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From Salsify Soup to Bacon and Egg Custard, Friends of Eater Recall Their Single Best Meals of 2014

As is the tradition at Eater, our closeout of the year is a survey of friends, industry types, and bloggers. Before we flip the switch on 2014, we asked the group eight questions running the gamut from Top Restaurant Newcomers to Biggest Dining Surprises and we're be rolling out their expert opinions all week long.

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Altura
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EOY SmallQ: What was your best meal of 2014?

Julien Perry, co-founder, One Night Only Project

My most memorable, and certainly some of the best meals I had were courtesy of the pop-ups Shaun McCrain held for his upcoming restaurant, Copine. Not only was it the first time my One Night Only business partner and I were invited to actually sit down for a meal at the space where we usually hold our dinners, but the food blew me away. A "bacon and egg" custard made with rendered iberico pancetta fat that was mixed with maple syrup and beurre monte (and served in an egg shell) was perhaps my single favorite bite of the year. Plus, Shaun and his partner Jill are incredible professionals, who can make any night special.

Nicole Sprinkle, food editor, Seattle Weekly

The multi-course magic at the Willows Inn on Lummi Island.

Allison Scheff, food & dining editor, Seattle Magazine

There have been several really great meals of 2014, but the brunch I had at Bar Tartine in San Francisco, on my birthday, is the most memorable. I'm still waiting to have my best meal of 2014 in Seattle. Maybe I'm getting too hard to please?

Leslie Kelly, editor, Zagat Seattle; project manager, Tastemade Seattle

The finale of this year's Planes, Trains, Traveling Chefs series at Matt's in the Market featured a chef team from Memphis, Andy Ticer and Michael Hudman (Andrew Michael Italian Kitchen, Hog & Hominy), who I've known and adored since I lived down South. They seamlessly collaborated with chef Shane Ryan's team for a stunning meal that showed Southern cooking can be both down-home and wildly sophisticated.

Jameson Fink, wine blogger, Wine Without Worry podcast host

It was at Spur, a place I am always impressed with for its combination of style and substance on each plate. Do not skip dessert.

Surly Gourmand, "world's greatest food writer"

We dropped into Walrus & Carpenter one evening before hitting Grizzled Wizard and they fucking killed it with the homemade pickles and grilled sardine on toast with shaved fennel. We also got a big plate of jamon serrano but I realize that they did not cure this at Whale Wins so I really can't count it because anybody can slice some fucking ham.

Allecia Vermillion, food & drink editor, Seattle Met

My birthday omakase at Nishino. Course after course, everything was incredible. But mostly it was a reminder of how grown-up service can elevate a meal. In my line of work we follow new restaurants so breathlessly; I think a lot about how to keep longstanding places in the conversation.

Bethany Jean Clement, food writer, The Seattle Times

This year's lamb from my dad's cousin Gene, who raises them outside of Sunnyside (which is outside of Yakima), was better than any lamb he's ever raised before, and it's always been really good. A lamburger made from this lamb was the best burger I've ever had, and the chops, shanks, etc. also dramatically improved 2014. Thanks, Gene/lamb!

Nancy Leson, food writer, KPLU food commentator

The autumn dinner chef Nathan Lockwood and his crew prepared for a group of my gal pals. Among its (many) highlights: a Mediterranean mussel wrapped in pancetta and smoked with madrona bark; salsify soup with a shigoku oyster, pickled salsify greens and steelhead roe; Columbia City Bakery's filone baked in parchment with Perigord black truffle-butter, melted leeks and duck liver; and truffle-roasted elk loin with matsutake potato puree, roasted kale and bear's tooth mushroom.

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