Need help in choosing a restaurant? There are guides galore, from Michelin to Zagat to Gayot. Not to mention Yelp, Chowhound, and TripAdvisor. And then there are the innumerable local dining guides, focused on particular cities or even specific neighborhoods.
If that weren’t overload enough, there’s a new contender for diners’ attention. This week, the first edition of La Liste’s “1,000 Remarkable Restaurants” was posted online, purporting to be the definitive guide to fine dining worldwide.
How are those thousand restaurants chosen and ranked? According to the publisher, “La Liste uses score averaging and semantic analysis to keep up, searching in 200+ food guides, review sites, gourmet blogs, social media, and major national and local publications in 48 countries… making it the first and the only restaurant ranking based on transparent, objective and verifiable criteria.” In other words, it’s a list compiled by a computer algorithm. But the bulk of the data processed by that algorithm is created by diners and reviewers. The guidebooks themselves are assigned “trustworthiness indexes” by several thousand chefs, who presumably have their own agendas. The chefs are appointed by a panel of experts chosen by La Liste. It’s complicated, and the claim of transparency merits considerable skepticism.
What we do know for sure is that the list’s creator is the French Foreign Ministry, with corporate sponsorship from the likes of Nestle and Moet Hennessy. It’s widely supposed that the French initiative is a response to the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list, which originates in London and hasn’t held French restaurants in especially high regard. So yes, it’s a food fight.
Here then are La Liste’s 10 best restaurants:
- Restaurant de l’Hotel de Ville, Crissier, Switzerland
- Per Se, New York
- Kyo Aji, Tokyo
- Guy Savoy, Paris
- Schauenstein, FÃ¼rstenau, Switzerland
- El Celler de Can Roca, Girona, Spain
- Kyubey, Tokyo
- Maison Troisgros, Roanne, France
- Auberge du Vieux Puits, Fontjoncouse, France
- Joel Robuchon, Yebisu Garden Place, Japan
And in the U.S., these are the 10 highest scorers:
- Per Se, New York
- Le Bernardin, New York
- Jean-Georges, New York
- Eleven Madison Park, New York
- Joel Robuchon (USA), Las Vegas
- Saison, San Francisco
- The Restaurant at Meadowood, St. Helena, Calif.
- Atera, New York
- The French Laundry, Yountville, Calif.
- Daniel, New York
It remains to be seen whether La Liste can shoulder its way into the crowded restaurant-guide space, much less establish itself as the go-to source for the world’s savviest diners. The attempt to use a transparent process in assigning scores to restaurants is intriguing. But in the end, the results are based not just on the personal opinions of diners and critics, but on the preferences of chefs and La Liste’s panel of experts as well. The potential for conflicts of interest and self-serving input loom large.
In the end, the enormous quantity of data run through the algorithm could generate a more reliable result, or just a more subtly subjective one.
Reader Reality Check
Is La Liste likely to become your new first-choice restaurant guide?
This article originally appeared on FrequentFlier.com.
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