As 2010 comes to a close, Eater surveyed a number of industry types, writers, eaters and more. We asked the group eight questions, everything from Restaurant Standbys and Top Newcomers to Single Best Meal and Headline for 2011. Everything will be revealed—cut, pasted, unedited and unadulterated—by the time we check out on Thursday to ring in the New Year.
Q: What and where was your single best meal in 2010?
Nick Kindelsperger, Grub Street: I’m very bitter about this one. I had a stunning meal at L2O, one that seemed to cement Laurent Gras’s name in my brain forever. We started with a few delicate fish dishes, all about a tablespoon in size, and all perfect. Then I shared a whole roasted duck. Of course, now he is gone, and while I have very high hopes for the new chef, it’s still sad to see such a talent leave town.
Penny Pollack, Chicago: My four-course dinner @ L2O, post Gras.
Julia Kramer, Time Out Chicago: In Chicago, dinner and Sunday noodle lunch at Takashi. Anywhere, dinner at Commis in Oakland.
Natasha Liberman, a la card: Schwa—always a unique and incredible dining experience.
Chris LaMorte, Urban Daddy: Alinea
Heather Sperling, Tasting Table: Chez L'Ami Jean in Paris. Creativity and simplicity coexist there in a beautiful way. Combinations that surprise alongside pure French-bistro-fantasy simplicity. And the world's best rice pudding.
David Tamarkin, Time Out Chicago: It was the butternut squash pizza from Great Lake, and I ate it at the bar at Simon's.
Liz Grossman, Plate: Girl & the Goat: Himachi crudo with pork belly, short rib and edamame, the fudgesicle dessert, baby octopus ...housemade breads....everything!
Rodrick Markus, Rare Tea Cellar: Tatami 19 course tea dinner at L20
David Hammond, LTHForum and Sun Times: Best meal was at home. Rush Creek Reserve (new this season from Uplands Dairy, destined to be one of the great American cheeses), a Red Hen baguette, green salad and good Pinot Noir. Nothing was cooked, no animals were harmed in its preparation, and this is one meal I will remember for a long time. Extraordinary fromage.
Mike Sula, Chicago Reader: An array of fresh seafood in the night market in Duong Dong, Phu Quoc Island, Vietnam
Michael Gebert, Sky Full of Bacon: Barbecue at L.C.'s in Kansas City, frankly. But sticking to Chicago, Ruxbin, partly because it feels sort of like a college town-y granola place, ought to be serving black bean burritos, and then something comes to your table and... wow. Like most people with selective nostalgia for youth (would like to go back, wouldn't touch now what I regularly ate then), that's a combination with a powerful emotional lure.
Michael Nagrant, New City: Raku – Las Vegas. I generally make fun of tofu, but their silky house-made stuff swimming in a hot, sweet, salty soul-soothing broth almost made me a vegetarian. Precise grill technique and balance of flavor on every single dish made even old school ideas like grilled-bacon-wrapped cherry tomatoes seem novel. I ate at Atelier Robuchon the night before and Raku kicked its fussy Gallic butt like a gang of angry Yakuza.
Alpana Singh, Lettuce Entertain You and Check, Please!: Chef Curtis Duffy's tasting menu at Avenues
Chandra Ram, Plate: Avenues – Curtis Duffy’s king crab, with steelhead roe, kalamansi, and togarashi, topped with a sugar cage. It’s delicious, incredibly complex – in both flavor and textures – and absolutely beautiful. I love that Duffy balances innovation with simple good flavors.
Emily Fiffer, Daily Candy: Dinner at West Town Tavern. It’s not new, but it’s my favorite Chicago restaurant. It’s the most consistent and comforting, and the specials are always on point.
Carly Fisher, The Feast: My birthday dinner of Beef Bourguignon and "Grandma Potatoes" from my grandmother. She's a highly underrated chef working underground in Chicago.