Chowfinds of the Year (or two)
How about a year end wrap-up? Name your city and your candidate for the most important chowhoundish discovery there in 2008 (or 07, since we didn't have a list for last year AFAIK). Don't forget an explanation. I'll start:
City: Columbia, SC
Chowfind: Heather's Artisan Bakery. I believe that her business got up and running in 2007, but it really did not take off until this year, so I am counting it for this year, alright? In my view, her breads are the most important culinary achievement for Columbia, SC in recent years. This says something about Columbia (there were no truly good local bread bakeries), but don't let that detract from the quality of her breads. They are great. As I've said before, her ciabatta is one of the best breads I've ever tasted. That said, I will say that more bakery competition would be welcome in Columbia, so bakers if you are out there do not be daunted by Heather's success: you, too, could help satisfy the bread-hungry masses.
Town House in Chilhowie, VA
Chef John Shields and Chef Karen Urie, sous chef at Alinea and executive pastry chef at Charlie Trotter’s, respectively, before going to Town House a year ago, are performing magic in the southwestern corner of Virginia. Owners Tom and Kyra Bishop opened this restaurant in 2002 to bring dining emphasizing quality ingredients and preparations to this part of the state and built a loyal following over time. But, a year ago, they brought in Chefs Shields and Urie to take the cuisine a quantum leap forward to the level of America’s, if not the world’s, best restaurants. My total dining experience was transcendent, and I expect many of my other fine-dining experiences in the future will pale by comparison. At $78 for the seven course tasting (with extras) plus $35 for wine pairings, it was a steal.