Time for a look back at the brilliant, disastrous and generally delicious events of the past twelve months. Overall, it’s been a good year, full of openings, delightful surprises and some pretty darned tasty meals. But it’s also been a year of controversy and disappointments. Check out some of BiteClub’s favorite moments:
10. Ubuntu: Despite its odd mix of yoga and meatless dining, this Napa newcomer has become a critical darling after two former Manresa chefs work their magic on Brussels sprouts and radishes. See a photo gallery of the food
9. West County Grill: Though it opened with much fanfare and hope, reviews have continued to be mixed for Chez Panisse alums. Has celeb-chef Jonathan Waxman left the building?
8. Starks Steakhouse: The most anticipated opening of the year? Terri Stark’s new steakhouse venture. The owners of Monti’s, Willi’s Wine Bar, et al have been working hard on this venture for months, with promised opening dates throughout the fall. Dinner is rumored to begin service in early January. Will it live up to the hype?
7. Odyssey: Chefs go ga-ga over former Gramercy Tavern chef, Rudy Mihall, who opened his upscale bistro in Windsor this July. BiteClub looks forward to hearing more about this young chef, who’s destined for big things.
6. Rosso: With a menu that reads like a Sicilian love letter, former Tra Vigne Chef John Franchetti’s newly opened Rosso Pizzeria & Wine Bar ain’t your average pie shop. The remodeled space in Santa Rosa’s Creekside Center focuses on paper-thin prosciutto, fresh-made tapenades, signature salads, antipasti and bubbling wood-fired pizzas.
5. Sometimes things don’t work out quite the way you plan them. After a solid opening, a menu mix-up at Toyo stirs up serious gall with readers. And don’t get me started on the whole fish and chips debate.
4. Oxbow Market: Despite the fact that there’s still plenty to be done, I’m stoked about the new market in Napa, bringing together the best of Wine Country.
3. Two of my favorite meals of the year were in Chicago, at the very forward-thinking Alinea and Moto. Not to slight Wine Country, of course. But come on, bacon on a trapeze?
2. The biggest surprise of the year was how far The General’s Daughter has come. Sonoma’s comeback kid got a serious facelift in the kitchen by southern boy, Preston Dishman.
1. And my very favorite moment of the year: Your comments. Okay, maybe that’s a bit of a cop-out, but I couldn’t do this column without you. Big shouts out to Mike, Bonnie, Phyllis, Wojamo, Vince, MsSteak, Denaruth, all the chefs who’ve put up with me, my boss Leigh who encouraged me to do this in the first place, the patience of Diane, and to everyone else who’s kept me on my toes, corrected me, cheered me on and generally made BiteClub a hell of a lot of fun.
I lift my fork to each and every one of you.