Yesterday, Zagat, the dining-guide company that's been surveying locals on the dining scene and printing the results for more than three decades, released a guide to the top 15 food cities of 2015, with Baltimore ranked as No. 2. (Pittsburgh clinched the No. 1 spot, while Washington, D.C. ranked No. 3—yeah, suck it, D.C.!) It's true that Baltimore's food scene has been changing and growing greatly in just the past year, and it's great to see it getting recognition from a company outisde Baltimore, and it totally deserves the award (and maybe it's sacrilege to say this in Baltimore but yeah, Pittsburgh deserves that No. 1 slot, sorry not sorry), and I know nobody likes a spoilsport, but can we acknowledge that Zagat's write-up of Baltimore totally sucks?
The writer of the blurb can be forgiven slightly for having a write-up that reads like a quick Google search of Baltimore, seeing as how she's based in Brooklyn, but c'mon, this sentence: "Other notable openings this year: former 'Top Chef' runner-up Bryan Voltaggio's first Baltimore restaurant Aggio, Shake Shack, which arrived in February, and Azumi in the Four Seasons, where Tokyo native Eiji Takase has been serving umami-bomb Japanese tasting menus since November." First of all, Aggio and Azumi both opened last year (and that "umami-bomb" descriptor sounds kind of familiiar, just saying), and second of all, Shake Shack? Really? That's the best you can do?
The blurb praises Spike Gjerde's James Beard Foundation Award win and lists all his restaurants, and pays tribute to the Mount Vernon Marketplace, and those are definitely worth highlighting, but I can't help but wish that the writer could have gotten more to the heart of what really makes this city's food scene great: the increasingly international offerings. The sizable number of restaurants committed to serving locally sourced and responsibly used ingredients. And yeah, of course it's cool and all that the Brooklyn bakery Robicelli's is moving to Baltimore next year, but I'm also proud of the locals who put together pop-up dinners or work for years at the chance of opening a restaurant because they love food and they love this city.
But hey, maybe this ranking, flaws and all, will still convince people to come into Baltimore to try all the great food our restaurant scene has to offer. And hey, if the Zagat writer wants to come down to Baltimore sometime, I'd be happy to show her around.