Whenever we're tempted to believe that the Chronicle's Top 100 isn't such an influential canon of Bay Area dining anymore, we think back to an overheard quote from a child to his mother, published in Leah Garchik's column (albeit in the Chron) just last year: "It's been a tough day. Could we go to one of the Top 100 restaurants with a one-bell rating?" Michael Bauer's annual spring revision of this best-of list is certainly an event on par with the release of Michelin Guide updates around here and for many who've been reading Bauer reviews for a couple of decades, it probably carries more weight. And so, being the dutiful chroniclers of the local food scene that we are, we ran out to buy our physical, inky copy of the paper this morning, knowing that the new list will be (sadly) embargoed online through Tuesday.
Mr. Bauer had to make a lot of tough choices this year to make room for the 26 newcomers and new promotions that he announced on Thursday. As he writes in his intro to the list, "2010 should go down as the most exciting year of Bay Area dining in more than a quarter century," in other words his entire tenure at the Chronicle, which means that "some very deserving restaurants had to go" off of the list. Among the not-so surprising cuts from the 2011 list are Spruce, which is undergoing some changes in the kitchen that Bauer uses as an easy excuse to open up a slot for someplace new; The Dining Room at Ritz, which we knew wasn't going to make it after an egregious update review that is still making publicists wince with sympathy and titter with schadenfreude; Beretta and Tipsy Pig, which were never all that amazing food-wise, and likely only made it on in the first place for their cocktails and lively scene; and Flora, which has had the unique pleasure of having two Bauer updates this year, both of them bad.
Among the more surprising cuts are Etoile at Domaine Chandon, which only last year saw its young chef Perry Hoffman cooed over by the Chron as a Rising Star; Wexler's, for the same reason with chef Charlie Kleinman's 2010 accolades; Wood Tavern in Oakland, which as far as we've seen is still serving solid food, and which hasn't received a Bauer update since they opened to three stars in 2007; Farmhouse Inn & Restaurant in Forestville, which has a Michelin star; and longtime mainstay on this list Bix, which Bauer probably shed some tears over before letting go, Sophie's Choice-style.
Since we already knew the new additions, we begin below with some Harper's-style indexing on the changed list, and then with all of the players cut from this season's team. Further below, the full 2011 Top 100 Restaurants.
New San Francisco restaurants that opened in 2010 named to the list: 13
Number of restaurants outside of S.F. proper added or promoted: 8
Number of restaurants outside of S.F. proper dropped from the list this year: 10
Restaurants that appeared on older Top 100 lists that were re-promoted after being demoted: 6 (À Côté, Bistro Aix, Farallon, Fifth Floor, Gitane, Ubuntu)
Number of restaurants that were cut because they closed since April 2010: 0
Number of sister restaurants that are sharing spots on the list in order to make room for others: 5 (Chez Panisse/Chez Panisse Caf, Barbacco/Perbacco, Boot & Shoe Service/Pizzaiolo, Picco/Pizzeria Picco, Terra/Bar Terra)
All the restaurants cut in 2011:
Caf La Haye, Sonoma
Chez Papa Resto
Chow (and Park Chow, etc)
Farmhouse Inn & Restaurant, Forestville
Hog Island Oyster Co.
Madrona Manor, Healdsburg
Murray Circle, Sausalito
Press, St. Helena
The Dining Room at the Ritz
Vik's Chaat Corner
Yoshi's San Francisco
The complete new Top 100:
Baker & Banker
Bistro Don Giovanni
Flour + Water
House of Prime Rib
Mission Chinese Food
Pizzaiolo/Boot & Shoe
The Restaurant at Meadowood
Rosso Pizzeria & Wine Bar
Swan Oyster Depot
Va de Vi
Willi's Wine Bar
The Top 100 Restaurants [Chron - embargoed 'til Tuesday]
Related: Saison, Mission Chinese, Zero Zero All Added to the Chron Top 100; Commis, Not So Much [Grub Street]
Earlier: Aqua, Gitane, and Ubuntu Drop Off Chrons Top 100; Adesso, Frances, and Nombe Join the List [Grub Street - 2010]