2013 was truly the best year of my life. And most of my best memories of the year include (or entirely revolve around) amazing meals.
Second Runner Up: After a lot of buzz and rumors of impossible reservations, we were lucky enough to walk in and get a seat at the bar at Chez Sardine. This sticks out in my memory both for the amazing, creative food and for the fun of watching them construct it while peering directly into the kitchen from our bar seats.
First Runner Up: After two amazing meals at WD-50 (still in the top 3 of all time meals) we were excited to try Chef Wylie Dufresne’s more casual new restaurant, Alder. Our entire meal was creative and great, but the chicken liver toast was a huge stand out that I still think about all these months later.
#10: Our honeymoon was filled with a bunch of absolutely amazing meals, but our meal at Le Pigeon in Portland, OR really stood out for its freshness and unique use of ingredients. The trout lox paired so incredibly well with the raspberries. An unexpected match made in heaven.
#9: We couldn’t wait to try Betony when it opened since it was from alumni of one of our absolute favorite restaurants, Eleven Madison Park. We fell in love with the “Tuna Melt” with melted fontina cheese and there was sculptural beauty (and flavorful beauty) in the Marinated Trout Roe. Any other year this could be a #1 restaurant, but not in 2013.
#8: While we couldn’t take pictures of the Brooklyn Fare Chef’s Tasting menu, you will have to trust me that it all looked and tasted delicious. We were very excited when they opened up a grocery store near our apartment in Manhattan and can’t wait to try their restaurant. The Uni with White Truffle was so incredibly amazing and made me fall in love with uni (after a lot of “what’s the big deal?” in the past).
#7: For our date anniversary dinner, Mike took us to Del Posto, where we enjoyed the beautiful place almost as much as we enjoyed the near flawless meal. It has certainly earned its stellar reputation as being a top restaurant in New York.
#6: In what world does The French Laundry in Napa Valley, CA come in as #6 for the year? I still am in a bit of disbelief that we didn’t love this famous restaurant even more. In the end, it was probably one of the most perfect meals I’ve ever had, but it just wasn’t surprising. But the oysters and pearls have truly earned their place in culinary history.
#5: Coming back from the honeymoon, we had one last hurrah at The NoMad in NYC. We tried the famous chicken, which had the audacity to not just be perfectly cooked with impeccably crispy skin, but also stuffed with foie gras and black truffle. It was every bit as good as I hoped it would be, as was the rest of the meal.
#4: Blanca was another Chef’s Tasting menu that didn’t allow us to take pictures of the meal (bummer), but this private room behind Roberta’s Pizza in Bushwick, Brooklyn offered surprises around every corner. There were more than 25 meticulous courses, including a stand-out king crab with plankton butter sauce and not a single bad dish in all 25.
#3: Anytime someone asks where they should go in NYC if they want a nice meal, I recommend Colicchio and Sons. It never fails to impress and we went back to see if the Tasting Menu could live up to our opinion from the previous time. Each dish built upon the last and they were all expertly crafted. I have especially fond memories about the uniqueness of the potato bavarois dome with Hackeback caviar and vodka cream with homemade potato chips.
#2: A huge surprise was how much we fell in absolute love with Canlis in Seattle, WA during our honeymoon. Every dish was great and service was so warm and so welcome. It’s hard to pick a favorite part of this meal, but I still remember how much I enjoyed their preparation of foie gras with homemade brioche to spread it on.
#1 (THE #1): I was so excited to finally try Chef Grant Achatz’s Alinea in Chicago, IL at the very end of the year. Every moment of this meal was special and fun and incredibly delicious. Even if it hadn’t been as entertaining and creative, the taste of the food alone would have made this the meal of the year. The rest, and especially the cleverness, made this the meal of a lifetime. The best meal we have ever, ever had. The white truffle risotto that they brought out as a special treat was hands down the most amazing thing I have ever eaten. It is worth a special trip to Chicago just to have the good fortune of eating here.
We are so incredibly fortunate. Thank you, 2013.