Standing in Midtown as a shining beacon of culinary perfection, at least in the eyes of the New York Times, is Eric Ripert‘s piscinery Le Bernardin. Four NYT reviews, each with a perfect four star rating, over the course of twenty-some-odd years crowns this restaurant the longest running holder of the Times‘ highest dining accolade in history. A close second is Daniel Boulud‘s Daniel, which has gathered itself fifteen stars over four reviews. But beyond these record holders lie a slew of chefs with some pretty deceptive ratings. Which is why we’ve taken it upon ourselves to tally up the Times star counts of this city’s most reviewed chefs to find out who should be crowned the most overrated and underrated culinary talents working today.
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Mario Batali: Overrated
With six restaurants in the city reviewed a total of nine times, celebrity chef
Mario Batali's star average falls a bit shy of impressive. He's gained a total of 23 stars for his NYC ventures, but, by and large, he loses points for being spread too thinly. Luckily, his restaurant Del Posto grabbed a fourth star upon second review, so the Croc-sporting chef still has one perfect feather for his cap.
Jean-Georges Vongerichten: Overrated
J-GV ties Daniel Boulud for most
NYT reviews at a whopping ten spread over six restaurants, but if selling out was royalty, Jean-Georges would be king. Yes, his eponymous (without the hyphen) flagship is a two-time four-star holder, but with so many off-shoots, it appears Vongerichten has lost track of a few of his kitchens. Spice Market first opened with a glimmering 3-star review, but was quickly downgraded to one and hasn't been able to pick itself up since. The general consensus from critics is that Jean-Georges needs to quit opening restaurants in casinos and maybe check back in with the old standards.
Dan Barber: Underrated
Dan Barber's Blue Hill and Blue Hill at Stone Barns only scrape up three reviews between the two of them, but Daniel snags himself a total of eight stars. Plus, he got a New York Times reviewer to travel to Westchester to dine in one of his restaurants, which should stand impressively enough on its own. His success stems from his spot-on "farmer in the dell" impression and mastery of exquisitely executed "bucolic gastronomy." We're almost positive we'd find the chef/owner traipsing in the front door with a handful of freshly picked sugar snap peas charming...
Tom Colicchio: Overrated
Don't get us wrong. We love gay bear icon
Tom Colicchio as much as the next gent. But with six reviews of four joints and only fourteen stars, Tom falls a bit short. Now, to be fair, this isn't counting his days at Gramercy Tavern, which he left to focus on his Craft chains. Sadly, his standalone gigs don't shine quite so brightly as his perfectly bald dome. (For the record, the pork belly at Craftbar has never led us astray.)
David Chang: Overrated
Yeah, he won a fried chicken contest against
Questlove. But Momo-mastermind David Chang has been reviewed four times in an astonishingly small time frame and only snagged ten stars. He's batting Batali numbers at that rate. And have you tried the crackpie at Momofuku Milk Bar? It doesn't really invoke quite the same euphoria as its namesake stimulant (or, you know, so we'd imagine...).
Nobu Matsuhisa: Accurately Rated!
New York Times food critics! Nobu Matsuhisa has managed to maintain a respectable 3-star average, despite his numerous Nobu off-shoots. Nobu 57 and Nobu Next Door both gained the same near-perfect rating as their mack-daddy restaurant Nobu, which burst onto the NYC scene in the '90s. Hats off!
Charlie Palmer: Overrated
Charlie Palmer's Aureole first opened on the Upper East Side with a 3 star-rating. And, while that restaurant has been reviewed the same number of times as Ripert's Le Bernardin and Daniel Boulud's Daniel, it has far from maintained their records. While Charlie was busy opening up a superchain, his baby slipped to one star and stayed there, although, from what we hear, the burger is still damn good.
David Bouley: Accurately Rated!
Eccentric though its chef/owner may be,
David Bouley's eponymous flagship has held steady with two three-star ratings from the New York Times. And, with his side project brushstroke picking up a respectable two stars along the way, he goes the way of Nobu Matsuhisa with an accurate star rating.