Food + Drink, What's New in Sonoma County

Is the French Laundry Still Among the World’s Best?

One famed wine country restaurant drops off the list, while a San Francisco establishment is the only California restaurant featured in the top 50.

The World’s 50 Best Restaurants, one of the most influential and anticipated annual restaurant rankings, was announced Monday in New York. One of the more notable surprises was the absence, among the top 50, of Thomas Keller’s famed The French Laundry. 

Commonly referred to as “the List,” the World’s 50 Best Restaurants has come to dominate the fine dining conversation, even eclipsing the Michelin Guide, during its 14 year run. This year’s list announcement was noteworthy also in that it is the first time since the inception of the awards that the event took place outside London — a move “intended to highlight haute cuisine’s increasingly global and decreasingly Eurocentric focus.”

Despite its name, the World’s 50 Best Restaurants includes 100 restaurants. While being in the back 50 section of the list is nothing to sneeze at — it is nonetheless the first time that both of Thomas Keller’s restaurants have fallen out of the top 50: Napa’s The French Laundry dropping to number 85 from its number 50 spot; his New York establishment, Per Se, coming in at number 52. (The French Laundry was listed at number one on both the 2003 and 2004 lists.)

osteria4
Osteria Francescana became the first Italian restaurant to reach No. 1 on the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list.

San Francisco’s Saison, well known for chef Joshua Skenes’ nightly-changing tasting menu, was the only California restaurant featured in the top 50, claiming the 27 spot. Meanwhile, San Francisco’s Coi, the minimalist foodie mecca, fell off the list entirely. And for the lucky three topping this year’s list: last year’s top two winners exchanged places: Osteria Francescana is the first Italian restaurant to reach No. 1, while El Celler de Can Roca, in Catalonia, Spain, dropped to No. 2. Eleven Madison Park in Manhattan assumed the No. 3 place, up from its last year’s No. 5 rating.

A complete list of winners is available on the organization’s website.

Saison restaurant in San Francisco was named No. 27 on this year's Restaurant magazine World's 50 Best Restaurants list. (Saison)
Saison restaurant in San Francisco was named No. 27 on this year’s Restaurant magazine World’s 50 Best Restaurants list.
El Celler
El Celler de Can Roca, in Catalonia, Spain, placed second on this year’s World’s 50 Best Restaurants. (down from No. 1)
Eleven Madison Park in New York placed third at this year’s World’s 50 Best Restaurants.
Eleven Madison Park in New York placed third at this year’s World’s 50 Best Restaurants.

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8 thoughts on “Is the French Laundry Still Among the World’s Best?

  1. The foodie movement is bizarre. To be thrilled with the dish shown at the start of this article is participating in a status seeking mind game. I really love food and eating, but paying crazy prices for tiny portions of strange concoctions served by overly serious waiters, is simply a game. I put it on par with paying sky high prices for odd couture, otherwise known as clothing. I put it on par with gambling. It is just throwing money away. If that’s what you want to do with your hard earned dollars, go ahead. Just don’t act like it is “important” as the art world loves to say. No tears here for those dropping in “the list”.

    1. Could not put it any more succinctly than “herthoughts” just did. Add the increasingly obscene and totally unjustifiable prices of wines in even the “modest” bistros around Sonoma and Napa counties and you come up with an unsustainable business model. Once the economy tanks again, watch the vacancy signs pop up in lots of restaurants and tasting room windows.

    2. I agree.
      And Bart Simpson made a point about
      where the food ends up by the next day.
      (In the toilet.)

      flush.

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