Best of…

Volume 7, Issue 78; 08 May 2004; last modified 08 Oct 2010

Best of lists are arguably incomplete…I assert that any list of the best restaurants in the world that doesn’t include Craig & Sally’s is demonstrably incomplete.

Best of lists are arguably incomplete. First off, no matter how high you set the bar, the odds that you’ll get a reasonable number entries as a result are pretty small. Consider restaurants. Let’s say there are four million restaurants in the world. That’s maybe not the most conservative estimate, but it doesn’t seem unreasonable (there are apparently some 878,000 in the United States alone). Anyway, for the moment let’s say that’s not a bad estimate. Now let’s say that the “best of” restaurants are those in the top one percent of the top one percent. I think that’s setting the bar pretty high. Still, that makes the best of a list of at least 400. That’s a lot of restaurants.

Beyond the pure mathematics of the exercise, we have temporal problems (Yesterday’s best restaurant may be tomorrow’s mediocre brasserie if the chef moves on or the owner changes.)

Also temporal in nature is the fact that restaurants, and people, can have good nights and bad nights. Professional food critics probably visit a restaurant several times to average things out. We don’t. So if we catch the chef on a bad night, well, that’s just the way the cookie crumbles. Conversely, your experience may not be as good as ours if we hit the chef on a “home run” night. Clearly, the answer is to eat in more good restaurants more often.

And if all of that weren’t enough, there are the vagaries of personal taste to contend with. I like my steak rare, flame grilled if possible, with no heavy sauces on it. If that’s not your style, we may like different restaurants.

Looking at this problem from another angle, I assert that any list of the best restaurants in the world that doesn’t include Craig & Sally’s, in Frenchtown, St. Thomas, is demonstrably incomplete. This, I admit, is a somewhat vacuous argument as my proof that it’s demonstrably incomplete will be simply to demonstrate that it doesn’t include Craig & Sally’s.

Also on my personal list of best restaurants: L'Enoteca Pinchiorri in Florence, Italy and La Bastide St Antoine in Grasse, France. Somewhat closer to home, Sienna in Deerfield, Massachusetts and Del Raye Bar & Grill in Northampton where Deb and I are almost regulars. Or at least we like to think so. Bub’s Barbeque in Sunderland and the Jo Jo’s hot dog stand outside Home Depot in West Springfield rate pretty highly too.

I’m not sure what my point was when I started this essay, except maybe that I was (a) hungry and (b) going back to Craig & Sally’s tonight for the second time this week.

What do you think are the best restaurants in the world (by personal experience)?


I couldn't agree more. My wife & I started going to St. Thomas for vacation in May 1997, and discovered Craig & Sally's back then. We've gone back in May every year (except last year due to medical issues) to enjoy the great weather but, moreso, to dine numerous times at Craig & Sally's. We can truly say we've never had anything less than a great meal there, and most have been excellent to outstanding. Sally's unique slant on old favorites paired with Craig's uncanny ability to suggest the perfect wine complement adds up to a recipe for an unmatched dining experience. Hope to see you there!

—Posted by Dave Dengos on 21 Jan 2007 @ 06:07 UTC #