For its March issue, Bon Appétit proffers a nifty and interactive feature on the top twenty restaurants that are at this moment doing significant things for food in America — you’ll notice by calling them "important," the magazine avoids the pitfalls of adjectives like "best" or "trendiest" and pretty much opens up a new way of looking at restaurant culture altogether. "Restaurants," writes editor-in-chief Adam Rapoport, "more than movies or music or literature — are this generation’s arbiters of taste." So how tasteful is the list? Let’s take a look.
2. The Restaurant at Meadowood
7. Eleven Madison Park
8. Pok Pok
9. Mission Chinese Food
13. Le Bernardin
15. The Walrus and the Carpenter
16. Shake Shack
17. Franklin Barbecue
20. Swan Oyster Depot
In all, many of the usual suspects pop up here (ahem, Mission Chinese, ahem) along with a few unexpected surprises. (Balthazar, which gets a fun little "by-the-numbers" thing, seems to be the George Clooney of restaurants — handsome, ever-graying, respected by everyone.)
Two sidebars buffer the list: In one, chefs from the restaurant named above name their picks for most important restaurant; Dave Chang picks the Cheesecake Factory, for example. ("Seriously. They consistently make more people happy than any other restaurant.") In the other, editor Andrew Knowlton addresses the haters preemptively with a secondary list of heavy-hitters like Daniel that didn’t make the cut, but even better, "have graduated to another level and inhabit a higher plane."