Grudgingly, it seems, Michael Bauer admits today that he’s been unfairly grumpy about the slate of new openers in 2011 as compared to the banner year that was 2010 — which he declared prior to last year’s wrap-up “the best year for new restaurant openings in the 24+ years I’ve been been working at The Chronicle.” He’s been complaining here and there on the blog that his job has been drudgery in recent months, with few dishes that have thrilled him, but today he takes that back as he gives us a hint of which restaurants will land on his annual roundup of top ten newcomers. (Statistically speaking, landing on this list tends to mean long life for a restaurant in this town, so it’s a bit of a big deal.)
So, for all of you with your Inside Baseball scorecards out, the list we see shaping up looks like this, if we had to guess, based on what he wrote today and what we know he’s written previously about these spots:
Cotogna (which technically opened last year but didn’t get reviewed until 2011)
Fifth Floor (he gives a shout-out to David Bazirgan’s revamp, to which he gave three and a half stars, but it’s unclear if this qualifies for a newcomers list)
Mateo’s Cocina Latina (which is getting reviewed this Sunday)
Park Tavern (which called “the Stars of the 21st century“)
Wo Hing General Store (which he hasn’t yet reviewed)
He makes mention of Chambers (which he didn’t seem to love), Piccino (which might take a wild card spot from Fifth Floor), Leopold’s, as well as AQ and the new Lers Ros — neither of which he’s been to yet because they’re too new, and which may not get reviewed before the end of December cutoff. And we suppose Mission Chinese won’t make it on here, despite being reviewed in 2011, because it had actually opened a full eight months earlier in mid-2010.
Interestingly, he leaves off any mention of one of this year’s most high-profile openings, Locanda. He gave it two and a half stars back in June (the same rating he gave Atelier Crenn, which has since garnered a Michelin star, so maybe that’s swaying him), but maybe the music was just too loud.