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 was the biggest dining surprise of 2010?
Carly Fisher, The Feast: Sprout. Before Dale Levitski joined, I was sure that restaurant would shutter in three months.
Emily Fiffer, Daily Candy: The British pub invasion; the fact that pork is still popular.
Chandra Ram, Plate: The Michelin Guide – Les Nomades, Avec and North Pond not getting stars was shocking to me; a serious omission.
Alpana Singh, Lettuce Entertain You and Check, Please!: The Michelin & Bib Gourmand ratings
Michael Nagrant, New City: The hubris with which owners kicked top talent to the curb this year. I mean this kind of thing has always been going on, but seeing Dave Carrier fired after he created one of the best restaurants in 2010 was shocking. Likewise Rob and Allie Levitt’s departure from a successful venture like Mado because of partnership issues was disappointing.
Michael Gebert, Sky Full of Bacon: That cupcakes turned out to be this year's Neapolitan pizza, and barbecue turned out to be this year's cupcakes, and izakayas turned out to be this year's barbecue, and butchering is apparently going to be next year's izakaya...
Mike Sula, Chicago Reader: The inventive but respectful Vietnamese food at Saigon Sisters, put out by a young chef who's never been to Vietnam.
David Hammond, LTHForum and Sun Times: Veal osso buco at Grotto. Was not expecting anything so marvelous. The delicate strings of hugely rich yet delicate meat, mounted around a magnificent bone (later used for veal stock) are what I keep thinking about as the weather gets colder.
Rodrick Markus, Rare Tea Cellar: More steak and more BBQ, really.
Liz Grossman, Plate: So many solid, well-known restaurants shutting their doors ... Spring, May Street Market, Café Matou, just to name a few.
David Tamarkin, Time Out Chicago: Laurent leaving L2O.
Julia Kramer, Time Out Chicago: The brief and wondrous life of David "Primo" R.
Nick Kindelsperger, Grub Street: I love barbecue, but even I was startled by the number of places that opened. I wish they were all as good as Lillie’s Q, but that’s a different question.
Heather Sperling, Tasting Table: An utterly lackluster meal at L20.
Penny Pollack, Chicago: The rise of artisans breadmakers and butchers.
Chris LaMorte, Urban Daddy: Davanti Enoteca
Natasha Liberman, a la card: That yet more cupcake bakeries opened up, and that not a single cupcake spot morphed into a donut shop.