Restaurant Guide To 50 Top Cities

Posted: August 30, 1987

Ever pull into a strange city around mealtime with nothing going for you but the Restaurants section of the Yellow Pages and a desk clerk who knows as much about food as about the Second Law of Thermodynamics?

At times like this, wouldn't it be nice to pick the brains of the local newspaper's restaurant critic? Wouldn't it be great to learn, in a matter of moments, the name and whereabouts of a wonderful place to have seafood or Chinese fare or to treat yourself to a full-fledged French feast?

The Best Places to Eat in America (Harper & Row, $8.95) does just that. In this concise, informative paperback edited by Janice Okun and Eleanor Ostman, 50 food writers from as many major U.S. and Canadian cities suggest ideal restaurants in their bailiwicks for the kind of meal you had in mind.

For each city, from Albuquerque to Washington, the local food writer picks best bets that include breakfast and brunch, ethnic food, seafood and steaks. There are also entries under such headings as "The Full Treatment," "Late- Night Hungries" and "Singles Hangouts."

Each of the entries touches on menu highlights and tries to convey a little of the establishment's character and ambiance. A box at the end of each entry tells when the place is closed, its price and noise level, whether reservations are required and the quality of its service.

* Confessions of a Tour Leader (Prima Publishing & Communications, paperback, $7.95). This is a civil, engaging memoir by Baxter and Corinne Geeting, a California couple who became tour-group leaders in order to reconcile a college professor's salary with their yen to travel. The book begins with their reasonably disastrous efforts to organize their first tour and then draws on their tour-group experiences in such chapters as "Love in Bloom," "How to Survive in a Crisis" and "How to Sin in Paradise" (which has to do with shopping). Anyone who has ever been on a guided tour will recognize many of the characters and situations.

* The Good Value Guide to Britain (Prentice-Hall, paperback, $10.95). This book, from the respected Les Routiers Guide Series, provides succinct information on more than 1,400 Brtish pubs, restaurants and guest houses in England, Scotland, Wales, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man. Towns and villages are listed alphabetically for each region, along with recommended lodgings, and dining and drinking establishments. A brief description of each establishment includes house specialties, reservation suggestions, accepted credit cards and languages spoken.

* Passionate Pilgrims (Morrow, hardcover, $19.95). Subtitled English Travelers to the World of the Desert Arabs, this lively history of travel by James C. Simmons is on the order of Alan Moorehead's White Nile and Blue Nile. It deals with the fascinating 19th-century British men and women who traveled and lived among the Bedouins. Chapters are devoted to such people as Richard Burton, who risked his life by disguising himself as an Arab pilgrim to Mecca in order to become the first Briton to behold the Holiest of Holies, and Lady Jane Digby, who turned her back on her European suitors to marry a Bedouin leader.

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