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What was the Biggest Dining Surprise of 2009?

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As is the tradition at Eater, our closeout of the year is a survey of industry types, bloggers, and chefs. This year, we asked the group eight questions, from 2010 Headline Predictions to Top Standbys. All will be answered by the time we turn off the lights on Thursday. On we go, in no particular order; all responses cut, pasted and unedited:

cecconis.jpg
Inside Cecconi's.

Q: What was the biggest dining surprise of 2009?

Jonathan Gold, LA Weekly: The dullness of the most-lauded new restaurants. And the excellence of some of the temporary ones.

Eric Alperin, mixologist, The Varnish: When Matt Molina showed up at The Varnish with MOZZA To Go for me and the staff. I love that family...Church & State was pretty bad ass when I went on Halloween, It was the last night of Santa Barbra Spot Prawns and the way they served the escargot was off the hook. Jitlada: the best Thai food I have ever had in my life.

Jeff Miller, Thrillist: When Ciccone's opened, I was ready to write it off/never eat there, thinking it was going to be a scenester haven with barely-admissable food. I couldn't have been more wrong: I had a sumptuous dinner there, one that I won't forget any time soon.

Cedd Moses, restaurant/bar owner: Downtown.

Sam Nazarian, Hotel/Restaurant/Club mogul: THE BAZAAR at SLS HOTEL

Mark Peel, chef and restaurant owner, The Tar Pit: the sichuan beef tendon at Momofuku – I had no idea braised beef tendon could be this good.

Lesley Bargar Suter, Los Angeles Magazine: Despite the economy, a number of medium-priced restaurants remain packed. It just goes to show: exquisite food at a fair price will be rewarded.

Odell: A most unimpressive meal at Bouchon in Napa.

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