|My favorite picture of the year: sauteed shrimp at Estadio|
Anyway, here are our Best and Worst of 2012:
As always, we'll start with the worst. We could start with ourselves, and a mea culpa. As the years go on and we all move onward and upward with our careers and our lives, Official Co-Writer/Girlfriend of DCWD Texas and I, as well as oft-contributors CC and AP, find ourselves with less time to regularly update the site. We try where we can, but we apologize for how slow the posts come these days. We'll do better next year.
2012 was a great year for us food-wise, but there were still a few let-downs. District Commons gave us both overcooked and undercooked food, and then stupefied us with the way the host stand seats guests (to the point that we ended up leaving altogether). The Hamilton's food outright bored us. Sei was overpriced and over-the-top. And Crios was a bland and uninspired opening. But the overwhelming least favorite meal of the year by far was Belga Cafe. To this day, we still hold it up as an example of how Restaurant Week can turn even a lauded restaurant bad, how a dinner can go off the rails really quickly, and how certain things should never go together (the words beer, gelee, and rosemary come to mind). It makes every viewing of this season's Top Chef that much more sad, since we both like Chef Bart's personality a lot.
|Potomac Avenue pizza at Seventh Hill|
Our Favorite Dishes. Sometimes a dish just stands in out in your mind when you look back at a meal. Here are 15 dishes, in no particular order, that dazzled us this year:
Two separate dishes from Equinox from two separate meals that bracket the year made the cut: a dark chocolate custard topped with absinthe ice cream atop coffee soil and sea salt that kicked off the new year (1); and a stuffed agnolotti of ricotta cheese with caramelized onions and slow cooked cabbage in a white truffle butter and parmesan reggiano sauce (2). The former is notable as the only dessert on the list, the latter so recent I haven't even had a chance to write about it yet.
|Boar spoonbread at The Pig|
|Gnocchi at Graffiato|
|Foie gras at Blue Duck Tavern|
|Duck breast at Mintwood Place|
They're all great choices, really. All of them with their own unique claim to fame. But hands down, the best addition to the DC restaurant scene this year belongs to Mintwood Place. Classic, fun, with deep flavors and a consistently high level of flavor and service.
Union Market, which remains one of the bright spots in terms of fun places where you can spend a morning or afternoon. It's beautiful, bright, and has plenty of options to plop down with a significant other and just eat and chat. In first place though, is Society Fair. Maybe they do their demo dinners less frequently, and maybe the chef has changed since we went. But it's still one of the most thoroughly enjoyable experiences we've had, one that was as delicious as it was fun.
Favorite Meals. And now, in reverse order, the seven best meals of 2012:
(7) Palena. An oldie, but a goodie. Frank Ruta's roast chicken still reigns supreme, with some assists by a sharp ceviche and pillowy gnocchi.
|Lamb and clams at Rappahannock Oyster Bar|
(5) Volt. It may be a bit of a drive, but the trek is totally worth it. Intriguing and adventurous food from a humble and talented chef.
|Foie gras at Volt|
|Poached halibut at Eola|
(2) Birch and Barley. A consistently excellent meal from start-to-finish. Whether it's a creamy ricotta cavatelli to start, a chef's choice cut of lamb in the middle, or a dessert from best-pastry-chef-in-the-city Tiffany MacIsaac, you really can't find fault in any of the restaurant's seasonal and sustainable plates.
|Toki hakata at Toki Underground|