Sommeliers Pick Best Values on Top 100 Wine Lists

cellar Sommeliers Pick Best Values on Top 100 Wine ListsThere are many metrics that go into creating a standout wine list, and one is, absolutely, value. We asked sommeliers at several of the 2013 Diners’ Choice Award winners for Top 100 Wine Lists restaurants to reveal the best values on their wine lists. 

* Alexandria Cubbage, Head Sommelier, Veritas, New York, New York: “One of the best values on the Veritas wine list is the 1995 magnum of Stony Hill Chardonnay for $275.  It represents a great value because this wine delivers the complexities and layered subtleties of fine Burgundy with the fruit character of Napa Valley at a fraction of the cost of fine Burgundy. Stony Hill made its first vintage of Chardonnay in 1952, and continues to showcase the longevity with which well-made wines from Napa Valley can attain.  This bottle is also special because it is in magnum form and is available on the Veritas wine list from Park B. Smith’s personal wine collection.  It is a rare treat to have this wine on our list.”

* Harley Carbery, Director of Wine, Aureole, Las Vegas, Nevada: “Hirsch, Bohan Dillon, Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast 2011 for $85 a bottle. The wine is a wonderful, true expression of Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir, it shows as well as many wines twice as expensive, and is always a crowd pleaser.”

* Katelyn Peil, Wine Director, Purple Cafe and Wine Bar, Woodinville, Washington: “Although there are a lot of great values to be found on my list, for me, an especially great value is found in the Catena Malbec from Vista Flores, Argentina. This wine is 100% Malbec from vineyard sites that are found at over 3,000 feet elevation. It is structured and complex, and really over delivers for a price point of $42 on our list. It is my goal to build a value-centric list while representing the many wine regions of the World in addition to being paired with the wide variety of foods offered at Purple Café and Wine Bar.”

* Branden Bidwell, Wine Director, Wine Cask, Santa Barbara, California:  “The ‘best value’ on our list is a tough question. We focus mainly on local, Santa Barbara County wines and because of our good relationships with most of the local producers on our list, we like to think that all of our Santa Barbara County selections are a great value. If I have to pick one, however, it would be the Margerum ‘M5′ Rhone varietal blend. Doug Margerum is a fantastic winemaker, and this is a terrific value. We offer the wine by the glass, and our guests love it and often buy bottles to take with them.”

* Edgar Poureshagh, Certified Sommelier/General Manager, 3Twenty Wine Lounge, Los Angeles, California: “The best value on the list is our collection of wines with significant age that are still reasonably priced. I love serving wines that are ready to drink, and when I can find wines (like aged German Rieslings and Spanish Rioja of superlative quality) that I can serve at a reasonable price, it lets me offer our guests a great wine experience, without the exorbitantly high cost often associated with fine wines.”

* Kristin Jonna, Owner/Certified Sommelier, Vinology, Ann Arbor, Michigan: “I think one of our best values currently would be the Protos Tempranillo, Ribera del Duero!  Delicious, depth of character for only $36 a bottle.”

Continue reading…

OpenTable Diner Reviews Reveal Top 100 Wine Lists

corks blog OpenTable Diner Reviews Reveal Top 100 Wine ListsAs the grape harvest continues at the nation’s vineyards, we are pleased to announce the 2013 Diners’ Choice Award winners for the Top 100 Restaurants with the Most Notable Wine Lists. These awards reflect the combined opinions of more than 5 million reviews submitted by verified OpenTable diners for more than 15,000 restaurants in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

Featuring talented sommeliers and lists to impress any oenophile, the winners span 27 states and include Canlis in Seattle, The French Laundry in Yountville, California, and Veritas in New York City. Home to the nation’s most renowned vineyards, California accounts for 21 honorees, followed by Maryland with eight winners and Florida, New York, Ohio, Virginia, and Washington with five apiece. Missouri, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Texas restaurants each boast four winning restaurants. Michigan and Nevada both claim three winners. Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Massachusetts, Nebraska, New Jersey, Oregon, and Tennessee each have two winning restaurants. Arizona, Delaware, Iowa, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin restaurants are also represented. American fare restaurants had the greatest number of winners, followed by those serving Italian and tapas/small plate cuisines.

Continue reading…

San Francisco 2014 Michelin Starred Restaurants Unveiled: Reserve Today!

Quince Michelin1 San Francisco 2014 Michelin Starred Restaurants Unveiled: Reserve Today!
Quince earned a second Michelin star this year.

OpenTable is pleased to highlight the honorees in the MICHELIN Guide San Francisco 2014. Thirty-eight restaurants are included, with two Bay Area restaurants receiving the Michelin three-star level, the highest recognition in the culinary world, and seven achieving two Michelin stars. Twenty-nine restaurants earned one Michelin star, with one new addition for State Bird Provisions.

Being included in the respected MICHELIN Guide is a sign of excellence and quality. In the U.S., San Francisco is one of only three cities where Michelin publishes an annual guide. The others are New York and Chicago. The MICHELIN Guide New York 2014 was published October 1, and the MICHELIN Guide Chicago 2014 will be released on November 13.

Congratulations to all the recipients, including:

Three Stars: The French Laundry and The Restaurant at Meadowood.

Two Stars: Atelier CrennBenuCoiManresa, Quinceand Saison.

One Star: AcquerelloAll SpiceAmeAuberge du SoleilAzizaBouchonBoulevardCampton PlaceChez TJCommisFarmhouse Inn & Restaurant, Keiko à Nob HillLa FolieLa ToqueLuceMaderaMadrona ManorMichael MinaPlumed HorseSolbarSons & DaughtersSPQRSpruce, State Bird Provisions, and The Village Pub.

Continue reading…

On Our Plate: Delaware Dines Out; Hawaii Restaurant Week; Hakkasan Beverly Hills; Brussels Sprouts Converts; Food Day 2013 + More

DDO On Our Plate: Delaware Dines Out; Hawaii Restaurant Week; Hakkasan Beverly Hills; Brussels Sprouts Converts; Food Day 2013 + MoreHappenings on and around OpenTable…

* Wednesday, October 24 is Food Day, a nationwide celebration and a movement for healthy, affordable, and sustainable food. Find an event near you.

* Hakkasan has opened its latest location in Beverly Hills. Read all about it, and book a table.

* The 2014 San Francisco Bib Gourmand restaurants have been named. Did your favorite affordable Bay Area eatery make the list?

* Had trouble booking a RezBook reservation at State Bird Provisions in San Francisco? Here’s why.

* Help fight hunger in Boston. Purchase tickets to the Lovin’ Spoonfuls Ultimate Tailgate Party on November 10.

* Voting for the Charlie Awards is open. Vote for your Twin Cities’ food favorites and purchase tickets to the ceremony on November 17.

* Trending on recent OpenTable restaurant reviews? Brussels sprouts converts.

* Seattle Restaurant Week returns tomorrow. Snap up three courses for $28, October 20-24.

* Silicon Valley Restaurant Week is here. Reserve now for special three-course dinners, October 16-23.

* Delaware Dines Out gets underway on Monday. Book now for $15 lunches and $30 dinners, October 21-27.

* Richmond Restaurant Week starts Monday. Order up $25.13 three-course dinners, October 21-27.

* Long Island Restaurant Week begins November 3. Enjoy three-course dinners for just $27.95 through November 10.

* Mpls.St.Paul Magazine Restaurant Week reservations are open. Book today for $10-$20 lunches and $30 dinners, October 20-25.

Continue reading…

Tweet of the Week: OpenTable Gets a Shout-Out on The CW’s Beauty and the Beast

OpenTable has gotten a few nods in popular culture (Chuck, for one). Diner and Beauty and the Beast watcher Carla M. (aka @misscarla715) tipped us off to the very latest. You can tune in to see it for yourself here (it comes up at the 4:50 mark). Thanks, Carla M. for sending the Tweet of the Week, and thanks to the clever writers of Beauty and the Beast for the name-check!

tweet of week 101813 Tweet of the Week: OpenTable Gets a Shout Out on The CWs Beauty and the Beast

Trending on OpenTable Restaurant Reviews: Brussels Sprout Love!

BSSPQR Trending on OpenTable Restaurant Reviews: Brussels Sprout Love!
Who could resist Brussels sprouts when they’re served in a dish such as this from SPQR?

It’s no secret that Brussels sprouts have become super-popular; however, that popularity doesn’t extend to all eaters. Some folks literally swear they won’t abide them, no matter how tasty the preparation. This is likely because their only experience has been when a well-meaning but culinarily challenged loved one boiled them into mushy, soggy oblivion. Or, perhaps they suffer from lachanophobia specific to Brussels sprouts. Another possibility is genetic. Whatever the case, the good news is that chefs are helping stamp out sprout hate (or fear), dish by delicious dish. The season is just starting for these nutritious vegetables, which are a good source of fiber, manganese, and Vitamins K and C. They are also high in vital phytochemicals, which is typical of  cruciferous vegetables. Find out which restaurants are spreading the love, one plate at a time.

ACQUA, Forest Lake, Minnesota: ”And, you must get the Brussels sprouts, at either location. Even if you don’t like Brussels sprouts, YOU will love these!”

Bluestem Brasserie, San Francisco, California: ”The best part of my entree was the Brussels sprouts, and I don’t even like or ever order them!”

Cafe Trio, Kansas City, Missouri: ”One guest, who is no big fan of Brussels sprouts, was won over by this preparation.”

The Cleveland Restaurant, New York, New York: ”We had the Brussels sprout salad (never thought I would rave about a dish with Brussels sprouts in it). It was delicious!”

* eleven plates & wine, Austin, Texas: “I don’t like Brussels sprouts but was talked into trying them, and they were FABULOUS!”

* Franck’s, Salt Lake City, Utah: “The food is amazing. I hate Brussels sprouts, but they were my favorite thing on their appetizer menu.”

La Luce, Orlando, Florida: ”Food was outstanding! I’m not a brave one for trying new things, but I did here and loved it all — even the Brussels sprouts!”

* Lattitude, West Springfield, Massachusetts: “Everything was delicious! We had crispy Brussels sprouts with a sweet chili sauce and butternut squash bisque for an appetizer. I don’t even like Brussels sprouts, and these were scrumptious!”

Continue reading…

Dining Poll: Pick Your Favorite Pasta!

It’s National Pasta Day! According to the folks at NationalPastaDay.com (this is a real site, and it will make you really hungry, by the by), there are more than 600 shapes of pasta. So, if you’ve ever thought you’ve tried it all, well, probably not. In honor of this auspicious and delicious day, tell us what type of pasta you prefer! Then, book a table to make sure you celebrate with a plate of it today.

State Bird Provisions SF Reservations: An Apology

StateBirdProvisions State Bird Provisions SF Reservations: An Apology
This dish — and other delights — have made State Bird Provisions one of the most coveted reservations in the U.S.

As many Bay Area diners know, after a brief hiatus, State Bird Provisions in San Francisco will reopen in a renovated space this weekend. The wonderfully popular and much-acclaimed restaurant began taking online reservations again on RezBook, which was acquired by OpenTable on July 31 of this year. Unfortunately, the demand for reservations was so great that we were unable to help hungry State Bird Provisions fans easily secure reservations. Further, all restaurants using the RezBook service experienced temporary outages as a result of this. The surge was, in fact, so staggering that traffic to the RezBook servers, which are separate from those of OpenTable, increased by a remarkable 1,000%, and all available State Bird Provisions reservations were claimed in under an hour, a clear testament to Stuart Brioza and Nicole Krasinski and their talented team, who are serving some of the finest and most inventive fare in San Francisco, and, also the nation.

RezBook servers were restored in a little under an hour, thanks to our engineering group, which has been working tirelessly to address the situation. However, we would like to personally extend our deepest apologies, first to Stuart, Nicole, and the entire staff at State Bird Provisions, for not being properly prepared to meet the legions of guests anxious to dine with them in their delightful establishment. We would also like to express our very sincere apologies to State Bird Provisions fans who were let down by the inability to easily and quickly secure a reservation due to the fact that RezBook servers were briefly down. Additionally, we extend our regrets to any of our restaurants using the RezBook service that experienced outages.

This has been an unfortunate and important lesson for all of us at OpenTable, as we continue to work on integrating RezBook into the OpenTable family of products. OpenTable is built around the notion that finding and booking restaurant reservations should be simple and seamless. We very much regret that we fell short of this guiding principle under the profound demand for State Bird Provisions reservations. Rest assured, we are actively analyzing our processes to ensure we deliver the very best possible experience for all of our restaurant partners and diners going forward.

2014 SF Michelin Guide Bib Gourmand Restaurants

Rich Table 2014 SF Michelin Guide Bib Gourmand Restaurants
Rich Table, a Bib Gourmand honoree, is pleasing Bay Area foodies with dishes such as this tagliatelle with beef, black shallots + kale.

In anticipation of this year’s Michelin Guide San Francisco stars, the 2014 San Francisco Bib Gourmand honorees have been named. Michelin’s Bib Gourmands honor restaurants that serve two courses and a glass of wine or dessert for $40 or less (tax and gratuity not included). Most important, they are the restaurants that the Michelin inspectors frequent themselves. While the famous Michelin stars remain the most celebrated international distinction in the MICHELIN Guide, the Bib Gourmand is a highly desired honor among restaurateurs and one that is recognized by the many people who covet quality food at a reasonable price.

In the 2014 edition, 83 Bay Area restaurants, which include a diverse range of 22 cuisine types across the region, including San Francisco, East Bay, Wine Country, Marin, South Bay and the Peninsula, have been designated as Bib Gourmands, including:

A16
Artisan Bistro
Bar Tartine
Bellanico
Bistro 29
Bistro Aix
Bistro Jeanty
Brick & Bottle
Chalkboard
Chapeau
Chevalier
Contigo
Cotogna
Crouching Tiger
Donato Enoteca
DOSA
Evvia
FIVE
flour + water
Fringale
Gajalee Indian
Continue reading…

Hakkasan Beverly Hills Opens: Your Table Awaits!

HKBH Restaurant Image Hakkasan Beverly Hills Opens: Your Table Awaits!The Hakkasan dining experience has arrived in one America’s toniest zip codes.  Hakkasan Beverly Hills recently opened its doors for lunch and dinner, delivering a unique combination of authentic Cantonese cuisine, impeccable service, and opulent ambience.

Michelin-starred chef Ho Chee Boon has created a menu featuring Hakkasan classics, such as roasted silver cod with Champagne and Chinese honey and crispy duck salad, as well as dishes conceived especially for this new location and its clientele. Hakkasan Beverly Hills will also offer a bespoke beverage menu, with an array of Asian-inspired cocktails, wine, and sakes. General Manager Albert Charbonneau notes, “We have a universal standard of excellence across Hakkasan locations, to ensure a premier consistent experience that Hakkasan guests seek. However, Hakkasan also caters to the guests and neighbors within that new location. For this reason, there will be unique approaches blended with signature elements.”

The 10,000 square foot space was conceptualized by renowned Parisian design firm Gilles & Boissier and features an intricate and sultry Shanghai Chinois-inspired aesthetic throughout, translated into contemporary design and infused with the chic style of Beverly Hills. Charbonneau says, “Beverly Hills reflects the glamour and elegance of the Hakkasan brand.”  Continue reading…