Welcome to Year in Eater 2017, Eater’s annual ritual of eulogizing the past 12 months through input from the city’s top food writers. For 2017’s final week, Eater NY will be posting questions daily about New York City’s restaurant scene in the past year, with answers from those who know it best: Eater editors and friends of Eater. Today’s topic: What was the best meal of 2017?
Amanda Kludt, Eater editor-in-chief: In New York I had a perfect dinner at Prune this year. They were fast without being pushy, nice but not sycophantic. The food was simple-seeming, but complex enough that I could never do it at home. Good cocktails, good wine, good food, and we were out in about an hour leaving time for a stop at the bar before relieving the babysitter. My perfect night. On the other end of the spectrum I had a downright lavish and indulgent and absolutely flawless holiday meal at the Grill last week.
Outside New York I had two of my favorite all-time tasting menu experiences at Septime in Paris and The Restaurant at Meadowood in Napa.
Kevin Nguyen, GQ senior editor: I don't want to be the asshole who says the omakase (though it was excellent and affordable at Sushi Katsuei), so I'll instead be the asshole that says the time I sampled three different mazemens and four thousand different sakes at Yuji Ramen.
Daniela Galarza, Eater senior editor: The dessert menu at Jungsik
Devra Ferst, Eater contributor: Tie: Giant in Chicago and Via Carota
Robert Sietsema, Eater NY senior critic: That’s a tall order, since I had so many great meals. My most recent candidate was Fausto, where a friend and I enjoyed a whole porgy roasted in a wood oven heaped with Kalamata olives.
Stefanie Tuder, Eater NY senior editor: I had a delightful dinner at the Vietnamese Hanoi House, filled with caring service, intensely flavorful food, and the type of buzzy atmosphere that makes me feel like I’m somewhere. We ate a bright and crunchy pig ear and papaya salad, a messy and satisfying beef tongue fried bread sandwich, and a lobster pho special with a stock so concentrated and sweet, I can only imagine how many lobsters gave their life to create it. As soon as we finished, I wanted to start again.
Ryan Sutton, Eater NY chief critic: Meson Castellano in the Canary Islands. I had to cut a summer cycling vacation short after bruising my left ribs and wrist badly (I slipped on the bathtub, a story that no one believes). And so on my last night, a Sunday night, when practically everything is closed in Tenerife, I limped over and ordered a giant plate of boiled octopus with boiled potatoes. They did all the slicing an seasoning tableside, lacing the gelatinous mollusk with a wallop fo chiles and vinegar. I could go on about the balance of flavors but let me just say I was grateful to be eating amazing food in an amazing place, and not be completely overwhelmed by pain. But since I’m a New York critic let me say that eating Christina Lecki's pureed pumpkin at the bar alone at Reynard on a snowy night was pretty great too.
Serena Dai, Eater NY editor: I went to The Grill twice, and both times were outrageously perfect and indulgent. But my actual best meal was outside of New York, sitting on the lawn of a muggy park in New Orleans with tall boys from a CVS and several bags filled with crawfish, shrimp, corn, and sausage.
Patty Diez, Eater editorial coordinator: Prune for dinner on my birthday with a friend. I think everything that can be said about this perfect little restaurant has been covered, and covered. The friendly staff and warm vibes are standalone reasons here, but please just eat literally anything on the menu.
Sonia Chopra, Eater director of editorial strategy: It's not a full meal, but I miss pastry chef Natasha Pickowicz's pistachio dacquoise cake all the time. I'm also so so happy Ugly Baby exists.
Mayukh Sen, Munchies staff writer: I ate very well when Gaggan Anand came to Chefs Club Counter in November. He totally enlivened Bengali dishes made with mustard seeds, banana leaves, et cetera in ways that just stunned me. I was texting my mom the whole time about it! (Bonus was that he graciously worked around my dumb fish allergy.) Honorable mention to my first corndog in seven years from Crif Dogs; it hit the damn spot.