French group ranking the world’s greatest restaurants fetes one in Maine

In the ongoing global competition that is fine dining, a new authority has emerged.

As Time magazine explains, the foreign minister of France, a country with a proud culinary heritage, has convened a group called La Liste to determine once and for all which are the world’s greatest restaurants.

Which is not to say that the La Liste rankings won’t be disputed — after all, they were apparently launched in part to rival the previously established World’s 50 Best list, sponsored by Italian mineral water company San Pellegrino.

But the new French list has been celebrated by food writers as having more transparent criteria, and the La Liste ranking has earned instant credibility.

Time explains:

“Unlike the World’s 50 Best list, which is drawn from private surveys of chefs and those who frequent leading restaurants, La Liste is sourced from publicly available data, aggregating scores from 200 food guides and online review sites to produce what it hopes will be seen as an accurate, unbiased report of the best in the world.

The ranking is based on scores and reviews from a wide range of international sources: Michelin stars, yes, but also New York Times and Washington Post reviews, Zagat and Yelp ratings, Forbes and AAA travel guides and James Beard awards in the U.S., plus the cultural equivalents of these institutions in other countries (with help from foreign advisers).

[La Liste’s Antoine] Ribaut and his team then created an algorithm to assign these scores a value on a scale of 100; food factored in as 80 percent of the score, while ambiance, decor and wine combined factored in as 20 percent.”

So, based on that criteria, the world’s greatest restaurants are currently Restaurant de l’Hotel de Ville in Switzerland, followed by New York City’s Per Se and Tokyo’s Kyo Aji.

La Liste also released its ranking of the top 100 restaurants in America this month, and while the Big Apple dominated that list with a whopping 41 of the 100 slots, Maine did make an appearance.

The acclaimed Fore Street restaurant in Portland appeared at No. 88 on the prestigious list, just ahead of the Dining Room at Blantyre in Lenox, Massachusetts, and behind the Chefs Club by Food & Wine in Aspen, Colorado.

Fore Street was one of five New England restaurants on the list, and the only one outside Massachusetts (in addition to the Dining Room mentioned above, there were three Boston eateries ranked in America’s top 100).

This is not the first time the 20-year-old Fore Street’s been feted. Gourmet Magazine named it one of the country’s 50 best restaurants on two occasions, and Fore Street’s Sam Hayward has claimed a high-profile James Beard Foundation award as the northeast region’s top chef.