I, like a lot of other people on this board, get the weekly Morsel's e-mail from Chicago Magazine. We all got the teaser about Chicago Mag's forthcoming top 20 restaurants. We were promised a suprise at number 1.
I am forever an optimist and an idealist. I really, honestly, entertained thoughts that number 1 would be something like Gene and Jude's or Al's Italian Beef or Hugo's Frog Bar, something enterily simple yet so able at what they do, that Chicago Mag decided to make it number one for the year. Hah! The suprise is that number one is Everest instead of any of the Tra's (Trio, Trotter or Tru). Oh how wrong I could be.
Yet, before I got to the list, I was mightily surprised. Who gets a wonderful plug in the issue, but Chowhound's own master of the improv, Seth Zurer. Chicago Mag gives him some well deserved props for his chow inspired, political show, The Mayor's Mouth. The good.
The bad: I am sure that every restaurant in Chicago's top 20 is absolutely faaaaaaaabulous, but does every place in the top 20 really need to be ab fab? Regardless of how silly my belief that number one could be something unique, the list included NOTHING unique. Should the top 20 restaurants not necessarily be the best places in every facet of dining? Do not some places offer tastes and experiences that are so special and so delicious that the level of service and range of decor hardly matter? Would any of our top 20 look like Chicago Mag's?
And you know what is really ugly? Having gotten my ire up over the dining awards, I started poking around the restaurant listings in the back. This is really ugly. This is the eating RST fears. The safe choices paraded again and again at the expense of hundreds of more interesting places around town. Do you realize that one, one place from Chinatown gets included. And that one place is the hoary, dated, Emperor's Choice. Greek, how many people really consider LEY's Papagus better than anyplace in Greektown except Santorini. Not a single Mexican place beyond the safe Bayless and Bayless-esque. Katsu is off the Japanese list, the Korean is equally thin and guess how many Argyle spots make the listings. Don't get me going on the Thai, the Indian (what about Pakistani guys)...