My Top 25 Restaurant Meals of 2009

So much for 2009 being a culinary waste land. With the Recession in
full swing and even very good restaurants seemingly dropping like
flies, the year was supposed to be a total disaster on the food-scape.
Instead, this may have been the greatest year of dining in my life,
even without having dined at two of my all-time favorites elBulli and
Alinea. The recession was clearly in evidence with much more casual
dining, but quality, fortunately stayed high. Part of the reason,
actually a good part of the reason for such a high quality dining year for
me, was that it was a milestone year for me personally and with the
advent of my blog, I endeavored to do more because of it. In
addition, the opportunity to attend The Bocuse D'Or in Lyon was one
that I couldn't pass up and I'm glad I didn't. It was unforgettable
both as an event and for its dining opportunities. Madrid Fusión and
Starchefs once again provided great opportunities for dining as well as
blog material. Typically, I have some local restaurants in my top 25.
They were no less wonderful this year than in the past (in some
instances they may have even been better), but the meals above them
were simply too many and too special to top.

Though I might have
eaten more than one exceptional meal at a given restaurant, I have only
listed it once at its highest position. Many things go into play when
compiling a list as personal and subjective as this, including the
food, the decor, the occasion and my dining partners, with all contributing
to the ultimate magic of the meal.

  1. Senzone
  2. Aldea
  3. The Four Seasons
  4. Ideas (in Food) in the Studio Kitchen
  5. Corton
  6. Per Se
  7. Le Bernardin
  8. Stella!
  9. Eleven Madison Park
  10. Kabuki Wellington
  11. La Mere Brazier
  12. Principe de Viana
  13. Soto
  14. Cafe Boulud
  15. Momofuku Ssam Bar
  16. Noca
  17. Paul Bocuse
  18. Los Asturianos
  19. Toro by Ken Oringer
  20. Taranta
  21. Bayona
  22. Falai
  23. Gramercy Tavern
  24. Frank Pepe's Pizzeria Napolitana
  25. Keste

What were some of your top meals of 2009? How, if at all, did the Recession effect your dining experience for the year?


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10 Responses to My Top 25 Restaurant Meals of 2009

  1. My top 10 most memorable restaurant experiences of 2009 in no particular order:
    Marea (NYC)
    Eleven Madison (NYC)
    Locanda Verde (NYC)
    Il Cascinalenuovo (Isola d’Asti,IT)
    Minetta Tavern (NYC)
    Pasta Nostra (Norwalk, CT)
    La Ciau del Tornavento (Treiso,IT)
    Garde Manger (Montreal)
    Morimoto (NYC)
    Paul Bocuse (Lyon, FR)

  2. Gerry Dawes says:

    No Casa Lucio in your top 25! That will cost you!

  3. Michael T. says:

    Thanks for sharing, Dr. John!
    Here is my list of top 2009 meals:
    1. Corton – Dinner (NYC)
    2. Per Se – Lunch (NYC)
    3. Gramercy Tavern – Dinner/Tavern (NYC)
    4. DB Bistro Modern – Dinner (NYC)
    5. Sushi Yasuda – Lunch (NYC)
    6. Modern – Dinner (NYC)
    8. Eleven Madison Park – Lunch (NYC)
    9/10. Gramercy Tavern -Dinner/Dining Room (NYC)
    9/10. Eleven Madison Park – Dinner (NYC)
    11. Al’s Seafood Restaurant – Lunch (Baltimore, MD)
    12. Aldea – Dinner (NYC)
    13. Marea – Dinner (NYC)
    14. 112 Restaurant – Dinner (Minneapolis)
    15. Huong Viet – Dinner (Falls Church, VA)
    As you can see, most of the best meals I had this year were in NYC, bad economy kept me away from San Francisco and Europe.

  4. John Sconzo says:

    The absence of Casa Lucio on the top 25 does not reflect poorly on that great meal. Rather, it illustrates just how great these meals really were!

  5. The recession certainly didn’t affect my dining itinerary in 2009! Most memorable meals of the year, for me, were Alinea, Tojo’s (Vancouver), the sadly now-defunct Tailor (NYC) and Atelier (Ottawa). Second-tier would be Wellington Gastropub (Ottawa), Chambar (Vancouver), and Mildred’s Temple Kitchen (Toronto). A visit to Momofuku Noodle Bar was hit and miss on the food, though memorable in its own way.
    Best cocktail experiences of the year were PDT (NYC), The Violet Hour (Chicago) and The Diamond (Vancouver). I’m hoping to start 2010 off right with a visit to Barchef in Toronto.

  6. ChadM says:

    Have you had the tasting menu at Alinea (Chicago), Joel Robuchon (LV), Per Se (NYC), or Blue Hill at Stone Barn (Tarrytown)? I highly recommend all of these.
    Some other fun tasting menus that I also recommend have been Michael Mina (LV), Guy Savoy (LV), Degustation (NYC), WD 50 (NYC), Momofuko Ko (NYC), The Modern (NYC), La Bernardin, (NYC), JT Baker’s (previously in Greenwich), Dale Miller (Albany), Kaz Sushi Bistro (DC), and DaBa (Hudson).
    Another experience that I highly recommend is the Chef’s Table at Allred’s restaurant at the top of Telluride Mountain. I am in search of more Chef’s Tables!

  7. John Sconzo says:

    Chad, I love chefs tables as well! I have eaten at a number of the places you mention, but not all. Too many great restaurants and not enough time (or money)!

  8. ChadM says:

    Just found out the Wine Bar & Bistro on Lark Street in Albany has a Chef’s Table. We can’t wait to get a group together to go!
    http://www.winebaronlark.com/

  9. In no particular order–
    Marea ( NYC)
    Ko ( NYC)
    Alinea ( CHI)
    Guy Savoy ( VEGAS)
    Il Duomo ( Ragusa)

  10. John Sconzo says:

    All great restaurants by reputation. Of these, I have only been to Alinea and Il Duome. Alinea is one of my absolute favorites and my meal at Il Duomo about 7 years ago was wonderfully memorable. Thanks for sharing!

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