Esquire published its annual best new restaurants list, and Texas did quite well, getting three nods (only California had more, with four).
Food writer Josh Ozersky chose the winners, and Austin’s Paul Qui, chef-owner of Qui, received one of the top honor’s, being named Esquire’s chef of the year. Knife steakhouse in Dallas was also among the magazine’s top twelve restaurants of the year, while Cured, a charcuterie house and restaurant in San Antonio, was designated one of six runners-up.
Ozersky called Knife “the steakhouse of the future,” and credited its chef, John Tesar (also chef at Spoon seafood restaurant in Dallas), for sourcing much of its meat from Texas’s 44 Farms and for selling a steak for $25. (Strangely, Ozersky did not mention the steak that has received the most media attention, the special 240-day-aged ribeye.)
In praising Paul Qui (pictured center, below, with Qui’s PR maven, Deanna Saukam, and Ozersky), Ozersky wrote, “Qui came to national prominence a few years ago when he won Top Chef . . . but before that he was revered in Austin for his work at Uchi, the city’s best Japanese restaurant . . . One side of his new restaurant [Qui] has a tasting counter serving as a platform for his most ambitious and precarious creations. A few hundred feet away, on the patio, he’s serving Filipino street food.”
Fewer words were dedicated to Cured, but Ozersky noted the restaurant’s interior design and chef Steve McHugh’s specialty items: “[Cured occupies a]n ancient building, gutted out, and filled with all the products of a skilled chef’s imaginings; the place is named for its hams but it’s the whole hogs and other roasted meats that soar the highest.”
Esquire’s list has undergone a major overhaul this year. In contrast to previous years—when then critic John Mariani would name a large number (upwards of 100) of largely fine-dining venues as the best new places in the country—this year Esquire tapped food writer and personality Josh Ozersky to pull together the list. It is much shorter and much more varied, but there are supplementary goodies online. One such is the writer’s “All-Star Dinner,” with favorite dishes from his travels.
And just what are the qualifications of Esquire’s new food czar? From his online bio: “Josh Ozersky is the executive producer and host of Ozersky.TV (which makes short videos about the New York food scene). He also writes the “Taste of America” column for Time magazine and is the author of the book The Hamburger: A History (2008). A winner of a James Beard award for food writing, he was formerly the editor of New York magazine‘s food blog, Grub Street. He also produced the festival Meatopia. He lives in New York City.”