The Best Restaurants issue of Baltimore Magazine has hit the shelves and as usual, I was very interested to see who was featured. For the most part, I think it's a good group of restaurants - I can't think of anyplace that's left out - and I like the format, which groups and ranks restaurants within a few categories. As the article explains, this way, they don't have to try to compare Woodberry Kitchen with Charleston to figure out which one is better. Makes sense.
I do have a few issues, though, with the rankings themselves. I know everybody has their own opinions and restaurants are a pretty subjective subject...but I think I'm right on a two matters:
1. There is just no way that Dogwood should be ranked below Blue Hill Tavern. Yes, I realize that we've spent so much time at Dogwood that we've lost all hope of objectivity. I also realize that most of my meals at Dogwood are part of the wine club, which is off the regular menu. And I also realize I've only been to Blue Hill Tavern once. However, the food at Dogwood is consistently good and our meal at Blue Hill was probably worse than I even let on in my review. Plus, after writing that review, a lot of people told me they'd had the same experience we had - cool place, great apps, mediocre entrees. I'd really switch those rankings.
2. Trattoria Alberto. Here's the thing: I reviewed that restaurant for last year's Best Restaurants issue and it was simply amazing. Yes, it's in a strip mall in Glen Burnie and no, it's not really a "scene" but the food is so, so good (and so is the service). It's ranked #3. On the flip side, Cinghiale. It took the #1 spot in the "Italian" category and...I don't know. We went there last May and while I love the space, and our meal was good, it just cost too much. I can't help but compare it to Trattoria Alberto - yes, Cinghiale is a cooler looking restaurant and it's certainly a better date spot, but the food is just not as good as it is at that little storefront in the Burnie.
Sotto Sopra is in between those two and it's been a while since I've just had a regular meal there, so I don't feel like I can comment. But I'm just not sure about how those rankings hold up. They're all very different dining experiences...but I know that when I walked away from Trattoria Alberto, I felt a lot more elated than I did walking away from Cinghiale.
But again, everybody's got their own taste. I suppose I value the food more highly than the space or location, and maybe not everyone does. Overall, though, it's a good collection of lists. And if nothing else, it gives us something to debate.