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Zagat shows Southern food rules New York City restaurant scene

NEW YORK — The South will rise again — at least on the New York City restaurant scene.

According to the 2012 Zagat guide to city dining, Southern food tops this year's trends, thanks to newcomers like Marcus Samuelsson's celebrity magnet Red Rooster and the Cardinal, an East Village eatery dishing up okra, smothered pork chops and fried green tomatoes.

Other trends include on-site gardens providing roof-to-table ingredients, according to the recently released guide.

This edition is the first New York guide since Zagat was acquired by Google last month. Tim Zagat, who founded the company with his wife, Nina, said readers won't notice the difference.

"The survey was largely completed before the deal closed," Zagat said.

The survey is also the first since New York City's letter-grade system for sanitation forced every restaurant to post an A, B or C in its window. The letter grades were just being rolled out when the 2011 guide was published.

More than four out of five surveyors said they approve of the grading system, and 35 percent said they would eat only at A-rated restaurants. Zagat said that creates "a huge pressure on the restaurant to maintain their high grade."

The most popular restaurant was Le Bernardin, Eric Ripert's French seafood temple. Surveyors said its "starchy" service, "reverential" crowd and "civilized" milieu combined for an "unforgettable" experience. They added that the $70 lunch is a relative bargain.

Zagat shows Southern food rules New York City restaurant scene 10/18/11 [Last modified: Tuesday, October 18, 2011 5:30am]

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