Announcing the 100 Best Restaurants for Foodies in America 2016 #OpenTable100

As locals and travelers continue to explore cities through their dining cultures this fall, we are pleased to unveil the 100 Best Restaurants for Foodies in America 2016. These awards reflect the combined opinions of more than 5 million restaurant reviews submitted by verified OpenTable diners for more than 20,000 restaurants in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

Best Restaurants for Foodies in America 2016

Highlighting oft-lauded fine dining and fine casual dining restaurants in well-known and emerging food cities, the complete list features restaurants in 30 states and the District of Columbia and includes Acquerello in San Francisco, Boka in Chicago, and Zahav in Philadelphia. California has 17 winning restaurants, followed by New York with nine, Pennsylvania with eight, Virginia with six, and Illinois and New Jersey with five each. North Carolina and Texas each have four honorees, while Colorado, Florida, Louisiana, and Washington, D.C. have three each. Arizona, Connecticut, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Maryland, Missouri, Ohio, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Washington state all have two eateries. Alabama, Georgia, Kansas, Maine, Minnesota, New Mexico, Nevada, and Rhode Island are also represented.

Established restaurants have a strong presence on the list, although newcomers, such as Gabriel Kreuther in New York and Shaya in New Orleans, are sprinkled throughout. The most popular cuisine is American by far; however, French and Italian fares are also prevalent. Other cuisines include Asian, Hawaiian, Israeli, and Persian.

Check out a slideshow of select winners of our awards for the 100 Most Scenic Restaurants in America 2016 below.

 

The 100 Best Restaurants for Foodies in America list is generated from more than 5 million restaurant reviews submitted by verified OpenTable diners between August 1, 2015, and July 31, 2016. All restaurants with a minimum “overall” score and number of qualifying reviews were included for consideration. Qualifying restaurants were then scored and sorted according to the percentage of qualifying reviews for which “fit for foodies” was selected as a special feature.

Based on this methodology, the following restaurants, listed in alphabetical order, comprise the 100 Best Restaurants for Foodies in America 2016 according to OpenTable diners:Continue Reading

Talking at the Pass: Chefs Charlie Palmer and Bryan Voltaggio

Our Talking at the Pass series, in which mentors and their successful disciples reunite to chat about their time together and what they learned from each other, continues.

This latest installment features chefs Charlie Palmer and Bryan Voltaggio. Palmer is a two-time James Beard Award winner, who helms New York City’s Aureole, Harvest Table in Napa Valley, and many more. His protégé-turned-powerhouse Voltaggio is a breakout star on Top Chef and chef of Frederick, Maryland’s VOLT, Range in Washington, D.C., and several other concepts.

Charlie Palmer and Bryan Voltaggio

Bryan, how did you begin working for Charlie?

Bryan Voltaggio: I began as an extern at Aureole in 1997 while I was attending the C.I.A. up in Hyde Park, New York. An instructor told me, “There’s one chef whose kitchen you need to be in – Charlie Palmer’s.” So I went down to New York City week after week. I would be in the corner of the kitchen next to the convection oven – next to where you would make your cappuccino, Charlie – cleaning chanterelles or whatever needed doing. After three weeks, Charlie came over and asked, “So, you want to work here?” I don’t know what came out of my mouth. I mumbled something. I was scared out of my mind. Upon my graduation in 1999, Charlie offered me a job there. That was the start of my career.

Charlie, what made Bryan stand out?

Charlie Palmer: I tell my sons this, “If you really want something – you gotta put yourself out there. You gotta show up. You gotta show people that this is really where you want to be.” If someone is persistent, really wants to work with us, wants to be on our team, show ups, and demonstrates that – that means a lot to me. We had a lot of young students who came down from the C.I.A. When we do a stage like that, it’s really more for them to see what they’re getting into. You’re not going to be able to tell much about them because they’re in the kitchen three nights a week just cleaning chanterelles or doing other menial work. What you can tell about them is whether they have a desire to be there and really be a great cook. How do they dress? Are their knives sharp? Do they have the right equipment with them?

How did your preconception of Charlie live up to the man who you went to work for?

BV: I was scared to go to New York City. I was 20-year-old farm boy from Frederick, Maryland. Before culinary school, I had been working at the kitchen of the local Holiday Inn. To then be in a kitchen like Aureole’s with a man like Charlie was overwhelming in some aspects. But I also knew when I walked in that this was the place I wanted to be and why I committed to culinary school. It is why I stopped pursuing a career making pretty good money at a rinky-dink hotel. I wanted to be better than that and be in the best places I could be. At Aureole, I felt I was surrounded by professionals who cared about their craft. Charlie was a part of service and in there every night. I remember thinking, “Wow. I read about this guy in Food Arts magazine. Now I’m seeing him actually cook.”

Do you remember the first dish Bryan put up that really impressed you?

CP: A lot of that happened when Bryan took over the kitchen at Charlie Palmer Steak in D.C. Once you’re in charge, you become accountable. There has to be a tremendous amount of passion. I can’t give chefs the menus and tell them what they’re going to cook. That doesn’t work for us. The thing is, Bryan wasn’t just driving that restaurant but what we were doing as a restaurant group as a whole. Some chefs are followers and some are leaders. Bryan was leading the charge.

What was the biggest lesson you learned from Charlie?

BV: I will never forget running across Park Avenue and dodging cabs because we were going to get an ingredient we didn’t have for a guest – no matter what. That’s hospitality. We always say “yes” to our guests.

Charlie, was it difficult for you when Bryan left to open VOLT in 2008?

CP: It was hard for me. It was like having a brother leave. Let me get one thing straight. Bryan says he worked for me. Bryan didn’t work for me; Bryan worked with me. There’s nothing that makes me more proud than Bryan going out and having success with his own business.Continue Reading

9 Milk and Cookies Desserts: A Childhood Classic Reborn

Growing up, milk and cookies were one of our favorite treats. We loved dunking the warm rounds into a glass of cold milk and then nibbling away at the softened edges. It was always a joy to hit a mother lode of melted chocolate chips or crunch into a pecan like we had discovered treasure. Luckily, we haven’t had to give up this simple pleasure just because we’re older and, debatably, wiser because chefs are reviving the childhood classic. Here are 9 milk and cookies desserts to make you feel like a kid again.

David Burke Kitchen, New York, New York
If you’re in the mood for dessert and a drink, order the cookie plate. A seasonal selection arrives with rum-spiked coconut milk. Don’t worry, kiddies, they’re happy to leave out the hooch, so you can enjoy it as well. Make a reservation at David Burke Kitchen.

milk and cookies desserts

Cavatina, Los Angeles, California
Fresh-from-the-oven cookies spotted with sweet squares of chocolate get a dusting of sea salt. The finishing touch helps amplify the chocolate’s deeper flavors while taking the edge off the sugar rush. To help wash down the treats, they arrive with a petite pitcher of cold milk. Make a reservation at Cavatina.

Milk and cookies desserts

Summer House Santa Monica, Chicago, Illinois
Cookies and milk – now in milkshake form. Pastry chef Erin Mooney liquidates the traditional dessert by blending together vanilla bean ice cream with malted chocolate chip cookies and chocolate fudge sauce. The finished product requires a straw, a spoon, and a sweet tooth. Make a reservation at Summer House Santa Monica.

milk and cookies desserts

Untitled, New York, New York
Spotted with gooey chunks of dark, milk, and white chocolate, this hefty cookie has a crispy exterior that crunches when you bite into it. Believe it or not, this toothsome treat is gluten-free as it’s made with Thomas Keller’s Cup4Cup GF flour. It arrives with a sidecar of whole milk from Five Acre Farms. Make a reservation at Untitled.

milk and cookies desserts

Macon Bistro & Larder, Washington, D.C.
Our new favorite phrase is “bourbon milk.” A small bottle of the bliss-inducing beverage comes with a pair of straws and two cookies so you can share the dessert with your date. Or, you can hog the whole thing for yourself and pretty much guarantee the two of you won’t be going out ever again. Make a reservation at Macon Bistro & Larder.

milk and cookies desserts

Harvest Table, St. Helena, California
Whenever we’re fortunate enough to have a root beer float, it reminds us of the sweltering summer days of our childhood. Pastry chef Andrew DiClementi brings those memories rushing back with his version made with sweet cream ice cream and Boylan root beer, which comes with chocolate chip and snickerdoodle cookies. Each mouthful makes us feel like we’re nine years old all over again. Make a reservation at Harvest Table.

milk and cookies dessertsContinue Reading

You Got (Dis)Served: 7 Signs You’re Receiving Bad Restaurant Service #hackdining

Signs you're receiving bad restaurant service

Alton Brown once said, “Good service can save a bad meal, but there is no level of food that can save bad service.” Oftentimes the errors can be glaring, but sometimes the slights to the guest are more subtle. So what are the signs you’re receiving bad restaurant service?

To find out, we spoke to front-of-house all-star William Washington. A managing partner at Farmers Fishers Bakers in Washington, D.C., he’s a veteran of The Source by Wolfgang Puck, Blue Duck Tavern, and the Inn at Little Washington. He clued us into seven common service slip-ups that can turn what should have been a great meal into an unforgettable disaster.

You’re not seated at the time of your reservation.

“After five minutes of waiting for your table, it’s okay to check in with the host to make sure you’re on their radar, but this doesn’t mean you should be complaining. If they’re 15 minutes behind schedule, it’s more than reasonable to ask for a manager. They should do something for you at that point – at the very least an apology, but maybe a drink, too. At 30 minutes you have a right to be infuriated and the restaurant should definitely do something for you.”

A staff member doesn’t acknowledge you when you’re seated.

“Someone should greet you within two to three minutes of you arriving at your table. Within five minutes, you should have a server getting your drink order and addressing any issues with the table or the experience. You don’t have the right to ask them to change the music necessarily, but if it’s a hot summer night and you’re sweating, you can ask them to check to see if air conditioning is working.”

You don’t have a drink in hand within 10 minutes.

“And it should only take that long for craft cocktails. Also, the sommelier should visit the table while you still have the wine list open – not after you’ve ordered.”

You’re not noshing on appetizers within 15 minutes.

“Unless it’s something convoluted. In that case, a server should tell you up front, ‘The shrimp soufflé takes extra time, so please be aware.’ If you only order mains, they should be to you within 20 minutes.”Continue Reading