I am on the road for my last trip of the Bizarre Foods season. Starting in a week, I can actually eat out in my hometown. Check out andrewzimmern.com for all my SOBE WFF coverage and the moment I hear anything about the F&W Magazine chefs’ nods I will let you know . . . but for now . . .
Eater.com lists The Top Ten Airport Restaurants and there is a shocker as far as I am concerned. One local eatery called out for excellence is Ike’s. I used to like Ike’s, truly. And I am happy that our local airport has been called out for something, congrats to all . . . But Ike’s isn’t even my favorite eatery at our own airport, Surdyk’s is. Here is my take on the Top Ten:
- One Flew South, Atlanta: Predictable food and inefficient service.
- Obrycki's, Baltimore: Some great soups when they are hot. Crab cakes are overrated.
- Legal Sea Foods, Boston: Very predictable, but decent fare for an airport.
- Tortas Frontera, Chicago O'Hare: Great place to grab something decent, one of my faves.
- Deep Blue Sushi, New York-JFK: Best airport sushi but that’s like saying best discount parachute jump company.
- Custom Burgers by Pat LaFrieda, New York-LaGuardia: I love Pat, and stop every time. The coffee shake is very good, the burgers are consistently overcooked and mistakenly assembled, fries have been cold the last two times, but I keep trying them every time so that says something.
- Encounter at LAX, Los Angeles: Never been.
- Ike's Food and Cocktails, Minneapolis: Other than the very good burger this place used to be good, but has fallen into a state of carelessness that makes me walk right by it unless I am with my kid and have an hour to kill.
- 42nd Street Oyster Bar, Raleigh, N.C.: Decent, not half as good as it could be, but great concept.
- Ivar's, Seattle: Awesome, I love Ivar’s. Easy food, simple, and expectations are met.
Top Chef Masters is coming back in April and some of my pals are in full effect. Hopefully Celina Tio and Suvir Saran will go far in the competition. Ruth Reichl (one of the stars of Bizarre Foods NYC episode airing in the sring) is a judge this year, which I think is an insanely cool move. Gael Greene is a legend but was often hard to watch on the show. Not hard to watch was Kelly Choi, but they replaced her with Curtis Stone. I can’t wait to see how he handles the reins. Most disappointing to me was the absence of Jay Rayner, who I think was amazingly funny. It’s inside baseball, but having been on the show I can assure you that everyone contributes great material but with the focus on the chefs, every judge is reduced to a line or two in the edit room . . . no one’s fault, just a fact.
The bigger point: Magical Elves know what they are doing so I am betting this year is bigger and badder than ever. Rayner is about to start doing restaurant reviews for Saveur Magazine , as is Gael Greene.