For almost thirty years, Esquire magazine has put out its annual list of Best New Restaurants of the Year.
Their 2012 overall winner is The Optimist in Atlanta, which the magazine dubbed "A soaring, convivial spot, the Optimist has a hopping oyster bar shaped like a surfboard, a first-rate cocktail program, and seafood cooked with old-school expertise over a wood fire."
Creative food concoctions include the likes of hearth roasted red snapper in a lime broth, she-crab soup with shrimp toast and charred octopus with kimchee puree and coriander.
Brooklyn, New York's booming restaurant scene also won the hearts of Esquire staff with Gynnett St making the list as one of the best new restaurants of 2012. The Williamsburg restaurant's menu is small with only six starters and six main courses but dishes such as "Pea Shoots and Leaves, made with snap peas, radishes, curds, and whey, and a lustrous soybean-and-pistachio soup with rhubarb and butter reveal a chef who knows when to stop," reported Esquire.
Over the bridge from Brooklyn, the newly opened NoMad Hotel's restaurant in Manhattan won accolades as best dish of the year with its comforting roast chicken. Esquire said about the simple creation, "The dish that encompasses the moment best is a roast chicken that will make you rethink what roast chicken should be."
Chef Daniel Humm said to Esquire about the finely prepared roast, "We procure our chickens from Amish farms in Pennsylvania, with the head, feet, and innards intact. A cook delicately separates the skin from the meat and pipes in a mixture of brioche, butter, black truffle, and foie gras. The cavity is salted and filled with garlic, lemon, and herbs, then the bird is trussed and cooked in our hearth oven at 400 degrees and continuously basted with butter to give it a rich luster and color. When the breast is finished after about forty-five minutes, the legs are carved off and the dark meat is removed, then fricasseed with butter, shallots, and morels. A brown-butter sabayon is added. The breasts are carved and plated along with a seasonal accompaniment, like corn succotash and a black-truffle-chanterelle puree."
No wonder the gourmet creation won best dish. Who wouldn't like a little brown-butter sabayon and chicken stuffed with brioche, butter, black truffle, and foie gras.
West Coast newbies like State Bird Provisions in San Francisco made the list with menu items like quail friend in buttermilk and cayenne batter with sweet and sour jam. Gusto in Los Angeles also made the list with its newly opened trattoria opened by former Four Seasons Beverly Hills Chef Victor Casanova.
THE FULL LIST OF ESQUIRE'S BEST NEW RESTAURANTS 2012:
"Restaurant of the Year: The Optimist, Atlanta, Georgia
Chef of the Year: Roberto Donna of Al Dente, Washington, DC
Design of the Year: Juvia, Miami Beach, Florida
Dish of the Year: The Roast Chicken at The NoMad, New York City
Restaurateur of the Year: Gabriel Stulman, Perla, New York City
The Fourth Annual Esquire Restaurant Hall of Fame Inductee: Drew Nieporent
The Other Best New Restaurants of 2012:
Gusto, Los Angeles, California
Gwynnett St., Brooklyn
State Bird Provisions, San Francisco
AQ, San Francisco
Campo, Reno, Nevada
ELM, New Canaan, Connecticut
Carter's Kitchen, Mount Pleasant, South Carolina
The Macintosh, Charleston, South Carolina
The Southern Steak & Oyster, Nashville Tennessee
Bäco Mercat, Los Angeles
Barrio Queen, Scottsdale, Arizona
Bierbeisl, Beverly Hills, California
Sobou, New Orleans, Louisiana
Five New Chefs to Watch:
Ryan Hildebrand, Triniti, Houston
Ryan LaRoche, Nomi Kitchen, Chicago
Matthew Lightner, Atera, New York City
Adam Mali Brasserie S&P, San Francisco
Joe Ng, Redfarm, New York City"