To close out 2006, Eater once again invited many of our favorite digital food correspondents to join us in assessing the year's best eats, biggest surprises, and favorite neighborhoods for dining out. With special thanks to all who participated, away we go with our first question; five more to follow over the next 24 hours.
[Boqueria, Kalina, 8/06]
1) TOP 3 RESTAURANT NEWCOMERS OF THE YEAR?
Ed Levine, Serious Eats: Little Owl, La Boqueria, Mai House.
William Tigertt, proprietor, Freemans: Little Owl, Royale, Café Cluny.
Josh Ozersky, aka Mr. Cutlets: Since I can't afford to eat at Robuchon or Gordon Ramsay regularly, I'll say Ssam Bar (for late night), Chinatown Brasserie (for the next morning), and Craftsteak, even with all its ups and downs.
Andrea Strong, The StrongBuzz: The Little Owl, A Voce, Buddakan.
Joshua David Stein, Gridskipper & Joanna Goddard, Bene Magazine: Little Owl: Underneath the hype and the Friends apartment, the restaurant renders understandable the trendiness of fresh seasonal product. Beatrice Inn: Paul can please foodie/hipsters like his sis can please Gallo. Pies and Thighs: Irony and BBQ don't mix so it's a good thing this Williamsburg just focuses on sauce and char.
Leslie Price, Time Out New York: L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon, Morimoto or Buddakan [for sheer size and impact], Dressler. Honorable mention: Gordon Ramsay, Le Cirque, Boqueria.
Augie, Augieland: Degustation, Boqueria, Varietal. [Next three Ssam, GRatL, Morimoto]
Jennifer Leuzzi, Snack: A Voce, L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon, Room 4 Dessert.
Zach Brooks, Midtown Lunch: SSam Bar. (Korean/Chinese food in burrito form. Delicious! I wish I worked in the East Village instead of Midtown. We need a Ssam bar instead of another Chiptole.) A Voce. (I'm not a fan of the atmosphere- but the food is awesome.) And for Midtown Lunch... best newcomer is a tie between Fika Sweedish Espresso Bar & Good Burger.
Nosher & HungryMan, NYCNosh: Kyotofu, Bocca Lupo, and Prosperity Dumpling.
Adam Kuban, SliceNY: 1 and 2.) On the pizza front: Lucali in Carroll Gardens and Grimaldi's at Aviator Field. With the former, we're looking at a possible legend-in-the-making inventing himself as he goes. With the latter, a legend reinventing himself as a by-the-slice pizza purveyor. 2.) On the burger front: the burger on the lunch menu at Prune. Is it cheating in that a dose of ground lamb gives this burger an over-the-top meaty flavor? Who cares. This thing is seriously juicy and rich.
Danyelle Freeman, Restaurant Girl: Hands down, L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon. Coming in a commendable second would have to be The Little Owl and though slightly controversial, I'm going to stick to my guns and go with Sasabune's "Trust me" omakase.
Deborah Schoeneman, New York: Ye Waverly Inn, The Box, Pinkberry.
BL: Despite the across-the-pond splash that Robuchon and Ramsay made this year, I think for locals it was a year of the small venue: Little Owl (the people's choice, and for good reason); Waverly Inn for reinventing the meaning of the term 'soft-open' (and because we got Waverly back to us better than ever), and Ssam Bar. Have David Chang's cured meats and bo ssam and then try to tell me differently.
LS: So much Little Owl love! Don't get me wrong, I had a great meal there, but didn't consider it a runaway smash. Anyway. My list: Frankie's 17, Chinatown Brasserie, Marshall Stack (not for the food, but because a tolerable new bar on the Lower East Side deserves the recognition).
Next: Top 3 Restaurant Standbys of the Year. Comments are open if you'd like to play along.