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Tom Sietsema's 2004 Fall Dining Guide


babka
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Yeah,

How the heck could he rate Charlie Palmer (***) above Ray's the steaks(**)? :shock: Oh yeah, he probably expects atmosphere. Not me.

Other than that, on a quick glance, I think Herr Sietsema did a bang up job as usual.

If someone writes a book about restaurants and nobody reads it, will it produce a 10 page thread?

Joe W

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How the heck could he rate Charlie Palmer (***) above Ray's the steaks(**)? :shock:  Oh yeah, he probably expects atmosphere. Not me.

That was my first thought.

My second was that now it's going to be even harder to get reservations and our ritual Monday takeover of Palena is in jeopardy.

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I'm glad to see that some smaller places like Colorado Kitchen and Montmartre are recieving attention.

I don't understand why Raku was even considered though.

True Heroism is remarkably sober, very undramatic.

It is not the urge to surpass all others at whatever cost,

but the urge to serve others at whatever cost. -Arthur Ashe

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Beautiful

But today I'm willing to argue with 2 Amy's tooting ***

(and  also Zaytinya)

zaytinya has gone downhill

Edited by jmc8y (log)

I wanna say something. I'm gonna put it out there; if you like it, you can take it, if you don't, send it right back. I want to be on you.

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But where are:

Ardeo, Bistro Bis, Cafe Atlantico, Caucus Room, Ceiba, Circle Bistro, David Greggory, Dish, Ella's, Gabriel, Galileo, Gerard's Place, Indique, Kaz, Kinkead's, LeftBank, Marcel's, Matchbox, Obelisk, Le Paradou, Pizzeria Paradiso, Poste, Red Sage, Sette Osteria, Taberna del Alabardero, Ten Penh, Tosca, 2941, Vidalia, Yanyu?

Hmm...

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A year or two ago, I found myself in one of those corn mazes in Maryland. It wasn't my choice - the friend whose birthday it was thought it would be very, very fun. After a sunset picnic dinner eaten near the smelliest turkey farm ever, we advanced to the maze.

A kindly older woman explained the concept to us:

Two mazes (she didn't know if they interlocked or not)

Various checkpoints where you could punch your little card to show you've been through the maze

The problem? We weren't given a map of any sort so we couldn't make it a start-finish race. We also weren't sure where (or how numerous) the checkpoints were. You could be in there for ages without knowing if you were done.

We quickly decided as a group "what's the point?"

So what's my point?

The point of this oddball post is that I'm really not sure what the point of this dining guide is. Organized as it is - 52 restaurants, one for each week of the year - shouldn't these be the 52 best and brightest, not "oh, we need a Cuban spot so here's a place with one star"?

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But where are:

Ardeo, Bistro Bis, Cafe Atlantico, Caucus Room, Ceiba, Circle Bistro, David Greggory, Dish, Ella's, Gabriel, Galileo, Gerard's Place, Indique, Kaz, Kinkead's, LeftBank, Marcel's, Matchbox, Obelisk, Le Paradou, Pizzeria Paradiso, Poste, Red Sage, Sette Osteria, Taberna del Alabardero, Ten Penh, Tosca, 2941, Vidalia, Yanyu?

Hmm...

Tom was kindly making sure we could go SOMEWHERE to eat over the next couple of weeks. :rolleyes:

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But where are:

Ardeo, Bistro Bis, Cafe Atlantico, Caucus Room, Ceiba, Circle Bistro, David Greggory, Dish, Ella's, Gabriel, Galileo, Gerard's Place, Indique, Kaz, Kinkead's, LeftBank, Marcel's, Matchbox, Obelisk, Le Paradou, Pizzeria Paradiso, Poste, Red Sage, Sette Osteria, Taberna del Alabardero, Ten Penh, Tosca, 2941, Vidalia, Yanyu?

Hmm...

Random thoughts on Rocks comments.

- Ella's? Matchbox?, Pizzeria Paradiso? Sette Osteria? no, no, no, and no. Fine places in their own right but on a list of favorite 52 RESTAURANTS? No

- Laboratorio and Minibar are on the list. Are they really "separate" restaurants from their overarching organizations? Would that mean that Osteria Galileo (which, let's face it, hasn't received the best reviews around here) should be on the list with the other parts of Galileo? Perhaps even the lunch grill?

- haven't been to Kinkaed's since the redesign/renovation, but my last experience there was pretty disappointing.

Random thoughts on my own

-Personal feeling is that the Jaleos are on the decline. Why? I don't know. Proof? a certain *edge* that the dishes used to have seems to be fading. Why? I recall a recent thread referring to the corporatization of certain places. That said, I haven't noticed the same problem at Zaytinya and the new places seem to be starting off to high praise.

- I don't think that Guajiro, while good, is even the best Cuban in downtown Silver Spring, much less the best Latino food you can get in SS.

Then again, this guide is specifically about "favorites" not the "best".

To each their own.

Hearty congratulations to those from our little forum who made the list.

Edited by JPW (log)

If someone writes a book about restaurants and nobody reads it, will it produce a 10 page thread?

Joe W

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As always, the Guide was excellent reading. Thought Tom S. kind of s-t-r-e-e-e-t-c-h-e-d to tie the theme together - other than in the title, was the "Food for All Seasons" business mentioned even once?

Edited by eunny jang (log)
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Having eaten at Sette last night, I echo JPW's comment and wouldn't include it on my list of best or favorite restaurants. Its good and that is ok. I go back from time to time because it is good food, good location, good pricing but it is never my first thought.

While there was some reference to seasonal specialities in the narratives (referencing heirloom tomatos or choweders), it wasn't more then his typical review and you would have to read through each one to tease out this theme.

Should we help Tom along? Now that it seems like fall, besides pho, what are you looking to eat and where will you eat it?

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Unfortunately (or fortunately depending), I don't think this guide is really designed for the eGullet crowd. It's for the "more than one million Sunday post" readers who can't be bothered to explore the DC restaurant scene. It's the parts of Tom's chats that we all hate (where should I go for my anniversary/birthday/date questions) distilled into one handy database.

Although it is good to see that all the chefs that we have had on eGullet for chats made the guide.

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But where are:

Ardeo, Bistro Bis, Cafe Atlantico, Caucus Room, Ceiba, Circle Bistro, David Greggory, Dish, Ella's, Gabriel, Galileo, Gerard's Place, Indique, Kaz, Kinkead's, LeftBank, Marcel's, Matchbox, Obelisk, Le Paradou, Pizzeria Paradiso, Poste, Red Sage, Sette Osteria, Taberna del Alabardero, Ten Penh, Tosca, 2941, Vidalia, Yanyu?

Hmm...

Good questions. And it's easy for a reviewer -- or anyone -- to get so hung up on their own gimmick -- um, theme -- that the whole list like this gets silly. It would, theoretically, be possible for a critic to rank every restaurant he or she has visited and put the 52 best on a list, and that would be a useful thing to have. On the other hand, other publications already do that, and a number of the restaurants on the list are already well known (I'll bet you pulled your list off the top of your head) and well-booked. Or they've become arrogant. Or the quality, though high, does not justify even higher prices.

It appears that Tom has done a little matrix that crosses variety with enjoyability --both, admittedly, subjective terms -- and decided to send people to what he considered deserving spots that delivered value, delight and a change of pace. I was pleased to see Pesce, Colorado Kitchen, Ray's and other less known (outside eGullet-land) 2-stars on the list. I haven't been to a lot of the places you mention, Rocks, but between my experience, reviews and other feedback, and eG, I'll wager I can guess why a lot of them weren't included.

Ardeo: Boring

Galileo: service problems

Gerard's Place: poor price/quality

Le Paradou: "no heart"

Sette: more flash than substance

Vidalia: HillValley's savage review

(actually, I've been to all of these at least once)

In other words, although the food may be good -- even excellent -- there are other restaurants where, for the money you spend, you will have a better time.

Others, I'm thinking Marcel's and Indique, were perhaps victims of culinary affirmative action: not good enough within their category to force the exclusion of, say, the list's lone Korean place, or Tutto Bene, a way to eat great Italian in the suburbs without the expense of Laboratorio or Maestro.

One can quibble with the list, but it's perhaps more valuable than a traditional guide, given that we have the Washingtonian and other sources for "best of," and certainly more interesting.

I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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Unfortunately (or fortunately depending), I don't think this guide is really designed for the eGullet crowd.  It's for the "more than one million Sunday post" readers who can't be bothered to explore the DC restaurant scene.  It's the parts of Tom's chats that  we all hate (where should I go for my anniversary/birthday/date questions) distilled into one handy database.

Now, now. No wonder they call us "food snobs." There are a number of perfectly nice people out there who spend their lives commuting to work, raising children, volunteering for the homeless or just hanging out with a beer on a glorious day rather than "exploring the restaurant scene," but who nonetheless appreciate a nice meal every now and again. Getting them out of Olive Garden and into Firefly is good for them, it's good for restauranteurs whom we like and respect, and it's good for the DC dining scene because it creates a morket for even more good restaurants.

You can sneer at me, but don't sneer at my parents.

Edited by Busboy (log)

I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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ok, so maybe "can't be bothered" is a bit harsh, but the point is clearly the guide is geared toward the non eGullet crowd.

I think that's true. The guide is certainly bare-bones guidance for those who are not proclaimed foodies, and nothing's wrong with that.

Perhaps it's a nice idea to put together our own "The eGullet Guide to Eating Out in DC". With ratings, best quotes, amusing stories and compromising pictures.

Resident Twizzlebum

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But where are:

Ardeo, Bistro Bis, Cafe Atlantico, Caucus Room, Ceiba, Circle Bistro, David Greggory, Dish, Ella's, Gabriel, Galileo, Gerard's Place, Indique, Kaz, Kinkead's, LeftBank, Marcel's, Matchbox, Obelisk, Le Paradou, Pizzeria Paradiso, Poste, Red Sage, Sette Osteria, Taberna del Alabardero, Ten Penh, Tosca, 2941, Vidalia, Yanyu?

Hmm...

The point I was trying to make with my list is that the guide seems to be most noteworthy for its exclusions, and I assure you that Tom has been to each of the above restaurants multiple times in the past year.

It's important for everyone to read these few paragraphs of text before wondering what Tom's list of restaurants is all about.

Once you read this, you'll be well-armed to praise or criticize as you see fit.

Cheers,

Rocks.

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