Michael Bauer revealed his picks for the
ten eleven best new restaurants in 2010, having hemmed and hawed a bit about whittling down a huge list of worthy candidates to a mere ten. By way of introductory remarks, he calls bullshit on national magazines who seem to be more excited about L.A. lately, saying that S.F. is much more ahead of the curve than ever before with our food. "On both ends of the price spectrum, it feels as if trends are starting here that will eventually show up in other parts of the country." Then he goes through some justifications for those restaurants he left off the list (e.g. Baker & Banker, Wayfare Tavern, and spinoffs like Zero Zero and Barbacco), before getting down to the blessed eleven.
And they are, in order of the publication of their reviews:
Frances - "Perello has created a little restaurant with a huge soul... She's crafted a menu that's elevated in style but not in price."
Marlowe - "This has got to be the year of the hamburger, and I consider Marlowe's the Bay Area's best... But, Marlowe isn't a one-note restaurant. The poulet vert is one of the finest variations on roast chicken to be found."
Oenotri - "I get so caught up in the chefs' treatment of such hard-to-cook items as squab, leg of lamb, wood-oven-roasted black cod... that I tend to forget these guys also make some of the best pizza in the Bay Area."
Saison - "In the dining room, a fixed-price eight-course menu is as meticulously crafted and sourced as you'll find at four-star places like Meadowood or Cyrus, but the approach is much more casual."
Prospect - "[Chef Ravi Kapur is] one of an emerging generation of chefs who scan the globe for inspiration, secure great products and enhance them with modern techniques."
Ippuku - "An Asian sensibility seems to be influencing many Bay Area kitchens these days, but few places strive for the authenticity Christian Geideman channels at his Berkeley restaurant."
Bar Agricole - "For years restaurateurs have been trying to craft a concept that gives equal weight to the alcohol and food, but it took Bar Agricole to achieve that goal."
Benu - "The food is so complex and precise that it requires a diner's undivided attention. Service is sharp yet understated, and the wine pairings are probably the best in the city."
Commonwealth - "Chef Jason Fox crafts food that could easily come from the kitchen of Manresa or Coi, but the most expensive item is $16."
Plum - "Daniel Patterson uses the same vegetable-based sensibility at his Oakland neighborhood restaurant, Plum, as he does at his much more expensive San Francisco restaurant, Coi."
Michael Mina - "It says a lot when a chef like Michael Mina can reinvent himself by changing his eponymous restaurant into a more hotel-friendly concept like Bourbon Steak, and then inhabit an iconic restaurant like Aqua and make it better."
2010's Top New Bay Area Restaurants [Chron]
Related: The Year That Was: What Seventeen Local Chefs Will Remember About 2010 [Grub Street]