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What Critics Are Saying About the 2015 JBFA Best New Restaurant Finalists

Seven restaurants were nominated this year.

The James Beard Foundation announced the finalists for this year's Best New Restaurant category this morning. They include Bâtard (NYC), Central Provisions (Portland, ME), Cosme (NYC), Parachute (Chicago), Petit Trois (Los Angeles), The Progress (San Francisco), and Spoon and Stable (Minneapolis). Here's what critics — including Eater's very own Ryan Sutton and Bill Addison — had to say:

Bâtard, New York City

Photo: Nick Solares

Ryan Sutton filed a two (out of four) star review of Bâtard last August and was impressed by many aspects of the newest restaurant from restaurateur Drew Nieporent. While chef Markus Glocker's food isn't the most "groundbreaking" there are many "playful riffs on modern European-American fare" that Sutton enjoyed, like the octopus "pastrami":

"Glocker uses the natural gelatins of octopus and the warming spices of pastrami to make a silky mollusk terrine; it looks like a visual ode to a cobblestone road and it wouldn't be out of place between two slices of good rye... It's a brilliant dish where the line between sweet and savory is so brilliantly blurred the salad could easily function as a dessert with just a hint more fruit."

Central Provisions, Portland, ME

Photo: Tom Minervino

Bon Appetit's restaurant editor Andrew Knowlton was so impressed with chef Christopher Gould's cooking at Central Provisions, that he named it one of the magazine's best new restaurants of 2014. In particular he is fond of the restaurant's raw fish dishes:

"Chef Christopher Gould isn't just pairing pristine slices of fish with really good olive oil, sea salt, and a squeeze of lemon at his rustic restaurant in Portland, Maine. He's also garnishing pieces of yellowfin tuna with radish, sesame seeds, tangy mustard-soy vinaigrette, and slivers of fried shallots in what eats like a spicy tuna roll (minus the rice)... Of course, there's more to Central Provisions's small-plates repertoire than crudo (see: crispy skate with XO sauce or caramelized sheep's cheese with fresh peaches). But at the end of the day, you'll find me at the restaurant's kitchen counter, rooting for team raw all the way."

Cosme, New York City

Photo: Daniel Krieger

Ryan Sutton found much to love about Cosme, chef Enrique Olvera's first New York City establishment calling it "one of NYC's most relevant new restaurants." Sutton — who gave Cosme three out of four stars — is quick to point out that Cosme isn't any old Mexican restaurant:

"Cosme seeks to change the way we interpret (and how much we pay for) the diverse and luxurious foods from South of the Border. Dinner for two after tax and tip probably won't cost less than $200, making Cosme one of USA's most expensive Mexican spots."

In particular, Sutton was impressed with Olvera's use of maize:

"Is there any other New York chef that shows off maize in all its multifaceted glory than Olvera? Let's start with the purple crisps that begin every meal; the dense tostadas taste like something out of a nuclear-powered movie theater, popcorn to the power of ten... And just when you think you're about to get sweet corn for dessert, Olvera brings out just the opposite, a corn mousse with a vegetal sting. Only a sugary husk meringue on top provides the sweet relief this brilliant dish needs. Call it a Mexican pavlova."

Parachute, Chicago

Photo: Timothy Hiatt

Bill Addison wrote in September that Parachute, the new restaurant from Top Chef contestant Beverly Kim and her husband Johnny Clark "blurs cultural borders with...much heart and finesse." In particular he was blown away by their version of a Korean favorite:

"The couple's take on dol sot bibimbap, Korea's famous rice salad, appears almost too polite with its untraditional barbecued onions, escarole, and pearly slices of albacore tuna. But it arrives blazing—you can catch the muffled sound of sizzling rice like applause heard from a distance—and the bottom layers chars and the ingredients get tumbled and every bite differs.

Petit Trois, Los Angeles

Photo: Bill Addison

Chef Ludo Lefebvre's classic French omelet at his new Los Angeles bistro Petit Trois is consistently the subject of praise, and Bill Addison can see why:

"... Most of the time omelets in restaurants plain suck, and even ones cooked at home too often emerge from the pan bronzed and rubbery. Ludo Lefebvre's omelet at Petit Trois... is Brigitte Bardot blond. His cooks move quickly, just setting the eggs and then rolling them around black pepper Boursin, which sounds rather 1985 but works. The cheese assimilates instantly into the overall texture. With a lightly dressed salad on the side, the dish is a complete and, as the French would say, correct meal any time of day."

The Progress, San Francisco

Photo: Patricia Chang

San Francisco Chronicle critic Michael Bauer dropped three stars on The Progress, the latest venture from State Bird Provisions duo Stuart Brioza and Nicole Krasinski. He found the food to be "compelling," writing:

"From start to finish, the food is innovative and familiar at the same time. Not every dish is flawless — the dumplings were a tad doughy, the grilled beef with mustard miso lacked brightness, and a few combinations tended to be jarring — but even those show how the kitchen is thinking and that it doesn't take itself too seriously."

Spoon and Stable, Minneapolis

Photo: Official

Dara Moskowitz Gumdahl filed a review of chef Gavin Kaysen's first restaurant Spoon and Stable for Mpls St. Paul magazine. While she didn't love everything, she admitted that there were some "extraordinary plates":

"Scallop crudo was a sensuous intensity of fresh scallops firmed up a bit with lime zest and salt, then decorated with charred scallion vinaigrette, a chiffonade of shiso leaves, compressed vinegared green apples, and crackling slips of garlic and fresno chili peppers. Each bite was like a waltz-step of lush pleasure followed by a tap-dance snap and crackle of vibrant spice. Delightful... Crispy potatoes, thrice-cooked in a process of baking, tearing, butter, garlic, and best-kitchens-in-the-world magic, are so good they could become a modern classic: Eat those right away."

Who do you think will win? Write your guesses in the comments below:

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