The Five Restaurants That Should Be in the 2011 Top 100, But Aren’t

Bar Bambino would be on our list, but yeah, it's not our list.
Bar Bambino would be on our list, but yeah, it’s not our list. Photo: Courtesy of Aidlin Darling Architects

We figured since we went there last year, we’d go there again and offer up our unsolicited thoughts about a few restaurants that probably ought to have made the cut in Bauer’s Top 100, released (at least in its paper form) yesterday. We have no real quibble with the restaurants Bauer cut in order to make room for 26 newcomers and promotions (but Etoile? really?), and given that this arbitrary 100 number has to be reached each year to make things tidy, there are always going to be some glaring omissions — Commis continuing to be the first one we point to, two years running now, because it feels like the most subjective and Bauer-specific of the snubs.

Also, the Chron seems to treat this as a 2010 list, even though it comes out four months into the new year, ignoring any new restaurants that will obviously make the cut next year but which may not have received their full review yet — Marlowe, which opened in February of last year, probably should have made last year’s list, but they had to wait fourteen months for the honor.

Thankfully, three of our nominees of last year — Saison, Marlowe, and Fifth Floor, albeit now with a new chef — have been added to the 2011 list.

So now allow us to predict/recommend a few for inclusion the next time around.

1. Plate Shop — Kim Alter’s warm and inventive new restaurant in Sausalito is a mere two months old, and Bauer’s review is due soon, but obviously not soon enough. He’s already called it “ambitious,” we’ve likened Alter’s food to a more composed and plated version of Frances, and we’d wager this will be the first on the “for consideration next year” list that Bauer will start posting on the Top 100 page in June.

2. Sons & Daughters — A case of a place that’s not so new it shouldn’t have made it, but apparently wasn’t up to snuff with the thirteen S.F. restaurants that opened last year that did make the cut. We’d argue co-chefs Teague Moriarty and Matt McNamara are doing some seriously fine and innovative food that blows at least a couple of Bauer’s new picks out of the water (*cough* Mamacita). Both Michelin and Food & Wine have our backs on this one.

3. The Blue Plate — This stalwart place in La Lengua continues to be one of our favorite neighborhood restaurants in town, and they’re still serving up excellent food on par with, say, Canteen and Marlowe, which hold spots on the list.

4. Barndiva — Bauer himself said the place had “matured into a destination” last year and awarded it three stars. The food is top notch and the cocktails and wine aren’t anything to sneeze at either. This seems like an outer-Bay omission that he was hoping no one would notice.

5. Bar Bambino
— The move toward Friuli and Tyrol marks a welcome refocusing for this popular Mission Italian place, with some solid, flavorful, and inspiring new plates from chef Lizzie Binder that are giving new life to the wine list in the process.

Also, there’s Commis, but we’ll stop harping on that and accept that Bauer may never love it. And Atelier Crenn probably falls in the too-new category, but Bauer’s verdict should be in soon. Nick Balla’s work at Bar Tartine is coming along and will likely make next year’s list, too, if we had to guess. But anyhow, we’ll stop now. It’s not our list, after all.

Spruce, Bix, Dining Room at the Ritz All Dropped from the Chron Top 100 [Grub Street]
Earlier: Saison, Mission Chinese, Zero Zero All Added to the Chron Top 100; Commis, Not So Much

The Five Restaurants That Should Be in the 2011 Top 100, But Aren’t