A Look Back at My Top Restaurant Meals from Recent Years

In anticipation of a list of my top restaurant meals of 2010 that I plan on posting at the end of the year, I thought it would be fun and instructive to review my lists from the past few years including those that I posted on the eGullet Discussion Forums. My formats (and numbers) have varied over the years. Here they are as they were originally posted (in backwards chronological order)

2009

  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

 

2008

  1. Corton – NYC
  2. Ideas in Slow Food – Queensbury, N.Y.
  3. Alinea – Chicago
  4. Bartolotta – Las Vegas
  5. Asturianos – Madrid
  6. Europa Deco – Madrid
  7. Cafe Atlantico/minibar – Washington, D.C.
  8. Moto – Chicago
  9. Soto – NYC
  10. RM Seafood – Las Vegas
  11. Astrid y Gaston – Madrid
  12. Tailor – NYC
  13. Noca – Scottsdale
  14. Raku – Las Vegas
  15. Frontera Grill – Chicago

 

 2007

  1. elBulli Cala Montjol, Catalunya, Spain 4-May 
  2. Ca Sento Valencia, Spain 2-May 
  3. L'Esguard Sant Andreu de Llavanares, Spain 29-Apr 
  4. Blue Hill at Stone Barns Tarrytown, N.Y. 30-Mar 
  5. WD-50 N.Y., N.Y. 17-Sep 
  6. Fiamma N.Y., N.Y. 23-Nov 
  7. WD-50 N.Y., N.Y. 5-Jan 
  8. Huaca Pucllana Lima, Peru 24-Feb Lunch
  9. L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon Las Vegas, Nevada 23-Mar 
  10. Binkley's Scottsdale, Arizona 27-Mar 
  11. Wing Lei Las Vegas, Nevada 25-Mar 
  12. Levante Benisanó, Valencia, Spain 30-Apr 
  13. Bodegas Casa Montaña Valencia, Spain 30-Apr 
  14. Monastrell Alicante, Spain 2-May 
  15. Tailor N.Y., N.Y. 24-Nov 
  16. Coi San Francisco, CA. 16-Oct 
  17. Canteen San Francisco, CA. 18-Oct 
  18. Kokkari Estiatorio San Francisco, CA. 15-Oct 
  19. The Dining Room at the RC San Francisco, CA. 17-Oct 
  20. El Celler de Can Roca Girona, Spain 3-May 
  21. Las Machitas Cevicheria 20-Feb Cusco, Peru

2006

  1. Studio Kitchen 3/17/2006. link to dinner description with photos. An amazing combination of delicious, beautiful, creative food in a comfortable and intimate atmosphere, served by the food's creator and shared with nine other fascinating people (including the late M.X. Hassett) all the while savoring excellent wines at a steal of a price – what could be better? Shola Olunloyo stopped doing Studio Kitchen very shortly after or else this would likely have popped up several more times in my top ten.
  2.  Alinea 6/11/2006. link to dinner description with photos. The third time I have eaten at this restaurant and the only time (unfortunately) in 2006, it just keeps on getting better. Sharing this meal with Ronnie Suburban and Yellow Truffle added context, history and great companionship to the meal. It was also to be my last experience at Alinea with Alex Stupack and Jordan Kahn in the pastry kitchen and Joe Ziomeck in the FOH. They have moved on to other pursuits at which I have no doubt they will prove exceptional. Though their shoes are large, i have faith in Grant Achatz and the rest of the team at Alinea, my favorite restaurant in the United States.
  3. Jose Andres' Minibar 5/16/2006. link to dinner description with photos. If one can't have fun eating at this restaurant, one can't have fun eating. The food was beautiful, creative, playful and of course delicious at this cozy interactive restaurant set within a restaurant. things can't get any better for those diners who enjoy watching food prepaaration as theater and interacting with the preparers at the same time. It also didn't hurt that my wife and I shared this experience with Ruben Garcia and Llorenc Petras and their wives. I subsequently had the pleasure to get to know both a little better at a couple of culinary conferences.
  4. Jean-Georges 9/20/2006. link to lunch description with photos. Lunch at Jean-Georges is the most incredible value in fine dining (with the possible exception of dinner at El Bulli). The food is sensational and downright inexpensive ($12/course?). Sharing the meal with my great friend Joe Bavuso, his wife and a friend helped make this extra-special.
  5. Chez Panisse Cafe 3/30/2006. link to lunch description with photos This lunch culminated my California spring culinary odyssey with Elliot Wexler aka Molto e. The cooking and ingredients are just so pure and so right. There is a reason that this restaurant has lasted so long in this day and age of ephemeral restaurant life – the food is simply perfectly prepared and satisfying.
  6. The French Laundry 3/28/2006. link to dinner description with photos. My first of two visits to TFL in 2006, was all things considered the better overall experience. Though the second dinner was perhaps more uniform in quality from top to bottom, the highs were higher with this meal. My company was stellar both times, the first with Elliot and the second with my wife, the best man at our wedding and a friend of his. Ultimately, what probably made the difference in my enjoyment of the meals and my final ranking was the fact that the second time was the culmination of all day cross-country travel. In short, my wife and i were already exhausted by the time we arrived for dinner.
  7. Perry Street 9/18/2006. Link to dinner description – unfortunately no photos.There was a time not too long ago that I was one of those who thought that Jean-Georges Vongerichten had "jumped the shark." That was before Perry Street and my most recent meals at J-G. The food was vibrant, creative, beautiful and full of flavor. I partook of this dinner with my brother and my sister. Bruce Willis was at a neighboring table. He also must like Jean-Georges' style as I ran into him again two days later at J-G. Well, if JGV has jumped the shark, I am happy to say that he did so unscathed.
  8. Ame 3/26/2006. link to dinner description with photos.Sunday night dining is not supposed to be very good. I'm glad that nobody told that to the people cooking at this San Francisco star. Once again, this meal was with Elliott and was the first of our culinary tour together. A strong friendship rose from this.
  9. Pujol 3/9/2006)My wife's and my Culinary Trip to Mexico in March was not only a highlight of 2006 for us, it was also one of the best trips of our lives. The food was fabulous, but much of it was not restaurant based. Of those that were, Pujol was outstanding; providing a modern touch overlaid on traditional Mexican cuisine. It was a fitting finale to an outstanding vacation.
  10. El As de Oros 3/7/2006.Also from the Mexico trip, this was street food at its finest, though it was located in a market stall in Puebla. The cemita milanesa may have been the single best sandwich I have ever eaten. 

2005

  1. El Bulli 28-Aug
  2. Alinea 3-Dec
  3. Alinea 21-May
  4. Citronelle 22-Apr
  5. WD-50 10-Dec
  6. Erlowest 22-Jan
  7. Jean Georges 9-Dec
  8. Jaleo 20-Apr
  9. Rafa's 29-Aug


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