How Can You Choose 50 Restaurants?
The March issue is both a gift and a curse for me. I love it for the fact that we get to really champion the best restaurants in town. And I don't love it for the fact that it's like choosing which kid gets the prize in the Cracker Jack.
Imagine your job was to secretly evaluate drivers. You had to get in the car with someone, not telling what you were doing, and then just drive with them for three hours. Maybe one was a tailgater but a spectacular merger. And another drove the perfect speed limit but refused to use a blinker. Maybe another was hampered by a beat-up car that just couldn't get up to speed, though he followed all the other rules. By the end you had to choose whether each was a good driver and rewarded $10,000 or a bad driver and penalized $10,000. Would it be so easy to pick? Ok, maybe it's not that dramatic, but that's what it feels like to us.
This year was particularly tough because we decided to focus our efforts. We could only choose 50 restaurants to include. We've done more and we've done less (75 last year and 36 the year before). This year we decided we should set a standard and own it: 50 it is, and 50 it will be from now on. It actually worked out pretty well in that the top 25 were consistent among all the critics. It was the other 25 that caused the ruckus. Because we know people eat differently every day, and because we know how passionate people can get about their burgers/pizza/foie gras meatballs, we take this job very seriously. There were multiple e-mails popping back and forth with nominees. Places that were stricken by one critic would often be plugged back in after a meaningful plea from another. It's not easy, though everyone seems to think it is, and there are names on the list this year that will shock some people.
But I think this year's list is a good list, and it will likely be different from next year's list. It's not just full of the new and splashy, nor is it mired in tradition with the same old standard fine-dining joints of yore. It's balanced—a lot like our Twin Cities—between what has set the stage and what's currently killing it there. We hope you agree, but we also kind of hope you disagree. That's the real fun in all this.
See the full list of 50 Best Restaurants in our March Issue, on newsstands now.