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Some Observations on Responses to the "Desert Island" Game

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Some Observations on Responses to the "Desert Island" Game

Tom Armitage | Feb 1, 2002 09:26 PM

Here are some generalizations I glean from the responses so far to Thi’s “Desert Island” post:

1. There isn’t much agreement among the L.A. Hounds who responded. When I last checked, a couple of places, Zankou and In n’ Out, had received three mentions. A handful got two mentions (Langer's, Campanile, Guelaguetza). But most places only received one single, solitary mention with no repetition on other lists. I’m not quite sure what conclusion to draw from this. Does it provide fuel for the argument that Los Angeles has a lot of good restaurants (various of which made it on to various individual lists), but few truly “great” restaurants that command almost universal acclaim? Or does it merely suggest, as I discuss in paragraph 2 below, that the variety of factors influencing people’s choices, and the individualistic nature of the weight placed on each of those factors, makes greater uniformity unlikely? Langer's (pastrami sandwich), In n’ Out (burger) and, to a lesser extent, Zankou (rotisserie chicken) are more or less solo performances. Perhaps that makes it easier to single them out than, say, one among the many good Thai restaurants, each of which has a handful of outstanding dishes on its menu. (Another interesting “game” might be to pick the ideal Thai menu from among all the Thai restaurants in the Los Angeles area. The wild boar curry from the Palms, for instance, would be a slam-dunk.)

2. Food quality often isn’t the principal or dominant factor in whether a restaurant makes a list. How the place “feels,” how the restaurant’s staff interacts with the customer, loyalty, tradition, and general ambience often seem to be of equal, if not greater, importance than food quality.

3. Lots of Italian, Mexican, Japanese (primarily sushi), and Chinese restaurants got mentioned. By comparison, very few French, Thai, Vietnamese, Malaysian, or Indian restaurants got mentioned. I don’t remember any Korean, Indonesian, Middle Eastern, Central American, or South American restaurants that were mentioned.

4. I was surprised that, of the high-end places, neither Melisse nor Aubergine got mentioned. I think they are the two best high-end restaurants in the area at the moment. (I'm aware of the many who disagree with me on this, particularly regarding Melisse, and will defend my position in a separate post. I'm only commenting here on the fact that neither got ANY mention.) Patina, Valentino, Campanile, Josie, and the Water Grill got mentioned. Overall, there were very few high-end places on the lists. It wasn’t clear whether, on the desert island, we’d still have to pay for our meals. If so, and assuming our incomes on the island wouldn’t drastically increase, I can understand the limited number of high-end places.

5. In n' Out gets three mentions, and neither Pie n' Burger nor Cassell's get ANY mentions? Huh?

6. Fred 62??? On the desert island from hell maybe!

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