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The Optimist named “Restaurant of the Year” by Esquire Magazine

esquire-logoEach year, Esquire magazine food writer John Mariani calls out a score of eateries on his annual list of the “Best New Restaurants in America.” This year the biggest award went to The OptimistFord Fry’s West Midtown seafood restaurant, which opened to good reviews and brisk business this summer.

Citing it as the “Restaurant of the Year,” Mariani writes:

“A soaring, convivial spot, the Optimist has a hip oyster bar shaped like a surfboard, a first-rate cocktail program, and seafood cooked with old-school expertise over a wood fire. Though everyone knew chef Ford Fry’s new place would be a big deal, the Optimist is far more than a resounding local success; it is an overnight totem of all that is wonderful about American food today.”

The Optimist’s chef is Adam Evans.

In his discussion of the year’s big trends, Mariani writes “the South is having a moment,” and he includes The Macintosh and Carter’s Kitchen in Charleston as well as The Southern Steak & Oyster in Nashville among the year’s best.

Mariani, who has been writing about restaurants for more than 35 years, has been accused of breaches in  his ethics policy by chefs and other food writers, accusations over which he got into a memorable tussle with Anthony Bourdain on this blog.

– by John Kessler for the Food & More blog

53 comments Add your comment


October 8th, 2012
10:36 pm

Perhaps congratulating a business built for the locals by a local and not a chain would be a good start. To hijack a review and turn it into a soapbox is a waste.

Great job guys – congratulations.

Bama Man

October 8th, 2012
11:32 pm

This is why I don’t read Yelp reviews, most of “you people” have no idea what the hell you are talking about. I am 32 years of age and I find most of my generation a bunch of spoiled brats that pick knits over moronic things. Wah..parking was valet only, wah…it was loud. The fact is, y’all have no damn idea what the hell you’re talking about. So go back to your kick ball leagues and stfu.

Matt Chongo

October 11th, 2012
2:18 pm

The optimist is a lovely space, the staff is cute and sometimes friendly, the food is really average and totally inconsistent but then again, is the food and service at all of his restaurants. Ford is lucky and must have a heap of cash backing him? Funny to see so many places like this, trendy, tragically hip and full of hype arrive and fade away. Time will tell if this place lasts and has staying power. The best restaurants that embrace full service are built and thoughtfully conceived with longevity in mind. The optimist feels like a quick romance and id bet lacks the integrity and richness to make the long haul. The esquire award the past few years is showing its weakness. Like a guy with a severe midlife crisis, John Mariani has blown his wad and just opted for Miley Cyrus in a red corvette over Catherine Deneuve in a Deusenberg. Let the laurels lay down on Broadway …then let’s see if the optimist has a bullet proof soul and the fishermen that can weather the storm.