Best Restaurant Awards: a circle jerk

At last a breath of fresh air in the overheated kitchen of celebrity chef awards. Marina O’Loughlin writing in the Guardian this morning calls the San Pellegrino Top 50 Restaurants in the Solar System “a magnificent circle jerk.”


In SA we go one better for at least the “impartial” San Pel judges manage to “score reservations at some of the world’s hardest-to-book tables, manage to finance the travel and restaurant bills themselves” and even eat some of that foam, jus and nems. In SA, Tim James just asks his contacts for their best winery, dessert wine etc. so who knows if the winning wines were ever even tasted. And if so, probably not blind. Some of the Cape’s cult cuvées are rarer than rocking horse droppings and even woodier.

Tim used to even ask me for my hit list. But after I declined, he no longer bothers. Besides, we run our own RECM weekly blind tastings to answer this kind of question in a slightly more impartial way.

Marina’s conclusion applies to these best of wine lists in spades. “But for the normal [wine drinker], these hyperbolic junkets just feed the fear of missing out and raise expectations – look, Mum, I’m in the best [winery] in [SA] – that are forever destined to be dashed.”