As is the tradition at Eater, our closeout of the year is a survey of friends, industry types, bloggers, and readers. We've already covered Top Standbys, Top Newcomers, Top Dining Neighborhoods, 2011 in one word and Biggest Dining Surprises. All will be answered by the time we turn off the lights at the end of the week. Responses are related in no particular order; all are cut and pasted herein.
Jessica Voelker, online dining editor, The Washingtonian (former lifestyle editor at Seattle Met): I had a lot of great food in 2011, but I have to say that salt-and-pepper crab that you and I ate at Monsoon was way, way up there. And my first experience at Revel was one of the happiest food nights in my life. It sounds altogether trite to say "my tastebuds were singing," but they totally were. We ordered most of the menu, and everything was perfect that night. Loved the shrimp and pork belly pancakes and short rib rice bowl especially.
Cocktail: Tie: This very negroni made by Andrew Bohrer, which I drank at the end of the Best Bars photo shoot was over. The drink was perfect, and it was the first time I could relax after 6 weeks working on that issue. Also, I had a daiquiri the evening I stopped by Canon on Murray's first days of work
and one of my last in Seattle. Memorable.
Allecia Vermillion, food and drink editor, Seattle Met: My husband and I threw down for our anniversary and did the full Jason Franey experience at Canlis. That was easily one of the top five meals I've eaten in my life.
Allison Scheff, food and dining editor, Seattle Magazine: It's a tie: At La Medusa on a whim with my husband, and since they were packed we ate at that tiny sliver of a bar next to the front door. Caponata, great Italian wine with a little age on it for just $30, and the special, which was a 40oz steak cut from a beef quarter they'd gotten in from a farm in Tieton that day. What I loved is that they did so little to pretty up the meat, they just cut from the outside through the ribs and into all this fatty goodness, so you got backstrap and rib meat and rare meat next to the bone, plus little pockets of fat--this was a real caveman steak--and it was finished with a sauce of capers, anchovy and garlic. But just a little, just enough to keep you guessing. It was incredible. Best steak in years, possibly ever.
Also: An (not my!) expense account blowout at Sushi Kappo Tamura's sushi bar. What I remember from the check: somehow the three of us ate 15 orders of king salmon belly sashimi, and that was before we really got rolling. Glad that, for once, I wasn't picking up that check.
Surly Gourmand: Everything at Book Bindery is magnificent. The decor is elegant. The cocktails are superb. The service is super friendly, yet manages to remain professional. And the Mashima Ranch "Flavor Curve" is a retardedly delicious steak. Book Bindery is, for these and many other reasons, the purveyor of my Favorite Meal of 2011.
Lisa Kennelly, There's a hipster in my latte: I went to noma this year (#humblebrag) so I think I’m legally obligated to say that was the best meal.
Naomi Bishop, The GastroGnome: Well, it was in Mexico City (place called Izote), but I’m guessing you meant in Seattle. In which case it was the Crawfish Boil, thrown by Where ya at Matt at Nectar. Nothing fancy, just a shit-ton of craw-daddy’s, solid beer and some great gumbo. A good party and a delicious meal.
Amy Pennington, author of Urban Pantry and Apartment Gardening: You know, it's nearly pedestrian for me to say so, but I just had an AMAZING cocktail at Sambar a few weeks ago. I asked for something bitter and digestiv-like and they concocted this sipper with Amaro & Sherry & Tequilla. It was a simple, yet complicated drink. Perfection in a glass.
My best meal was on the night of my book release, I went to Bisato with a friend. He wore a suit, I wore a dress and it felt appropriate for the room - glamorous. Seattle is so casual, it hurts me sometimes. I'm almost embarrassed to say, but it was my first time there. After the second plate, I was over the moon. The food is perfectly plated, your setting is always clean, everything is choreographed and so dinner flows perfectly. And the food is exquisite. You can tell a chef with real skill is cooking - the execution is flawless. We had many things - Smoked salmon and a beet pancake, a pasta sheet with octopus puttanesca (!), prawns with citrus and capers - it sounds simple but it is impeccable. This is reminding me I need to get back there as soon as I can!