Every year, we compile our favorite meals of the previous 12 months. (For previous years, check here: 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, and 2009). It is always hard to choose the best, and this year especially so when 2013 ended with our number one meal of all time at Alinea in Chicago, and then 2014 started with the previous #1 (and still #1 in NYC), Eleven Madison Park for the second time. But enough about previous tops, and onto the tops of 2014:
As for great food that weren’t specific restaurants, I had an incredible experience at the New York Magazine Taste Event, getting to sample a bite from some of the best restaurants around the city. My favorite recipe that I shared (and have now baked over and over again) was the Nutella Stuffed Salted Chocolate Cookies (note: I have since removed the caramels and find the recipe is perfect even without this extra indulgence). And then my favorite day of the year is the day we went on a veritable treasure hunt around NYC to #followtherabbit to get free cronuts and cookie shots from Dominique Ansel in honor of his cookbook launch. What an amazing time!
As for our top 10 Restaurants of 2014…
#10: The NoMad Bar
We had a great meal at The NoMad (#5 on the Top Noms of 2013) and we were excited to see that they launched a slightly more casual (and very sexy) “Bar” version. We have since been back a few times and each time we enjoy the food and the cocktails, which are very expensive but some of the best in the city. It’s hard to beat as a place to impress guests or a date.
We had heard the rumbling about the new restaurant from Mario Carbone, Rich Torrisi and Jeff Zalaznick, Carbone. The buzz about the Veal Parm was especially loud, referencing the ridiculous price ($54) and the equally ridiculous deliciousness. The veal was certainly delicious, but it was actually the amazing pasta dishes that pushed this into the top 10.
#8: Brunch at DBGB
We were surprised at how much we enjoyed brunch at DBGB, though I really shouldn’t have been since I have always been a big fan of David Boulud restaurants. We have enjoyed ourselves at many including Boulud Sud (#6 on the 2012 Top Noms List) Daniel (#3 on the 2011 Top Noms List), Cafe Boulud (#5 on the Top Restaurant Week list), and Bar Boulud (a favorite brunch spot). Our brunch at DBGB was with a big group and everyone left raving about the food, and the French Toast was the best I’ve ever had.
We had a great time at the pop-up preview of Root & Bone in 2013 and then visited the new permanent location in the East Village during the first few weeks of opening. It was opened by Top Chef alums Jeffrey McInnis and Janine Booth and brought us the fried chicken that no one can stop talking about. I loved the corn dish (which combined “Grilled Sweet Corn Cob… Husk and All” with cornbread butter, giant hominy, and popped corn) though I’ve heard that it’s not as consistent from other reviewers. I also adored the short rib meat loaf. I loved that the menu had a lot of memorable dishes that were a little bit different.
Another surprising meal was at Bodega Negra in Chelsea. Perhaps it’s because I don’t get to eat Mexican food very often due to my allergy, so this was novel. But the dessert alone put this squarely in the top 10 and it was an incredibly memorable meal. (Video of the dessert’s metamorphosis here)
I love a Peking Duck dinner. Something about that crispy duck with all the fixins wrapped in the little pancakes just make me happy. But this dinner was pretty epic in that not only was the duck dinner included, but also 4 small plates, 2 main dishes, and 1 fried rice or side dish. The grilled wagyu beef pieces are still a taste memory stuck on repeat in my brain and it’s a great meal to share with food loving friends.
A restaurant I have recommended again and again is all’onda. Eater called it the biggest restaurant opening of 2014 and we could not disagree. Each dish was very unique and had a special flare to it that everyone really enjoyed. We loved the sea urchin pasta (which I think has gone off and on the menu a few times depending on availability) and I still think of the arancini balls with beautiful squid ink rice.
#3: Sushi Nakazawa
What a surprise! Mike made an impressive choice for my surprise birthday dinner and our meal was fantastic from start to finish. A whole lot of chef chosen sushi in the Omikase, with the uni that will forever leave me chasing that uni dragon. Do yourself a favor and make a reservation, be sure to watch Jiro Dreams of Sushi before you go, and then visit this restaurant to taste what Chef Daisuke Nakazawa learned after a 10-year apprenticeship at one of the best sushi restaurants in Japan.
#2: Per Se
After quite the exciting meal at The French Laundry during out honeymoon, it was hard to resist trying Per Se on our first wedding anniversary. I was excited just to be in this NYC institution, and I could not wait to wrap my tongue around the Oysters and Pearls dish again, a tiny bowl of heaven that is famous in both locations. While still not as great as other restaurants we have loved, it was undeniable why this is commonly referred to as one of the best (and most special) restaurants in New York City. The meal was perfect (just like our French Laundry meal) but not quite as creative as some of our favorites. Still #2 for the year!
#1: Liquid Art House
The surprise of the year. I went to Boston on business but was able to spend my first night in the city with a good friend. A quick search of top restaurants in the city near the Boston Back Bay station led me to Liquid Art House. The space opened in May of this year and it was incredible and impressive with art hung like a gallery. The food is also a work of art on each plate. Usually you expect food that beautiful to be more aesthetic than substance, but the food absolutely, 100% delivered. Each flavor was incredible and the ingredients were so fresh. I was actually suffering extensively from morning sickness during this meal, but I managed to enjoy every single bite. I wish I had room for dessert, because I can only imagine what creations they came up with, but I left this meal in awe of how much I enjoyed it. I also just found out that Chef Stacy Cogswell from the current season of Top Chef (the Boston native) just came into the kitchen under Executive Chef Rachel Klein. Since we do love our Top Cheftestant restaurants, I look forward even more to bringing Mike back to try this place as soon as we can make a trip back to Boston.
Another incredible year of eats! I cannot help but reflect back on how fortunate we are that we get to live this life. We joke that our biggest fear for our baby is that he will not love food. But I have to think that can’t possibly be feasible with us as parents. We just love this way too much.
Thanks for another great year!
Onto the adventures of 2015.