine on the culinary map and have been pioneers of New American Cuisine. Dean Fearing at The Mansion on Turtle Creek and Stephan Pyles at Routh Street Cafe and Baby Routh.

So you can add Routh Street Cafe, as well as keeping The Mansion on your list. Though both chefs have moved on to other things, Stephan Pyles with many restaurants, most recently his namesake, and Dean Fearing with the highly respected Fearing's.

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What's Mansion on Turtle Creek known for?

Any room for a Japanese place? Nobu?

Nobu is on the list in the OP.

Mansion is described below, and is a restaurant I've been reading about for years.

Dean Fearing and Stephan Pyles put southwestern cuisine on the culinary map and have been pioneers of New American Cuisine. Dean Fearing at The Mansion on Turtle Creek and  Stephan Pyles at Routh Street Cafe and Baby Routh.

So you can add Routh Street Cafe, as well as keeping The Mansion on your list. Though both chefs have moved on to other things, Stephan Pyles with many restaurants, most recently his namesake, and Dean Fearing with the highly respected Fearing's.

This is the first time I've heard of either Routh Street Cafe or Baby Ruth. That's not the fault of those restaurants and I've certainly heard of Pyles before, just not in the context of those restaurants.

Same as Bill Neal and Chapel Hill's Crook's Corner, which Varmint had posted about. Neal is widely known as a wonderful cookbook author; I'd bet it would be much harder to find many people outside of the area that knew he ran a restaurant, much less what that restaurant was called.

I think the restaurant that represents both "southwestern cuisine on the culinary map" as well as "pioneers of New American Cuisine" would therefore be the Mansion on Turtle Creek.


Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

mweinstein@eGstaff.org

Tasty Travails - My Blog

My eGullet FoodBog - A Tale of Two Boroughs

Was it you baby...or just a Brilliant Disguise?

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The argument for "unjustifying" Per Se is that, despite the fact that it is one of the top restaurants in NYC, it's still basically a retread of the French Laundry and isn't doing anything meaningfully different.

Per Se is probably one of the top 5 restaurants in New York City...since it opened.

French Laundry is probably one of the top 5 restaurants in California...since it opened.

Each of the restaurants may be in the top 10 in the United States...since they opened.

I think the fact the Keller is able to maintain these two highly regarded restaurants, in 2 such disparate locations, warrants the inclusion of both.


Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

mweinstein@eGstaff.org

Tasty Travails - My Blog

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Was it you baby...or just a Brilliant Disguise?

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The argument for "unjustifying" Per Se is that, despite the fact that it is one of the top restaurants in NYC, it's still basically a retread of the French Laundry and isn't doing anything meaningfully different.

Per Se is probably one of the top 5 restaurants in New York City...since it opened.

French Laundry is probably one of the top 5 restaurants in California...since it opened.

Each of the restaurants may be in the top 10 in the United States...since they opened.

I think the fact the Keller is able to maintain these two highly regarded restaurants, in 2 such disparate locations, warrants the inclusion of both.

No one is saying that they aren't both great restaurants. But "great" and "important" (by which I assume is meant a combination of groundbreaking-ness, influence, etc.) are not the same thing. I mean, Charlie Trotter has been one of the top restaurants in the Midwest...since it opened, but so what? Does that make it one of the most important restaurants?

The French Laundry and Per Se are effectively one restaurant that happens to exist in two cities. I could see combining "French Laundry/Per Se" into one entry, but it doesn't make sense to me to give two separate spots on a list of 25 to two more or less identical restaurants that have the same executive chef, the same culinary philosophy, many of the same dishes, and with the same influence on American cuisine and restaurant culture. If you're only going to pick one of these restaurants, it has to be French Laundry -- and really I think that makes the most sense. When Keller is gone one day, his legacy will be what he created at French Laundry.


Edited by slkinsey (log)

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Same as Bill Neal and Chapel Hill's Crook's Corner, which Varmint had posted about.    Neal is widely known as a wonderful cookbook author; I'd bet it would be much harder to find many people outside of the area that knew he ran a restaurant, much less what that restaurant was called.

I'll respectfully disagree with this comment. If you look at most of the top Southern restaurants in the country, they'll point to Crook's Corner as having a huge influence in what they're doing. Look at the Beard Award-winning chefs from Southern restaurants: Robert Stehling, John Currence, Ben Barker, Karen Barker, and many more. They worked with Bill Neal or credit him with being the "godfather" of modern Southern cuisine.

As John T. Edge said, "''He was the first Southerner who applied an academic rigor to cooking. We were not very proud, back then, of ourselves or our cuisine. He rekindled our respect for the cooking of our own forebears. And he gave Southern cooking a strong national platform.''

You really can't separate the restaurant from the man.


Dean McCord

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I would agree with Varmint's inclusion of Crook's Corner. Though I am not personally familiar with the restaurant, it has been a breeding ground for all sorts of top notch chefs who have gone on to wonderful food elsewhere.

There is no question that Charlie Trotter needs to be on the list, even if it is no longer as relevant as it once was.

I agree with Sam re: Per Se. great restaurant, but essentially a re-do of TFL in different digs. Since TFL came first, that gets the nod, IMO.

As for WD-50, I think it belongs there. While I happen to love it, the fact that it is as controversial as it is, puts it there. Love it or hate, most people seriously interested in food in this country at least know of it.

What about Patria or Asia de Cuba? Douglass Rodriguez put Nuevo Latino on the map. How about Blue Ginger? Clio, another great incubator? How about Norman Van Aken as a chef? Tom Douglas in Seattle? Yasuda?

New Orleans certainly deserves more than just Emeril. How about Susan Spicer at Bayona?


John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

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  But "great" and "important" (by which I assume is meant a combination of groundbreaking-ness, influence, etc.) are not the same thing.  I mean, Charlie Trotter has been one of the top restaurants in the Midwest...since it opened, but so what?  Does that make it one of the most important restaurants?

Charlie Trotter's may not have been the first fine dining restaurant in Chicago, but it certainly is the one that put the city on the culinary map.


John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

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Oh, I agree, doc. I'm just wondering if that's enough to make it a "25 most important of the last 30 years restaurant." Okay, it put Chicago on the map for fine dining. But unlike, say, Crook's Corner or Turtle Creek, I don't get the sense that it put any particular style or approach to cooking on the map. It just happens to be a good restaurant and the first one at that level in Chicago to attract a lot of attention. Is that enough? Is Charlie Trotter's important in influential in the way that, say, Gotham Bar & Grill is?


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Oh, I agree, doc.  I'm just wondering if that's enough to make it a "25 most important of the last 30 years restaurant."  Okay, it put Chicago on the map for fine dining.  But unlike, say, Crook's Corner or Turtle Creek, I don't get the sense that it put any particular style or approach to cooking on the map.  It just happens to be a good restaurant and the first one at that level in Chicago to attract a lot of attention.  Is that enough?  Is Charlie Trotter's important in influential in the way that, say, Gotham Bar & Grill is?

I think it is, Sam. The style of cooking is one that we tend to take for granted today, but Trotter was at the forefront of popularizing it. Without Trotter, I'm not sure that we would have Alinea - at least in Chicago. That city had always been known as a meat & potatoes town. Before Trotter, the only fine dining restaurants were classic French. Trotter opened the door for so many excellent restaurants and set the tone for Chicago to become arguably the most important dining city in the country right now.


John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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Oh, I agree, doc.  I'm just wondering if that's enough to make it a "25 most important of the last 30 years restaurant."  Okay, it put Chicago on the map for fine dining.  But unlike, say, Crook's Corner or Turtle Creek, I don't get the sense that it put any particular style or approach to cooking on the map.  It just happens to be a good restaurant and the first one at that level in Chicago to attract a lot of attention.  Is that enough?  Is Charlie Trotter's important in influential in the way that, say, Gotham Bar & Grill is?

I think it is, Sam. The style of cooking is one that we tend to take for granted today, but Trotter was at the forefront of popularizing it. Without Trotter, I'm not sure that we would have Alinea - at least in Chicago. That city had always been known as a meat & potatoes town. Before Trotter, the only fine dining restaurants were classic French. Trotter opened the door for so many excellent restaurants and set the tone for Chicago to become arguably the most important dining city in the country right now.

Back in the day, Trotters was the first place I had even been offering on a Degustation menu.

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Jean Louis @ The Watergate

Charlie Trotter's

Le Bec Fin

Le Cirque

Four Seasons

le Pavillon? (too long ago?)

etc, etc, etc

Le Cirque, Four Seasons, Le Pavillon, probably Le Bec Fin, ALL too long ago.

You must be really young.

Geez, all my grey hair is showing. I remember Le Cirque 2000 was my go to spot for the holidays.

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What's Mansion on Turtle Creek known for?

Any room for a Japanese place? Nobu?

Nobu is on the list in the OP.

Mansion is described below, and is a restaurant I've been reading about for years.

Dean Fearing and Stephan Pyles put southwestern cuisine on the culinary map and have been pioneers of New American Cuisine. Dean Fearing at The Mansion on Turtle Creek and  Stephan Pyles at Routh Street Cafe and Baby Routh.

So you can add Routh Street Cafe, as well as keeping The Mansion on your list. Though both chefs have moved on to other things, Stephan Pyles with many restaurants, most recently his namesake, and Dean Fearing with the highly respected Fearing's.

This is the first time I've heard of either Routh Street Cafe or Baby Ruth. That's not the fault of those restaurants and I've certainly heard of Pyles before, just not in the context of those restaurants.

Same as Bill Neal and Chapel Hill's Crook's Corner, which Varmint had posted about. Neal is widely known as a wonderful cookbook author; I'd bet it would be much harder to find many people outside of the area that knew he ran a restaurant, much less what that restaurant was called.

I think the restaurant that represents both "southwestern cuisine on the culinary map" as well as "pioneers of New American Cuisine" would therefore be the Mansion on Turtle Creek.

The problem is that both Stephan Pyle's Routh Street and Dean Fearing at The Mansion on Turtle Creek both were pioneers of New American Cuisine and put Southwestern Cuisine on the map. But they each chose different paths, with Pyles opening several fine restaurants over the years and consulting on even more, and Dean Fearing staying at The Mansion on Turtle Creek until a few years ago.

So it's a tricky comparison. As a matter of national name recognition, it's The Mansion. If it's pioneering and putting Southwestern on the map, it's both of them. If it's going beyond Southwestern, that's been Pyles for a long time and both of them with both of their namesake restaurants. Most important restaurant and most important chef begins to blur.

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I would agree with Varmint's inclusion of Crook's Corner. Though I am not personally familiar with the restaurant, it has been a breeding ground for all sorts of top notch chefs who have gone on to wonderful food elsewhere.

There is no question that Charlie Trotter needs to be on the list, even if it is no longer as relevant as it once was.

I agree with Sam re: Per Se. great restaurant, but essentially a re-do of TFL in different digs. Since TFL came first, that gets the nod, IMO.

As for WD-50, I think it belongs there. While I happen to love it, the fact that it is as controversial as it is, puts it there. Love it or hate, most people seriously interested in food in this country at least know of it.

What about Patria or Asia de Cuba? Douglass Rodriguez put Nuevo Latino on the map. How about Blue Ginger? Clio, another great incubator? How about Norman Van Aken as a chef? Tom Douglas in Seattle? Yasuda?

New Orleans certainly deserves more than just Emeril. How about Susan Spicer at Bayona?

Agree with a lot of this, doc. Norman's is on my original list.

Does Patria or Asia de Cuba really belong? There's no doubt to Rodriguez's influence as a chef; it's just that he never really remained in any one place long enough for it to sink in. And what should be knocked off in either of their places?

I'd given thought to Douglas in Seattle; I just don't think his restaurants have had the influence that others on the list have had. Same with Blue Ginger.

Of all of them, Charlie Trotter's may be the most glaring omission.

I wish that Lotus of Siam could be included. It's a brilliant restaurant, with a fantastic wine program for the food being served, but does it belong?


Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

mweinstein@eGstaff.org

Tasty Travails - My Blog

My eGullet FoodBog - A Tale of Two Boroughs

Was it you baby...or just a Brilliant Disguise?

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Sorry, Mitch, I missed Norman's on your list.

While Rodriguez may not have endured at any one restaurant, he created a good niche cuisine. Douglas may not be big nationally, but he has been instrumental in creating a major regional cuisine, I think more than any other single individual in the Pacific Northwest.

Here's another thought: Balthazar - granted they haven't done anything truly new, but they reawakened the bistro experience in the US.


John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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If you're going to include something by Doug Rodriguez, I think it should be his original Miami restaurant, not Patria.

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Here's another that I think absolutely belongs: Union Pacific. IMO this was the best and most exciting restaurant in NYC and perhaps the country in its time. Rocco Dispirito pushed the envelope as well as it has ever been pushed. A meal there still ranks as one of my all-time favorites.


John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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If you're going to include something by Doug Rodriguez, I think it should be his original Miami restaurant, not Patria.

I wouldn't argue.


John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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If one accepts the argument that Per Se should be on there because its a 4 star, then Daniel belongs there as well. As great as Daniel is, I'm not sure it otherwise meets the criteria here. It has always been excellent, but has it ever really been ground-breaking?

What about The Quilted Giraffe? The River Cafe?


John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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