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04.04.2005

Top 100 Bay Area Restaurants From The Chronicle

The San Francisco Chronicle, and more specifically, Restaurant Editor Michael Bauer released their list of the top 100 restaurants in the Bay Area. With all such lists, the making of which I utterly dislike as a concept, it must be taken with a grain of salt.

Here are the top 17 restaurants according to Bauer (in reverse alphabetical order by star rating):

4 STARS:
The French Laundry (Yountville)
La Folie
Fleur de Lys
Chez Panisse (Berkeley)

3.5 STARS
Zuni Cafe
Terra (St. Helena)
PlumpJack Cafe
Oliveto (Oakland)
Michael Mina
Jardiniere
Gary Danko
Farmhouse Inn (Forestville)
Farallon
Dry Creek Kitchen (Healdsburg)
Campton Place
Aqua
Acquerello

Interesting list in a number of ways. For starters I wouldn't put Fleur de Lys in that top 4. I've only been there twice, but neither time has been spectacular. Barring some significant new changes in the kitchen, I think it has no right to be in the top four.

It's amazing that the city of San Francisco actually only has two 4 star restaurants and that a full 30% of the top 17 restaurants are not in the city limits. Perhaps our reputation as an international dining destination is being floated by the 3 star and below categories?

Looking at the 3.5 star places it's interesting to see there's a real mix of restaurants in there, from the ultra-executive aspirations of Gary Danko to the casual bistro settings of Zuni Cafe and Plumpjack to the B&B atmosphere of the Farmhouse Inn (which I haven't been to).

Conspicuously absent of course, are any restaurants from south of San Francisco, which I think is a real shame. If we're going to include Berkeley and Forestville, why not go the same number of miles south and include Mountain View, Los Gatos and Santa Cruz? This would allow you to get in a few more fantastic 4 star places like Le Papillon and Manresa, not to mention Chez TJ and a few others that would fall easily into the 3 or 3.5 star category. While I understand the need to limit the scope of inquiry at some point, it seems more arbitrary than logical to not include the Peninsula and South Bay.

I have lots more quibbles as well with various individual placements (Where's Quince? Delfina?) but I'm not going to turn this into a personal referendum on Michael Bauer reviews.

The full list is accessible and (barely) searchable on the Web. Keep in mind that when you sort by star rating, the restaurants with the most stars are at the bottom. How's that for intuitive?

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