Critic John Mariani’s southern-leaning list (if I was still working in Seattle, I’d have been obliged to note there isn’t a single Pacific Northwestern restaurant represented) also includes Atlanta’s King + Duke; Nashville’s Rolf and Daughters; New Orleans’ Mariza and two Dallas entries.
Praising chef Mike Lata’s deliberate restaurant-opening pace, Mariani writes, “a decade after opening Fig — still one of the best restaurants on the Eastern Seaboard — he has unleashed the Ordinary, whose name belies the canny intelligence that went into making it a bellwether American seafood house built within the stately lineaments of a historic bank building, with sixteen-foot Palladian-arch windows and a backlit skylight.”
Mariani was especially struck by the smoked trout pate, skate wing and triggerfish schnitzel at the ordinary, which earlier this year was beat out by media darling State Bird Provisions for the James Beard Foundation’s best new restaurant award.
“And for dessert, what else but a creamy, cool Carolina-gold-rice pudding?,” he concludes. “Wear seersucker or jeans — you’ll find both here — and listen in on the lilting Daisy Buchanan–like drawl of women for whom local gossip is one of the high arts.”