In this past weekend's New York Times Magazine, outgoing restaurant critic Sam Sifton announced that he is going to name the "best restaurant in New York" on his final review on October 12 (almost exactly two years after he ran his first review). Many have assumed it will be Thomas Keller's Per Se. It's already known as one of the best restaurants in New York, it hasn't been reviewed since Bruni started the job in 2004, there's a new chef in the kitchen since Jonathan Benno left to helm Lincoln, Sifton has most definitely dined there recently, and it would be a classy way to say farewell to the gig.
But not everyone is convinced. Below, we've compiled a list of the top contenders for the review, making a case for each. Of course, he could always just give Per Se the fourspot this week and award one to Sammy Roumanian or similar and declare that "the best."
The Case: See above.
Odds: 3 - 1
The Case: Le Bern hasn't been reviewed in six and a half years. The restaurant deserves it surely, and the review would be timely given the recent makeover. Sifton would have had to have dined at the restaurant before the August hiatus and then again in September, not a crazy thought given he didn't know about his promotion until the end of the summer. Eric Ripert says the critic hasn't been in, but the French chef is cagier than he appears.
Odds: 5 - 1
The Case: Re-confirming the Jean Georges four spot would be a slight curve ball, but it hasn't been reviewed in five years, and it's the most affordable of the four star club. It's also a favorite lunch spot and, this is a guess but it could be the four star most frequented by actual New Yorkers dining normally.
Odds: 10 - 1
The Case: Word on the street is Didier Elena is doing incredible things at Alain Ducasse's Adour and that the restaurant now completely surpasses its 3 star 2008 iteration. An additional bonus of this is no one would see it coming.
Odds 700 - 1
The Case: Babbo is pretty fantastic and about as quintessential New York as you can get. Fine dining with a side of rock 'n' roll—how can Sifton resist? Perhaps it's not a four star, but who said the review had to be one?
Odds: 1,000 - 1
Blue Hill Stone Barns:
The Case: Blue Hill Stone Barns fans have been arguing for its promotion for years. Why it could come now? Sifton would love the food politics angle, he would have a fun time describing that scene, and Dan Barber has upped his game significantly in the last year. Plus, Sifton would enjoy the irony of the best restaurant in New York sitting just outside the city.
Odds: 800 - 1
Some outer borough restaurant no one has ever heard of:
The Case: A total Sifton move. Our bet: Salt & Fat in Queens.
Other Contenders that have been floated to Eater: Eleven Madison Park and Daniel (both reviewed relatively recently), Marea (re-review, upgrade), Sho Shaun Hergatt ("I was wrong!"), Grand Central Oyster Bar (seems Sifton-esque, also seafood), and Scarpetta.
· Will Sam Sifton Call Per Se the Best Restaurant in NYC? [~ENY~]