It’s (finally!) the end of December, so we’re bidding good riddance to this garbage year. Deputy editor Andrew Knowlton, who eats at hundreds of restaurants with senior projects editor Julia Kramer to compile our annual picks for America’s Best New Restaurants, has a lot of opinions. He, understandably, wishes certain food trends would disappear starting January 1, beginning with overpriced avocado toast. Not even tater tots are safe!
This is his list:
- Toast with half an avocado that costs $7.
- Steak for two that costs $152. At some point, it becomes too expensive to serve.
- Square and rectangular plates, even if they’re made by a potter who lives in the woods with no electricity.
- Grain bowls are a fine addition to a daily diet… but that doesn’t mean they’re all I want to eat ever.
- Edibles. Those things will seriously mess you up. Roll one if you’ve got it, I say.
- La Croix insanity. You can find it by the caseload in our offices. I like sparkling water. I like flavored sparkling water. But it’s just water people. It doesn’t have to be a social status symbol.
- Frosé. I like my wine unfrozen.
- Zoodles. We are grown-ups, not children who need their vegetables disguised. Let’s eat like adults, okay?
- All-white restaurants with white subway tiles, some succulents, and Heath plates. Give me some crazy, brightly colored places. Something different. Make a statement.
- Loud restaurants — or how you know I’m getting old. It’s just too much these days. If I want it loud, I’ll just get a bowl of soup, give my kids a box of Skittles, and lock myself in a room with them.
- Everyone has a crudo. Unless you’ve got really great fish, I don’t want your $20 plates of whitefish crudo with ho-hum olive oil and salt. It’s one thing when everyone copies everyone else’s kale salad. It’s another thing when every restaurant thinks it can get crappy fish and cover it with some salt, lemon, and olive oil, and we’ll all just eat it up
- Sunchokes. Fried, mashed, roasted — it doesn’t really matter. You know what those things do to my stomach? It ain’t pretty.
- I don’t know if octopus has a lobbyist, but they need one. Otherwise, pretty soon there won’t be any left.
- Granola masquerading as candy so you can justify eating candy for breakfast.
- Tartare. Like the Shawshank Redemption, that shit is good. But I don’t need to watch or eat it every single second of every single day.
- Housemade tater tots. If you are a restaurant that is going to serve tater tots in the first place, you should not be making your own! It’s perhaps the most pretentious thing you can do. The frozen ones are already perfect! Ore-Ida makes damn fine ones, so save your time and go ferment something. Same rule applies to Doritos, Oreos, and ketchup.
- Shishito peppers. This is only about overkill. I don’t blame those little green peppers. Okay, maybe just the one in every ten that are super hot.
- Lobster rolls. They were never that good, and only tolerable during summer vacation while staring at a body of water.
- Shitty Playlists. Plugging in “Arcade Fire” and letting it go from there doesn’t count as curated.
- Waiters who say, “Can I explain how the menu works?”
- The bagged popcorn phenomenon. I can’t make Cheetos, Doritos, Funyons, or Fritos at home: That’s why I buy them in bags at the store. You know what I can make at home? Popcorn. You know what my eight-year-old daughter can make at home? Popcorn. I didn’t believe in the apocalypse until people starting paying $6.99 for popped corn kernels.
- Sweet potatoes. I feel a little bad about this one… until someone forces more sweet potatoes on me.
This was America’s Best New Restaurant of 2016: