Welcome to Eater's annual year-end survey of friends, industry types, media, and readers. This year, we asked the group seven questions, from Best Newcomers to Top Standby, and all will be answered by the time we turn off the lights on Wednesday. The responses are in no particular order:
Osteria Mozza still topping lists [Photo: Alen Lin, 7/07]
Q: What was your most memorable meal of the year? (good and/or bad)
Jonathan Gold, LA Weekly: I am still reeling from Paul Shoemaker's virtuoso performance at Bastide. I am also still reeling from meals at Gordon Ramsay and BLT Steak, but not in the good way.
Brad Johnson, Angeleno: Best overall meals/total experience (in LA) were another flawless, 4-hour dinner at Urasawa (and the most sake I’ve ever consumed!), and a 12-course tasting menu at The Dining Room at The Langham (everything from the caviar taco to the deconstructed carrot cake was sublime).
Jeff Miller, Thrillist: This is a tie: my birthday dinner was a mystery menu at Fraiche...we had insane dish after insane dish, none of which was on the menu, most of which I've forgotten 6 months later, all of which were outstanding. Another was South Korean day with Man Bites World where I experienced live octopus, lobster, and abalone; watched 11 people's shocked faces as they bit into the brimy, iodine-laced sea squirt, and ate bowl after bowl of firey-hot monkfish stew. Possibly one of the best dining experiences I've ever had.
Lesley Bargar, Los Angeles Magazine: Good: Three-way tie between the vegetarian tasting menu at Mélisse, one crazy night with a plate of pappardelle at Little Dom’s, and Palate—which gave me the best meal all year, twice. Bad: Frida at the Americana at Brand. Unripe avocado...er, my favorite.
Rich Alossi, Angelenic: In 2008 I was a man of the people. I was also stricken by poverty (a blogger's salary, y'know?). Korean BBQ at Soot Bull Gui Rim #2, al pastor at Carnitas Michoacan. The duck confit at Church & State was definitely a high point.
Caroline on Crack: Best dinner was at Osteria Mozza (minus the quail) -- that burrata with bacon and gnocchi with duck ragu.
Lonny Pugh, UrbanDaddy: It ain't over yet.
Food Marathon: Best meal Vegas was Guy Savoy. Best meal LA was the Spiciest Food Marathon.
H.C., LA & OC Foodventures: Definitely Spago's tasting menu, which had several solid, memorable savory courses such as chestnut/mascarpone agnolotti with white truffle shavings and seared scallop with red thai curry pad thai.
Josh Lurie, Food GPS: For 2008, my top L.A. meal was probably at Rustic Canyon. Chef Evan Funke seamlessly transitioned from Spago and delivered a terrific market-driven dinner in September.
Noah Galuten, Man Bites World: In the midst of eating all sorts of cheap, exciting and challenging foods, getting to sit down with my girlfriend at a restaurant that had a table cloth and glasses with stems, then being served a truly delightful chef's tasting menu of old school French food, with wine pairings, at Tradition by Pascal in Newport Beach, may have been the single-meal highlight of the year.
Marissa Gluck, Curbed LA: It was probably at Lucques or A.O.C. Had an amazing handmade noodle, braised duck and mustard breadcrumb dish at Lucques last week. My meal at Noodle House was a revelation.
Alissa Walker, Gelatobaby and Eater LA guestblogger: Walking to Scoops for lunch.
Lesley, Eater LA: Too many: One of my first trips to Animal, fried quail and anything with bacon vinaigrette. Not one meal, but a whole day of meals through the San Gabriel Valley with Man Bites World and a group of complete strangers was, by far, my most memorable eating event ever. A really lovely dinner at Hatfield's. Total flashback fun at Hungry Cat's Maryland crab fest. And a personal highlight: Osteria Mozza, but this time with an uncle visiting from Ohio, not the most adventurous eater. I ordered my favorites, he ate everything, loved it, and then excitedly called my aunt to tell her he ate octopus, arugula, oxtail, and grilled cheese (apparently his most hated; can't believe we're related). Just a cool moment.
Please, do feel free to add your own in comments.