Zagat releases its 2010 survey
They’re dining out less, seeking out better deals, and even eating more healthfully because they’re apparently scrimping on dessert and booze.
But Tim Zagat’s more than 38,000 volunteer foodies are still haunting the city’s toniest spots, and they’ve rated Le Bernardin as the city’s No. 1 restaurant in the Zagat 2010 NYC Restaurant survey, which hits bookstores today.
Daniel is No. 2 followed by Jean Georges. Last year’s top-ranked Per Se fell to No. 4.
This year’s Newcomers list shows off New Yorkers’ wide-ranging tastes. High-end Italian seafood resto Marea, on Central Park South, was voted No. 1, and East Village Italian sandwich shop Porchetta came in at No. 2.
The good news …
Even with the worst economy in decades, the city still saw more openings than closings — 157 versus 102, according to the latest edition.
That resiliency isn’t a surprise, said survey founder Zagat.
“There are over 600 places in the guide where you can eat lunch for less than $20 and dinner for less than $30. They are designed to compete with your ability to shop, cook and clean, and have been the fastest-growing part of the sector for a long time,” he said.
According to this year’s survey, 56 percent of surveyors report finding better deals; 37 percent say it’s easier to land a table; 38 percent feel “more appreciated”; and 18 percentare eating more healthfully.
… and the bad news
The survey shows a dramatic drop in dining out, with surveyors eating out an average of 3.0 times per week, down from 3.3 to 3.4 times per week during the four previous years.
“I didn’t expect to see that drop to that degree. That’s really serious,” Zagat said. “Many major corporations have cut back on high profit margin parties,” he noted. “And about 85 percent of all meals are leisure. That’s changed,” he said.
Another element that surprised Zagat was this year’s inflation of prices— 2.5 percent to be exact. “I thought it would be flat,” he said. “We’ve had several years — between 2001 and 2007 — where New York restaurant inflation was about 1 percent. I would have thought more than any other year, that it would be have been flat.”
According to the survey, when they do dine out, 43 percent of surveyors are being more attentive to prices; 41 percent are eating at less expensive places; 21 percent are skipping appetizers and/or dessert; and 19 percent are cutting back on alcohol. In fact, only 22 percent of New Yorkers say their dining habits have been unaffected by the economy.
“There are many more casual places,” Zagat said. “Even the top chefs have been going to things like DBGB, Bar Artisanal, that are less expensive and more casual. But then you have expensive places too, like SHO Shaun Hergatt and Marea, which are top rated,” Zagat said.
And despite the fact that formal spots like Chanterelle, Café des Artistes and Rainbow Room have shuttered, Zagat warned against thinking that it’s a upscale dining apocalypse.
“It’s obvious that fine dining isn’t dead, look at the top spots — Daniel, Le Bernardin, Jean Georges. Does that look like fine dining in New York is dead?”
Zagat surveyors are asked to rank their favorite spots. Here are the top 10:
Gramercy Tavern, 42 E. 20th St.
Union Square Café, 21 E. 16th St
Peter Luger, 178 Broadway (Driggs Ave), Brooklyn
Le Bernardin, 155 W. 51st St.
Babbo, 110 Waverly Pl.
Daniel, 60 E. 65th St.
Balthazar, 80 Spring St.
Gotham Bar and Grill, 12 E. 12th St.
Eleven Madison Park, 11 Madison Ave.
Bouley, 163 Duane St.