As the curtain falls on 2012 (and the world has not ended) Eater surveyed a group of critics, writers, eaters, and more. We asked the group eight questions: everything from Top Standbys to Top Newcomers, from Best Meals to Restaurants Broken Up With. Everything will be revealed—cut, pasted, unedited and unadulterated—by the time the curtain raises for 2013.
Q: Were there any restaurants you broke up with in 2012 —e.g., places you stopped going to?
Julia Kramer, Time Out Chicago: The most disappointing meal that I had this year, by a landslide, was at Charlie Trotter's. Since the restaurant then closed, it's not really optional whether I would return, but I would never have gone back or recommended it to anyone after that.
Jeff Ruby, Chicago Magazine: We never really were going out, but a one night stand at Jerry's Sandwiches was more than enough for me. I wish the captains of mediocrity all the luck in the world, but I'll get my sandwiches elsewhere.
Chris LaMorte, Urban Daddy: Does Next Sicily count? As for the next Next...I'm not ruling out some pushing and shoving.
Joe Campagna, Chicago Food Snob: Broke up with, no. But there were a lot of bad first dates.
Carly Boers, Chicago Magazine: Piccolo Sogno. So over it.
Catherine De Orio, Culinary Curator: I wouldn't call it an actual break-up, as I'd still jump in the sack with Avec, but Au Cheval is the steadier choice these days. It had me at the duck heart hash.
Mike Gebert, Grub Street: No.
Sarah Freeman, Zagat: It takes a lot for me to completely cut ties – I'm looking at you Nellcote because of that two hour gap between ordering brunch and eating it – but one restaurant broke up with me along with the rest of Chicago. Morso's closure broke my heart. Maybe it was the comfy yet cool black-and-white décor, the medium-rare antelope, balanced cocktails or the soundtrack of 90s rock and dubstep; but I loved that restaurant.
Ellen Malloy, Restaurant Intelligence Agency: If there is one thing I'll remember about 2012 it is all the dining I didn't do, even though it seemed I was always out! I totally wish I had been to Vera a few more times. Nightwood, Fat Rice, Red Door, Wood, the new Hot Chocolate, Avec with Erling at the helm (hardest working most fanatically committed chef in Chicago, I'd say) -- all seemed to sit at the top of my "still have to do" list for much of the year. A lot of my year was heartbreaking in that way.
Robyn Nisi, Gapers Block: I don't break up with restaurants. I can find the good in any menu and will go back even if the service or meal is bad.
Lisa Shames, CS: No.
David Tamarkin, Time Out Chicago: Dunkin & Infused.
Penny Pollack, Chicago Magazine: The ones that broke up with us: Charlie Trotter's, Zealous, Sushi Wabi, Custom House, Bonsoirée, Duchamp, One Sixtyblue. Sorry to see them go.
Steve Dolinsky (The Hungry Hound), ABC 7: Gioco, Arun's, Coast.
Daniel Gerzina, Eater Chicago: The worst meal I had this year was at BLT American Brasserie, by far. Think peas in water-color residue. It's a holiday miracle that it's shuttered now.