What was your biggest restaurant grievance in 2015?
Michael Nagrant, RedEye: It continues to be service. Last week I had better service at a vegan restaurant in the Wisconsin Dells than at 80 percent of all my Chicago dining experiences last year. Chicago's professional class of servers is dwindling alongside the casual eats revolution.
Anthony Todd, Chicagoist: Small, popular neighborhood joints, all over the city (see Provenance in Logan Square, half the businesses in Lincoln Square and bars all over Wicker Park) being driven out by greedy landlords. An entire city of slick bistros and Panera locations doesn't do a thing for our food scene.
Jeff Ruby, Chicago Magazine: I could say the same stuff I always do—ridiculous noise levels, pushy servers, menus built to trick diners—but in the end, one thing still bothers me more than anything else: chefs unwilling (or unable) to take chances. It's an epidemic.
Sarah Freeman, Zagat: This year felt safe in terms of new concepts and menus. Here's another steakhouse; here's another chef making house-made pasta. Not that there's anything wrong with a good piece of beef or the perfectly prepared noodle, but I'd like to see Chicago chefs take more risks.
Amy Cavanaugh, Time Out Chicago: Wonderful service at restaurants like De Quay, Boeufhaus and Swift & Sons made me realize just how important service is and how many places don't seem to prioritize it.
Sean Cooley, Thrillist: I thought I had blocked it from memory, but it has to be the food at Baocos. I wanted to throw my support behind the new restaurant at my local L stop; I left with a chemically aftertaste in my mouth and made a sandwich at home.
Michael Gebert, Fooditor: The small plates revolution has apparently resulted in a generation of chefs for whom the concept of a "meal," consisting of complimentary foods in a certain order, is alien. For instance, there is an absolutely gorgeous steak at Band of Bohemia. Try to find a side dish on the menu to go with it. No, I do not think grilled octopus or some sweetbreads is the equivalent of a potato or some broccoli.
Chandra Ram, Plate: Service. Chicago is known for having the best restaurant service in the country, but I had too many servers this year who didn't care if we lived or died while eating at their restaurants. Just refill my glass and pretend to care; that's all I ask.
Peter Frost, Crain's: Beer lists. While many places have beefed up their craft and local beer lists, the holdouts are still out there. I don't care if you're a steakhouse or in a tourist area. Get some local beer on tap. There are 144 breweries and counting in the Chicago area, and many of them are making really interesting, unique beers.
Chris LaMorte, UrbanDaddy: Skyrocketing prices. General declines in service standards. Share plates that don't have enough to share.
Phil Vettel, Chicago Tribune: Cook shortage makes consistent kitchen excellence an exclusive goal.