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About those restaurant rankings...

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The Wall Street Journal has an article by Jay Cheshes about the growing number of "Best of" lists. Everybody seems to have a list of best restaurants in the world. Some are the work of a single critic, others are crowd sourced. Of these, the crowd may be especially well traveled (OA is mentioned), or exceptionally diverse, such as TripAdvisor. The absence of mega-sites like TripAdvisor is curious. With tens of thousands of comments, I've found that the aggregate of comments for a place on TripAdvisor tend to be on the mark as you calibrate the known / unknown.




Some lists spring from one critic’s sensibility, others are crowd sourced. “I’m a big fan of the purely subjective list,” said Adam Rapoport, editor in chief of Bon Appétit, whose yearly best-new-restaurants rundown has been driven largely by a single critic. “I’m not interested in lists where an unnamed group of voters is asked to vote on restaurants they may or may not have gone to.”

The World’s 50 Best Restaurants relies on some 900 anonymous voters for its hugely influential and often controversial take on high-end gastronomy. This list has come under fire in recent years for its opaque voter pool and a litany of perceived snubs—for favoring men over women, for rewarding only a particular style of theatrical cooking, for brazenly ignoring the French. “We don’t expect everyone to agree with the ranking,” said Mr. Drew. “That’s part of the fun.”


La Liste, initially sponsored by the French government, addressed the lack of French restaurants in the "50" list.


The World's 50 Best focuses on underserved markets. Places outside the Paris-London-NYC-Los Angeles-Tokyo axis. A restaurant in Lima, for example.


OpinionatedAboutDining, offers real name reviews and a series of lists for various regions.


Vox Media's Eater offers a list of "enduring" places.


Bonappetit.com's list for hipster


Foodanwine's list of Best New Chefs. "We see ourselves as talent scouts for chefs" Food & Wine acknowledges its ongoing relationship with its top choices. Helping with marketing, etc.



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Why is it, then, that when you look at the rank-ordered listings on Trip Advisor, often the top-rated place is a pizza joint, a tea room or some other manifestation of an ersatz restaurant? Trip Advisor is a collection mostly of budget diners, backpackers, and gastronomic know-nothings. Still, I use it all the time because its coverage is close to 100% inclusive and provides links to websites where I can go and look at photos and menus which, given that the sense of taste, unlike sight and sound, can't be grasped and retained, will provide me the most "information" possible for me to make an educated guess as to which restaurants might best appeal to my sensibilities and preferences.


Speaking of lists, my brother jokingly suggested many years ago that I buy a football helmut and, in mimicking the Ohio State football team with their buckeye-festooned helmuts, affix Michelin-star decals every time I went to an appropriate restaurant in France. That is really meant for the people who compile and take these lists seriously.

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