Q: What was the biggest dining surprise of 2014?
Sarah Freeman, Zagat: Whatever on Earth happened at Cicchetti. It seemed like that restaurant had everything working in its favor — great chefs, solid bar program, good reviews — but the location and whatever other forces were working against it led to some of the more shocking chef shuffles of the year followed by its closing.
Michael Nagrant, RedEye: Bohemian House — There's a better chance of me becoming BFF with ABC's Hungry Hound than there is of discovering a burgeoning top Chicago chef (Jimmy Papadopoulos) cooking neo-modern Czech fare amidst the drunken piano bar-visiting tourists, but, indeed, the latter happened.
Amy Cavanaugh, Time Out Chicago: 42 Grams. Before we went to dinner, I told my date that it would either be the worst meal we've ever had, or the best. Thankfully, it was the latter.
Chris LaMorte, UrbanDaddy: The short (happy?) life of Cicchetti. PurplePigGate.
Mike Gebert, Reader: I don't think it should have surprised anyone that Jake Bickelhaupt or Beverly Kim should make great things. Probably my biggest surprises were all fried chicken that I ate for various articles I did for Thrillist. Evanston Chicken Shack, Fork and a place on 75th street called Five Loaves Eatery all do fantastic fried chicken, with or without waffles.
Melissa McEwen, Chicagoist: How delicious some of Rootstock's new dishes are.
Penny Pollack, Chicago Magazine: The closings of L2O and Takashi.
Chandra Ram, Plate: Sudden shuttering of Michelin-starred restaurants like Takashi and Senza. Sad to see.