Passion—whether for art, music, sports or wine—requires perseverance. That’s never truer than when the economy is uncertain and resources are limited. And nobody knows that better than the nation’s restaurateurs, pressed from all sides by rising costs, unfavorable international exchange rates and cautious consumers. The fact that so many continue to develop wine programs of excellence speaks to the depth of their passion. And so, in these trying times, we are especially proud to announce the results of the Wine Enthusiast Restaurant Awards for 2008.
These winners represent the apex of restaurant wine service. They continue to commit time and resources to train staff typically conducting weekly tastings, subsidizing continuing education outside the restaurant, often at wineries, so that their staffs learn about the winemaking process and see where it all begins. And these award winners continue to refine their wine lists and inventories to make them more inviting to their guests. To please both palate and pocketbook, some have searched for more economical wine selections, a task surely made harder by the dollar’s unfavorable exchange rate to the Euro, which means they’re searching harder in other places—and happily for us, discovering gems. It’s no accident that more than one wine director confided that he found it hard to identify the jewels of his current collection. “That’s like picking out your favorite child,” was a common sentiment.
Other restaurateurs have increased the numbers of by-the-glass selections—which, in many cases, have leaped from a dozen or so to 20, 30 or even 40
All these measures make for a more delightful dining and wining experience, one that is well worth recognizing.
As in past years, the Wine Enthusiast Restaurant Awards are based on the quality of the overall wine program, not just on the size of a restaurant’s wine list. Unlike other such awards, ours welcome eateries of any size and type. Selection, service, individuality and value are all judging criteria. Applicants complete a detailed questionnaire on their personnel, storage methods, stemware choices, service options, special events, menus and wine lists. Our judging panel, composed of members of our editorial staff and other wine professionals, carefully consider each establishment’s submission.
This year there were 551 winning restaurants in all. Of these, 355 received our Award of Distinction and 161, our Award of Unique Distinction. The 35 listed below were recognized with our highest honor, the Award of Ultimate Distinction.
Restaurants of Ultimate Distinction
0/8 Seafood Grill &Twisted Cork Wine Bar
Crabtree’s Kittle House
Crustacean Beverly Hills
Daniel’s Broiler Lake Union
Dulces Latin Bistro
Eleven Madison Park Restaurant
Elizabeth’s Café & Winery
The Fifth Floor
The Inn at Dos Brisas
Joe Fortes Seafood & Chop House
John Ash & Co.
The Lark Restaurant
Marcello’s La Sirena Restaurant
Pierpont’s at Union Station
Purple Cafe and Wine Bar
Vivere in the Italian Village
Wild Ginger Asian Restaurant and Satay Bar
Wine Cask Restaurant