> If you’d prefer to search for restaurants by cuisine or name, choose your city from GAYOT’s Dining Guide.
What decides the rating of a restaurant?
What is on the plate is by far the most important factor. The quality of produce is among the most telling signs of a restaurant’s culinary status. It requires a great deal of commitment and money to stock the finest grades and cuts of meat and the finest quality of fish. Ask any sushi chef if there’s a difference in tuna, and with the flash of his knife he will tell you there certainly is. One extra-virgin olive oil is not the same as another. Ditto for chocolates, pastas, spices and one thousand other ingredients. Quality restaurants also attune themselves to seasonal produce, whether it is local berries or truffles from France. Freshness is all-important, too, and a telling indication of quality. This means not only using fresh rather than frozen fish, for example, but also preparing everything from scratch at the last possible moment, from appetizers through desserts.
What else do we look for in rating restaurants?
Details are telling: If sauces are homogeneous, you know that the kitchen is taking shortcuts. The bread on the table is always a tip-off; similarly, the house wine can speak volumes about the culinary attitude and level of an establishment. Wine complements food, and wine lists and offerings can be revelatory. A list doesn’t have to be long or expensive to show a commitment to quality.
Finally, among the very finest restaurants, creativity and innovation are often determining factors.
These qualities, however, are relatively unimportant for simple, good restaurants, where the quality and consistency of what appears on the plates is the central factor. A restaurant that serves grilled chicken well is to be admired more than a restaurant that attempts some failed marriage of chicken and exotic produce, or some complicated chicken preparation that requires a larger and more talented kitchen brigade than is on hand. Don’t be taken in by attempted fireworks that are really feeble sideshows.