Young and Hungry

The Decision to Skip Komi, Citronelle, Etc.: Provocative? Legit? Or Stupid?

This morning, I got into a small online argument with a fellow D.C. gastronome (can I just pause here and say that I hate almost all the words used to describe a food lover; they all carry the connotation that you can't tie your shoes without the help of a sommelier or bus boy) who disagreed with my decision to exclude the local heavy hitters from my Young & Hungry Dining Guide.

Wrote this epicure (again with the gastro-dandy terms) over two separate e-mails:

No Komi? Omitting Citronelle is trendy. Omitting Komi is foolhardy. (And no, I'm not a New Yorker. I think Komi beats Pierre Gagnaire in Paris, which is 3 stars and top ten in the "best in the world" list.)

Having places on your list that are not on Tom's or Todd's is what makes it interesting and cool. But entirely omitting from the list a place that's on everyone's list, and tops on many of them, seems deliberately provocative. But we'll just agree to disagree (unless you want to buy me dinner at Komi so we can sit down together and you can make your case against their inclusion!)"

 Here was my response back to this international eater:

Provocative, yes, but really more realistic. Let's be honest here, man. What are these types of lists about? Are they about the critic, who wants to parrot much of the same list so that she/he can prove his/her bonafides as a diner and critic? If so, then, yes, it should include Komi and Citronelle and all the usual players. But I think these lists should be practical: They shouldn't be all about the critic. (I realize the built-in absurdity of that last sentence, given the list is mine only and reflects my biases, but work with me here!) They should be useful tools for the local diners who love to eat out. Seriously, do you really want me to waste 10 spots on places you already know about, just so you can hear me prattle on about how great the place is? Isn't that the equivalent of people who buy political rant books that cater to their own bias?

What are your thoughts on this matter? Should the D.C. scene's 800-pound gorillas have been included?

Comments

  1. #1

    Any gastro-foodie worth his finishing salt knows about the ten-star spots. I'm much more excited about under-the-radar must-haves, like those incredible ribs on RI Ave. Thanks for the knowledge Tim.

  2. #2

    I hate "provocative to be provacative" (and sometimes think critics are especially guilty of that offense) but I loved that I hadn't heard of half of the places on the list. HOWEVER, the list is titled "50 Best Restaurants in DC". Sure we all know Komi is one of the best. But how do the readers know where you drew the line in terms of Places Everyone Knows They Should Go vs. Places That Everyone Should Go To But Might Not Necessarily Know About vs. Places Everyone Knows About But You Don't Think They Should Go. God I hope that made sense...

    I think we'd all be curious to know what would be dropped from this list of 50 if Komi was added.

  3. #3

    I completely agree with Dan here. Even though I love them, I don't need somebody else to tell me how great Hell-Burger is or how revolutionary Minibar may be, because it's common knowledge at this point. If nobody in their right mind would argue that a restaurant isn't good, is it worth saying how good it is?

    Props to you, Tim, for using this list to steer people towards some of the other great restaurants in this area instead of just listing the same tired set of restaurants, even if they are worthy of the praise they receive.

  4. #4

    Just change the name of the list to "50 places that you may not necessarily know about that I think are really good" and you'll be in business. Otherwise it's a silly list.

  5. #5

    I totally agree with those on changing the name of the list. You could have used some humor like put best in quotes or something of the like. But I really love the idea of doing what you did, Tim.

  6. #6

    Arlene and Sam are on the right track here - the big problem is that your title suggests that these are the "50 Best Restaurants in DC." Period.

    Ignoring the fact that only 21 of the restaurants on the list are in DC (12 are in MD and 17 are in VA), the "best" designation could definitely be confusing for anyone who isn't familiar with the usual suspects that you chose to omit.

    Add to that the fact that you consciously opted not to include Corduroy (which I assumed was one of those obvious ones you left off), and it seems like some clarification is definitely in order.

  7. #7

    ...Forgot to say that the decision to omit the heavy-hitters makes sense and is appreciated, just likely to cause some confusion as it stands currently.

    Sorry about that. Great list - eager to check out some of these hidden gems!

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