Reviewers’ picks

Henri and K.B. have their own opinions about some of our ‘Best Of’ winners

Photo By Meredith J. Cooper

Editor’s Note: The following series of e-mails, apparently intended as internal communication between two of our Chow columnists, was recently leaked to Chico News & Review editors. Next week we will publish a second installment, in which the two writers discuss, originally off the record and not intended for print, their own favorite Chico restaurants.

Dear Henri,

I saw you at the Red Tavern last Thursday as I passed through the bar to the dining room; you were out watching Denny Latimer and some other men playing bocce ball. You’ll probably be devastated to know that the burnt-orange light from the setting sun on your otherwise lovely linen suit clashed horribly with your tangerine espadrilles.

I wanted to talk to you, but you seemed distracted—how was that Chateau Margaux, by the way?

As I’m sure you know the CN&R “Best Of” edition just came out, and I wondered what you thought about the food and drink categories. Personally, I could make peace only with Fine Dining and Sushi. The rest were truly unbelievable. I can only assume three things: 1. Winning restaurants lobbied their employees, friends and Thousand Island-dressing-loving relatives to go online and vote. 2. Diners in Chico are fiercely loyal to a few establishments and refuse to venture much outside Commercial Way. 3. The online voting system was designed by Diebold.

Let’s get together for a glass of Cab and a gripe session.


Mssr. K.

First of all, while Henri appreciates your breakfast offer, he must decline. He has recently purchased the new Abs of Steel 2 video and a case of lovely Pinot and will be spending his mornings for the next few weeks in front of his television. But sacre bleu! You’re so right! While it was at least respectable that the Red Tavern won for Fine Dining, Henri was shocked by some of the choices our very own readers made. Haven’t they been paying attention? Casa Ramos for best Mexican food? Quizno’s over Spiteri’s for best sandwich shop? Starbucks for best coffee house? Over the Naked Lounge and Bidwell Perk? Have these people no shame? And Jon and Bon’s beating out Shubert’s for best dessert place? Even the undiscriminating Miss Marilyn knows that nothing even comes close to a double scoop of Shubert’s chocolate chip in a waffle cone.


Dear Henri,

The Red Tavern’s winning the Fine Dining category seems a mere consolation prize within the best overall, local and fine restaurant trifecta. Voters must see it as an “event” restaurant—only for birthdays, anniversaries and Valentine’s Day. What’s worse, it didn’t even make a showing in the other two categories? Getting trumped by Sierra Nevada? Jedidiah’s? I know Sierra Nevada is our local sacred cow, but I wonder … WWKGT (what would Ken Grossman think)?

I’m not sure what has influenced the public’s perspective about the Red Tavern. The articles in both Sunset and Via magazines probably didn’t help promote its understated elegance, more neighborhood bistro than exclusive dinner club.

I could go on, so I still insist we visit. Perhaps some take-out and a picnic lunch somewhere? I’m usually famished after my morning basketball.


Dear Mssr. K.,

Basketball? Henri had no idea! But, again, he must decline. The arrival of fall has put him in a rather lugubrious mood, and he would probably not be the best picnic companion. I do appreciate our correspondence, however, and am most impressed with both your culinary knowledge and your candid manner of articulating it. Rare, these days. By the way, were you as surprised as Henri was at Big Chico Burger’s getting first place for Best New Restaurant? Over Jedidiah’s and 33 Steaks, Booze & Jazz? Henri can only wonder if our otherwise ethical editors underhandedly, perhaps to save space, combined that category with Best New Restaurant That Doesn’t Have a Wine List.

A la prochaine,


P.S. How tall are you?