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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The 100 highest-grossing independent restaurants in the U.S.

Ann Althouse's multifaceted blog provided a link to the 100 highest-grossing restaurants in the U.S.  She said, that “It looks like a good list of places to avoid.”  Can’t speak for all of them but here is my impression of the places I’ve been:
  • Smith & Wollensky, NYC -- if you like red meat, great big hunks of it, with strong red wine, this is your place;
  • Old Ebbitt Grill, Washington, DC -- like Smith & Wollensky, only with smaller red meat hunks, and everyone keeps telling you which Senator/Cabinet Secretary/Other Official is regularly seen here;
  • Wolfgang Puck Grand Cafe, Lake Buena Vista -- the word “passé” comes to mind, enough said;
  • Delmonico Steakshouse, Las Vegas -- willing to go back; but since it is run by the famous Emeril Lagasse one expects a little more “Bam!”;
  • Gladstone’s Malibu, Malibu -- after driving by on PCH [Pacific Coast Highway] for years and reading the sign, “Gladstone’s 4 Fish”, we finally went; so, been there, done that; at least the parking is good for something on PCH; 
  • Four Seasons, NYC -- Not [and this is a plus] related to the hotel on 57th; the decor is a species 1960s minimalist; the food is great, and this is still considered a "place to go”; we entertained a UN Ambassador at a table next to the “bubbling marble pool” in the “Pool Room” -- she was diplomatic [of course] but candid [fun!]; the wine bill was eyebrow raising;
  • George’s at the Cove, La Jolla -- Beautiful ocean views, decent California cuisine, no guilt but a bit dull;
  • Cliff House, San Francisco -- ate abalone there for the first time more than 20 years ago with a boss who liked to drink; no fond memories; the cold weather and fog were appropriate to the experience;  
  • Daniel, NYC -- superb food and service; I forgive them them the chandeliers that look like they came from a prop auction from the re-make of Battle Star Galactica and the quasi-collage art on the white paneled walls;  it’s also a good idea to blank-out some of the international guests whose wives are in couture while they wear running suits [I am not making this up!];
  • Greek Islands, Chicago -- went there with a friend who is a vegan; survived, happily;
  • Aureole, Las Vegas -- the best fois gras I’ve had on either side of the Atlantic; and I am not being influenced by the very tall wine bottle tower or that fact that I cleaned up at Black Jack at the adjoining casino;
 ... all of which brings me to the existential question:  is this familiarity with 11% of the list one of the reasons I need to go back to doing 5K per day?

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