Each 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 Optimist — Ford 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