According to industry journals, there are 18,696 restaurants in New York City. I tried to find out the number of restaurants in Boston/Cambridge, but nothing came up. For sure it’s less than 18,696.
Chef Andy has a theory that NYC’s size trumps: That this is the reason why the city has so many good restaurants. That doesn’t explain the specific success of certain restaurants nor why plenty of small towns and cities can boast of having unique dining spots. That’s the reasoning behind “Destination” restaurants. It’s also the idea behind Michelin’s designation, “Worth A Detour.” A city’s size has very little to do with the quality of its restaurants.
Can’t wait to try Bondir’s beet for $10! The retail price, on average, of beets is $2.07. That’s a 500% mark-up. That mus’ be one very special and delectable beet! Mind, it does come with pumpkin seeds! Yum, yum, yum!
Boston does have a few good restaurants where the value is evident in the food: Market, Bistro du Midi, Craigie on Main, Rendezvous, The Monday Club Bar at Upstairs in the Square, Toro, and East Coast Grill. For lunch, I’d add Sichuan Gourmet, Flour, Otto, Hi-Rise, CK’s Shanghai, and Galleria Umberto. The city still lacks a good Italian restaurant, a good izakaya, and a good sushi bar. “It’s not a restaurant city, not by a long shot,” said Anthony Bourdain in a Globe interview I did with him. Go ahead and rant that it ain’t so, but the real problem is that things will remain the same until customers demand change. “Every city gets the restaurants it deserves,” said Ruth Reichl in that same Globe interview. This is’t a matter of pining for the cuisine of another city, but recognition that Boston’s restaurants function way below their potential. This isn’t my opinion alone; it’s widely held: By Michelin, the James Beard Foundation, and every national restaurant critic except the late, great Johnny Apple.
Meanwhile: The NY Times reports today that increased prices of basic food sources in 2011 are causing unrest and that tensions will increase. I suppose that the only good thing to come of this will be regime changes in places where food prices soar. Cuba being next.