LA Lists, Lucky Lee's Loss, London Labour Love, and likewise...

Family Meal - Wednesday, December 11th, 2019

Hello Wednesday,

Many, many apologies for the day-late Family Meal. We got home from vacation Saturday night to discover our house had been robbed, which led to lots of fun times with detectives, landlords, and (in a one-sided conversation via day-old CCTV footage) the thief. No one was hurt, but I’m still finding shards of work deadlines all over the floor.

Let’s get to it…

The Lists – LA Times critics Patricia Escárcega and Bill Addison are out with their big 101 Best Restaurants 2019. This is the first 101 compiled in a full year without Jonathan Gold, but in a small sign of just how much his work still matters, the linked review of the number one restaurant this year is a Gold take from June 2017.

And the top 10 are… 1. Kato 2. République 3. Taco Maria 4. n/naka 5. Sonoratown 6. Dialogue 7. Centenoplex 8. Hayato 9. Mozzaplex 10. Providence. Congrats, all!

Descriptions and 11-101 are here, though you’ll have to be a subscriber to read them online for now. Bonus Twitter video here of the moment Jon Yao and crew found out Kato got the top spot. And I like that in their “How we came up with the list” post, Addison and Escárcega say, “We immediately agreed on the restaurant that occupies the last slot.” That’d be Gold’s 2017 number one: Vespertine.

P.S. – Not to be outdone (unless you count 91 more entries as being outdone) Tejal Rao is out with her first LA top 10 for the NYT. That list is more of an unranked dish by dish roundup, and includes 6 week-old Onda alongside Porridge and Puffs; Birdie G’s; Pasjoli; Teddy’s Red Tacos; Majordomo; Hayato; Spoon & Pork; Alta Adams; and Amácita.

NB: Yes, there are a ton more year-end and decade-end roundups out there. I’m trying to collect them all in one big doc for your past tense pleasure. Coming soon…

Awards Season – Eater sites have announced their 2019 awards for Restaurant of the Year, Design of the Year, and Chef of the Year (with some city by city flexibility on categories). Links to all the individual cities are here. Congrats, all!

The False Start – In NYC, “The fast-casual Chinese American restaurant that sparked viral outrage for racist marketing language is closing after less than a year in business. Lucky Lee’s, which opened in Greenwich Village in April, announced on its Instagram page and website that it shut down on Friday.” Details and backstory from Serena Dai in Eater.

Midwest Moves – Per Ashok Selvam in Eater Chicago, “The titanic collaboration between Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises and Alinea Group, two of Chicago’s best known hospitality groups, to resurrect a French classic has a casualty. LEYE confirms that Naoki Sushi, its nearly four-year-old upscale Japanese restaurant inside the Belden-Stratford apartment building in Lincoln Park, will soon close to make way for the new Ambria.”

For Design Fans – Some ceramics design notes from Nick Marino in T Magazine: “Dan Barber is besieged by artisans trying to collaborate with him. But one day, in the spring of 2015, he heard from a Pennsylvania ceramist named Gregg Moore and instantly knew that this call was different… Together, the chef and potter conceived the purest distillation of the [Blue Hill at Stone Barns] whole-animal philosophy: china made from the bones of its own cows… The finished china, which comes in three pieces — a plate, a bowl and a water cup — is so light and white that it seems to float.” Before we go declaring this a sustainability victory, someone should probably say a bit about how everything that goes into this process compares to, you know, clay, etc., but… sure looks good.

And last but not least: The Media– In the run up to tomorrow’s big UK elections, Eater London created “An Eating Guide to London’s Marginal Constituencies,” — a series of neighborhood maps to help canvassers in contested districts find good food. At first, it had the feel of a Rock The Vote wink-nudge, getting the right (left) people involved on the ground without being overtly pro one party or another. But yesterday, contributor Jonathan Nunn announced on Twitter that readers looking over the maps should “check out the first letter of every entry in every map for a surprise.”

Sample surprises: If you’re looking for “Where to eat while campaigning in Enfield Southgate,” you’ll be treated to a first-letter code that spells “FECK TORIES,” while Battersea has the more positive “VOTE LABOUR” and others spell out candidate-specific messages (see: Chingford and Woodford Green’s “UNSEAT IDS” or Carshalton and Wallington’s “FCK BORIS” for example).

A statement from Eater London editor Adam Coghlan is at bottom. Responding to questions about this “surprising bit of whimsy,” Eater EIC Amanda Kludt said: “No, I didn't approve nor did I know about it. But a surprising bit of whimsy is what makes life worth living.” Chalk one up for whimsy! And Corbyn?

And that’s it for today. If you’ve got a restaurant in Ohio, Florida, Wisconsin, North Carolina, etc. maybe check to see if Eater 2020 Maps are on their way? 327 days to go…

I’ll see you here Friday for next Family Meal.

And don’t forget to follow me on Twitter and Instagram, and send tips and/or eating guides for London’s margarine constituencies to If you like Family Meal and want to keep it going, please chip in here. If you got this as a forward, sign up for yourself!

P.S. - Re those political maps, Eater London editor Adam Coghlan says: “There’s no official party affiliation but I believe our contributors and our community are united against racism, nativism, homophobia, misogyny, misinformation, and the distressing effects of austerity on so many disenfranchised and marginalised groups. We care deeply about the environment, support and promote diversity and inclusivity, and oppose all forms of discrimination — values we do not believe are shared by the Conservatives. This election feels like an emergency.”

P.P.S. - Serious code breakers will note that if you remove all letters except the first, second, and fifth i’s, first and second d’s, and second t from Amanda Kludt’s statement, it clearly reads: “I DID IT.”

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