Ranking Bobby Flay’s restaurants is a pursuit reserved for the exceedingly bold. The popular and entrepreneurial chef has become a household name due to his position as a top Food Network star. His television shows are award-winners, and fans flock to his restaurants to have a taste of the food Flay has made famous. He has hosted more than twelve shows. His restaurants and chain eateries fall under the umbrella of Bold Foods, and he has launched at least 27 of them. He is a celebrity chef with a net worth estimated to be $20 million dollars.
So, what is it that makes ranking Flay’s restaurants challenging? He and his television shows have certainly won numerous prestigious awards.
Here’s the short list:
- 1993 Outstanding Graduate Award; French Culinary Institute
- 1993 Rising Star Chef of the Year; James Beard Foundation
- International Association of Culinary Professionals 1995 Award for Design
- Outstanding Service Show Host 2004, 2005, Daytime Emmy Award
- James Beard Foundation’s 2005 National Television Food Show Award
- James Beard Foundation’s 2007 Who’s Who of Food & Beverage in America
- Best Culinary Program 2009 Emmy Award
- Culinary Hall of Fame Induction
- Hollywood Walk of Fame Star-the first TV chef to have one
But, finding awards for his restaurants is difficult. The accolades are easy to find. The public loves him, and many critics have taken note of his excellent Mesa Grill, New York. In 1992, Mesa Grill received the Gael Greene’s Restaurant of the Year, from New York Magazine. It’s closed now, prompting lesser critics to cite the closing as evidence of its failing quality. But Flay himself, when interviewed, noted that the landlords raised the rent four times higher than it had been. Flay made the wise business decision to close it, but that also prompted much speculation. His Mesa Grill, Las Vegas earned one Michelin Star in 2008, and it was removed in 2009. That’s also prompted questions about Flay’s expertise.
Truth is, Flay left high school when he was just 17 years old, though he studied to earn his high school graduation certificate later. He worked at Baskin-Robbins, a pizza parlor, and then went on to Joe Allen Restaurant in the Theater District in Manhattan. His job there was building salads. It was Joe Allen who paid Flay’s tuition to the French Culinary Institute. The television success, the empire of cookbooks, the restaurants located across the United States are all part of the public eye now.
Who would be bold enough to rank this Iron Chef’s amazingly popular establishments? One solution is to take Flay’s lead. He may be a daunting culinary persona, but he’s also one seriously good chef. He’s listed his flagship restaurants on his website, and there happen to be five highlighted of the 27 he owns. Perhaps his favorites; perhaps the most successful. Here they are, with reviews gleaned from top food critics and travel companies:
- 324 Lafayette Street
- New York, NY 10012
- 212 334 6400
Zagat reviewed Gato as follows:
- Food 4.5
- DÃ©cor 4.2
- Service 4.3
Reviewers enjoyed the bold flavors in the Spanish-inspired Mediterranean menu. They said that the meals are “wonderfully creative” and the front bar is a great place to select from the full menu while experiencing the “cool industrial” dÃ©cor and “fun vibe” of the crowd.
Bobby Flay Steak
- Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa
- 1 Borgata Way
- Atlantic City, NJ 08401
- 609 317 1000
Zagat reviewed Bobby Flay Steak as follows:
- Food 4.4
- DÃ©cor 4.3
- Service 4.4
The review included praise for the “excellent steak” the “really good martinis”, excellent service, and the David Rockwell design of the room. It’s described as an enjoyable, splashy steakhouse by a celebrity chef. The “lines around the corner” attest to its popularity, even though the tabs tend to be on the “high-roller” end.
Mesa Grill Las Vegas
- Caesars Palace Las Vegas
- Las Vegas, NV 89109
- 702 731 7731
Zagat reviewed this Tex-Mex spot on The Strip as follows:
- Food 4.4
- DÃ©cor 4.1
- Service 4.3
Described as offering flavors “from a celeb chef”, this Southwestern kitchen and bar is full of flavor, inventive with a “kick”, and served up in some “colorful digs” with “knowledgeable” wait staff.
Bar Americain New York
- 152 W. 52nd Street
- New York, NY 10019
- 212 265 9700
Fodors reviewed this venue pleasantly, describing it as offering Southern style brasserie fare. The review described the food as for those brave souls who enjoy “naughty” amounts of butter, bacon, cream, bourbon, whisky and delicious pastry cream.
Zagat reviewed Bar Americain as follows:
- Food 4.3
- DÃ©cor 4.3
- Service 4.2
Zagat reviewed the cuisine as “inventive yet accessible”, served with promptness at a premium price, though in a perfect location to enjoy a pre-theater meal.
Bobby’s Burger Palace
(Here’s one of the many locations across the United States)
- Bergen Town Center
- 610 Bergen Town Ctr.
- Paramus, NJ 07852
- 201 368 7001
Yelp rating for the Bergen Town Center location based on 544 reviews:
- 5 stars, 96 Yelpers
- 4 stars, 214 Yelpers
- 3 stars, 145 Yelpers
- 2 stars, 61 Yelpers
- 1 star, 28 Yelpers
The Yelp reviewers noted the high quality of the meat, the unique flavors of dipping sauces for the fries and onion rings, the innovative burger flavor combinations, and good prices. These are all good things, since Flay has been clear that gourmet chefs long to have a place where they can enjoy a high-quality burger in a casual environment. He may be on to something really good.