A book on savory dining tips to save time for travelers; Where to Eat in America, edited by William Rice and Burton Wolf. New York: Random House $6.95.
A revised second edition to the 1977 guide says this version is expanded to include 50 of North America's most traveled cities, including Montreal and Toronto, 2,100 in total.
There are dozens of books that cover these cities already, either individually or as part of regional guides, but this is one of the only books that embraces them all, and in a professional, reliable, and readable fashion.
Rice, who is executive food editor of the Washington Post, and Wolf, a food writer and co-author of the original Cooks' Catalogue, gathered information from food critics in the cities covered and edited the book in a highly pragmatic fashion.
The best thing about this book is that it reads the way most travelers think. For instance, restaurant choices are divided into categories that not only include ethnic specialties -- French, Italian, Greek, etc. -- but others such as "Best Hotel Meal," "Restaurant Near Airport," "Business Breakfast," "Fast, Good Food/Lunch," "Romantic," "Late Night Service," "For Families With Children," and more. Two of the most valuable categories, especially for first-time visitors to a city, are "Big Deal Worth It" restaurants and "Big Deal Not Worth It."
This is not a comprehensive guide by any means; it is merely a bag full of savory tips with brief descriptions of each restaurant. It's the next best thing to bumping into a restaurant critic in a bar and asking, "Hey, where can I get a good meal after 11 p.m. in this town?"
As the authors explain: "The city guide says books found in hotel rooms offer no quality judgments because the restaurant that buys the biggest ad is given the biggest display.
On the other hand, the well-meaning friend or acquaintance who lives in the city almost invariably directs or escorts the out-of-towner to some overdecorated, overpriced temple of Continental cuisine on the assumption that it would be an insult to take you to the hole-in- the-wall restaurant where his family goes for great pasta or to a noisy Middle Eastern place, even though it does serve the world's best hummus."
At the beginning of each city's section is an essay describing the culinary traditions of the area and what specialties to sample -- whether it is ribs in Dallas or Creole cuisine in New Orleans -- as well as tips on where to find good specialty food shops.