Top 10 outrages of the 50 Best thing
1. Tio Pepe wasn't on it.
Mr. Gorelick, I have enjoyed your restaurant reviews and was glad you were made a permanent restaurant reviewer - I think (emphasis mine). However, we were personally devastated that you did not include Tio Pepe in your list of the 50 Best restaurants. Why was that? Surely any restaurant that has been in business business for 40 years, must be serving great food and giving good servicethey would not survive. One recent Saturday night, we went there with friends and they were packed with happy people who were obviously enjoying themselves. Although we were 8 for dinner, our service was superb. . Then we were there this past Thursday ( a quieter evening) and again had wonderful seafood and excellent and unobtrusive service. The chef Emiliano Sanz came out to greet his customers as he usually does and made sure everything was okay. He even sent us a new dessert he was trying out. How often do you see a chef come out to greet his customers. When I compare it to the horrible service we had at A__ (you can read my comments online) and the very rude service we had at P__ when the arrogant maitre d' would not let us sit at our table until the other party arrived there is just no comparison. Coming from Columbia we were 15 minutes early but he just made us stand with a bar, even though Mike was in a foot cast. Then when our friends arrived, he seated us at a table that had been empty the whole time we were standing. And that is good service? I am sure you were inundated with comments but I could not participate in the online chat. Please advise. You are breaking our hearts and that of Tio Pepe.
2. There was no mention of Tio Pepe:
Dear Mr. Gorelick, I was shocked that you did not include Tio Pepe among your top 50 restaurants. I understand that this list was based on your own personal experiences and opinions, but I'm still curious as to how you reached this decision.
I've dined at Tio Pepe on four occasions, the most recent being my 27th birthday in late-October. I've always found the waitstaff to be attentive and efficient and the quality of the food unsurpassed. The sangria is the best I've had in the city and although I haven't tasted EVERY sangria in Baltimore, I've tried enough to know the good from the bad. The suckling pig I enjoyed on my last visit was juicy and cooked to perfection. Granted, the restaurant can become cramped, nd being seated does not go assmoothly as it could. No place is perfect of course. Making reservations at the P___ about two months ago was an extremely frustrating ordeal - I had to spell my name three times for the host and was put on hold twice during the exchange. The only reason I didn't slam the phone down in aggravation and take my business elsewhere is that I love the P___ experience once I arrive at the restaurant.
3. The exclusion of Tio Pepe
Richard Gorelick's list lost all credibility when he left out Tio Pepe. Is it a personal vendetta?4. "There is a little restaurant at 10 W. Franklin St. you should try"
5. How could you forget Tio Pepe?
Various posts on my Facebook page
6. Gorelick! Tio Pepe!!
Various on-the-street encounters
7. Hello!?!? Tio Pepe?!?
8. Where was Tio Pepe?
Conversation at mother's bridge game
9. Tio Pepe
10. Frazier's on the Avenue!!!!!!
The omission from the list of Tio Pepe stirred up an emotional response.
Tio Pepe was my family's special occasion restaurant. Established in 1968, it was a pioneering restaurant in the Baltimore dining scene and has weathered its share of storms. It's still there, remarkably unchanged. I haven't been in the past year, but it hasn't been that long since my last visit -- I'd say three years. It was how I remembered it.
I risk sounding both self-aggrandizing and self-serving (a neat trick) with this next comment, but I think having left Tio Pepe off the list entirely may have served the restaurant better than ranking them in the 40s.
I would characterize its omission as a deliberate accident:
I made my first draft of the 50 Best Restaurants in a free fashion. I thought of a place and typed in a document. I wanted to see which restaurants would fight their way onto the list. I did this, in part, the way you might. By walking a mental map of the city -- what am I missing in Fells Point?
After this first pass, I started ordering them, roughly, from top to bottom, in groups of ten. The upper quintile was always going to be safe; anything in the bottom quintile was in danger of being bumped off as more restaurants came to mind.
Of course, I eventually consulted various databases, online and off, to help me recall restaurants that hadn't been in the front of my mind. I occasionally shared different versions of the list with editors and with one friend -- what's missing, what's weird, what's egregious? It was a back-and-forth process, building and winnowing. At one point I had a document with 138 restaurants on it. Tio Pepe wasn't on it.
Closer to deadline, though, its absence was noticed. There was still time for me to have instated Tio Pepe on the list. I didn't. I stand by that.
If nothing else, Tio Pepe deserves my re-consideration. I plan to visit soon. (It may be a few weeks or a few months) or maybe longer.
2005 Baltimore Sun photo/Elizabeth Malby