An article in today's food section at the Guardian alerted me to a fascinating new concept in the world of food criticism. No, not the "food critic paywall" that the article is primarily concerned with, but an aside in the middle of the column about something called Page One.
According to Guardian columnist Tim Hayward:
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
Page One is a nicely designed website containing recommendations for 100 London restaurants by [Fay] Maschler and her team (Simon Davis, her partner in restaurant consultancy A Private View and Divia and Joel Cadbury). According to the site, "in the opinion of the founders of Page One there are only 100 restaurants you need to know about at any one time" and they claim to offer members "speedy, elegant access to privileged information" which, according to the press release, includes "insider advice" on matters such as who to know and where to sit.
For your £100 annual membership fee you get a password and instructions for logging on "in an attractive gift box."
Yep. That's a hundred notes for a password.
This leads to a question: Could this concept be applied to any large city? Are there only 100 restaurants worth knowing at any given time in New York, Chicago, Houston?
Although "best of" and "top 10" lists aren't exactly new -- our own Robb Walsh is in the final stages of counting down the 100 best dishes in Houston, after all -- the idea of a food critic marketing their opinion in a condensed, insiders-only version of such lists is intriguing. Books like The Ultimate Food Lover's Guide to Houston from the editors at My Table Magazine and the Fearless Critic are indispensible guides to eating right in the Bayou City, but they don't come priced at $152, and they don't feature exclusive opinions from one, solitary, well-respected food critic.
Would you pay £100 -- or even just $100 -- for access to such a guide? And, more importantly, of the 5,000 some-odd restaurants that our city contains, which Houston establisments do you think would be shoo-ins for such a list?