So maybe you didn’t win a RAMMY. Maybe you were a glaring oversight on Washingtonian magazine’s “Best of…” List this year. Maybe you failed to get a mention in the Washington City Paper’s 2008 Best of DC issue.
Fear not! Between now and Friday, you can still rally your friends and supporters (much like the Monocle did to win the RAMMY for Best Restaurant) to vote for you in AOL’s City’s Best polls – or at least you can if you managed to catch the eye of AOL’s editorial team who selected nominees in 19 ‘Best Dining’ categories and 11 ‘Best Nightlife’ categories.
As you may have already guessed, this doesn’t strike me as a great way to find the best of anything, and the selections that the editorial team put forward leave more than a bit to be desired. Since those of us who have actually eaten and drunk in these places didn’t get a say in which establishments made the ballot, you can bet there are more than a few clunkers.
Even so, the restaurants and bars that win these awards will surely be trumpeting the ‘accomplishment’ in the form of plaques and press releases, drawing in unsuspecting tourists and newcomers. So if you care enough to spend 10 minutes each day between now and Thursday, you’ll have a few chances to nudge the results toward the best of what they’ve given us to work with.
A few categories that could use some knowledgable input after the jump.
Best Fine Dining
Apparently AOL’s editors believe that fine dining still means white gloves and Escoffier-style service. How else do you account for the fact that seven of the ten nominees have Bistro(t), Chez or Le in their names? Oh, and the other three: Marcel’s, Gerard’s Place, and Montmartre – not exactly significant departures. What makes it even more amusing is the fact that one of the nominees is Bistrot du Coin. Don’t get me wrong, I love BDC for everything it has to offer – but I would have a really hard time using the term ‘fine dining’ to describe their steak frites.
A no-brainer, right? In this city of power lunches and fundraising dinners, surely the names we’ve heard time and again would stand a significant advantage: the District Chop House, the Prime Rib, the Palm, Capital Grille. If not, then it’s got to be a win for local favorite Michael Landrum’s Ray’s the Steaks! Hmmm…not that either? Well it can’t be Jimmy’s on K Street – they’ve been closed for more than a year (even their successor, Restaurant K, has closed!), so it’s hard to see how they can be in the running for a 2008 City’s Best award. Big surprise – AOL voters are flocking to Ruth’s Chris as the best steakhouse in DC.
Best Nightlife – Beer
I have to wonder how many of the people who are making the Brickskeller the runaway favorite in this category have been there recently. There are just too many other bars and restaurants that are taking beer seriously these days to declare the Brickskeller the be all and end all of the DC beer scene. With the Capitol City Brewing Company as its only real competitor at this point in the contest, this looks more like a Best of 1998 contest than a snapshot of our current beer culture. Where are the new places boasting dozens of Belgian beers and the appropriate glasses to pour them into? And why isn’t Birreria Paradiso doing better than 5%?
Best Date Spot
All I can say is that if these ten choices represent the best of the DC dating scene, we’re in big trouble.
Were it not for the fact that AOL has a significant presence so near to Washington, I might be inclined to cut them some slack. I don’t expect their editors to be aware of each and every restaurant and bar in far-flung cities, but it would be nice if they could take the time to follow 66 into DC every now and again to see what dining and drinking in Washington are really about these days.
So take a look at the nominees, cast a few votes, and come back to let us know who you’re pulling for. We’ve definitely got our favorites in most of these categories, but the majority of them didn’t even make the list. Maybe that’s a good thing?