GQ, whose longtime restaurant critic Alan Richman was not always well liked by chefs but who won many James Beard Awards for his work, has a new "Eater-in-Chief," and that's Brett Martin. Martin seems to have quietly slipped into Richman's shoes and chosen the magazine's Best New Restaurants for 2016 a list that's traditionally been a bit different, under Richman's watch, than similar lists from food mags, etc. and Martin's SF picks outof this year's dozen are Petit Crenn and The Perennial.
This is only one of a handful of food pieces Martin has written for the magazine, and that had to have been daunting and his greenness shows in declaring this "the year of the chicken sandwich" (it is? because of two places in New York?) and in suggesting that things are taking a turn for the "elemental" and "away from the over-manipulated, smokeless world of softly whirring sous vide machines," which at least in the Bay Area happened, like, five years ago.
But, he's done a valiant job of picking out more hard-to-define vibes and trends, even if he does seem to think that the humble of origins of the "yacht club" name in Liholiho Yacht Club which didn't make the final 12 and which was the ironic name for chef Ravi Kapur's uncles' boating pals who liked to barbecue together only reminds him of Thurston Howell III.
Of Atelier Crenn's more casual, seafood-focused sister restaurant, Martin writes that he was relieved that the nightly prix fixe wasn't as many courses as it appeared, with several arriving at once, to be shared. He calls it "a French soul-food meat-and-three."
And though he jokes that The Perennial and its hyper-sustainable schtick all over the menu "could have been hatched in the Portlandia writers’ room," he says "the food rode to the rescue," and that "even the bread made from that Kernza [the most sustainable starch] is warm and nuttily delicious enough to make you forget it's carbon-negative."
Meanwhile, the esteemed Mr. Richman, appears to have taken a gig with Town & Country, for whom he just got to venture outside the U.S. and declare Montreal the new "food capital of North America."
Related: The 17 Best New Restaurants Of 2015