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Bruni Names Ssäm Bar Best of 2007; Wakiya, FR.OG Most Disappointing

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Bruni's year -end wrap drops today, and with it the most influential critic in the land weighs in on the Year 2007 in restaurant eating. Broad strokes: "I was struck by how seldom I found myself in stylish showpieces beseeching rapt attention, how often I visited humbler, more peculiar haunts. That’s where the buzz was. Much of the talent, too."

His pick for best new restaurant of the year is a little place of which you may or may not have heard in passing, Momofuku Ssäm Bar; his biggest disappointments are Wakiya, FR.OG, Monkey Bar and Varietal. By naming Ssam Bar his favorite, Bruni's bigger, less explicitly stated, point is that 2007 was dull. Ssam Bar is 2007-eligible on a technicality: the menu overhaul heard 'round the world happened days into 2007, a full three months after the restaurant opened (for kicks, here's the 2006 menu that started it all). With all due respect to sweet goodness that is Ssäm Bar, if better restaurants had opened in 2007, and a Best crutch was not needed, it would have been relegated to the ranks of 2006.

Here are Bruni's Top 10 for 2007:

1. Momofuku Ssäm Bar: "It’s tempting to choose something else, given how much acclaim has come to Momofuku’s chef and co-owner, David Chang. But Ssäm Bar, which began full dinner service in January, deserves top honors for its inventive, flavor-packed dishes and its rebelliousness in dispensing with the trappings that usually accompany such sophisticated food."

2. Soto
3. (TIE) Anthos
3. Insieme
5. Park Avenue Winter/Spring/Summer/Autumn
6. Resto
7. 15 East
8. Allen & Delancey
9. Pamplona
10. Mai House

· 2007: Let's Eat, Not Fuss [NYT]
· The 10 Best New Restaurants [NYT]
· Disappointing Restaurants [NYT]
· Impressive Transformations [NYT]
· Best New Dishes [NYT]

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