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Dec 23, 2008 08:47 AM

Top 3 Meals of 2008?

Just curious to hear about favorite individual meals of 2008 at Boston-area restaurants. Actually, they don't have to be full meals--could be apps, desserts, etc.

Mine are probably (in order, more or less):

1) beef gulyas, Jasmine Bistro, Brighton (cubed beef and sliced potatoes in a bell pepper paprika sauce that pretty much knocked my socks off with its great blend of spices)

2) risotto fiorentina, Vecchia Roma, Newton (a delicious mix of creamy arborio rice, chicken, spinach, and parmesan cheese in a wine sauce)

3) falafel sandwich, Reef Cafe, Allston (tasty falafel balls mixed with pickles, tomatoes, yellow peppers, and tahini sauce, all inside a pita wrap)

I neglected to mention the thunder noodles at Mango II in Tewksbury and the Madeiran steak at Estoril in Fall River mainly because they are a bit outside of the area (especially Estoril). And a guilty pleasure was definitely the juicy, fatty, messy burger I had at Cappy's Tavern in Readville. It may have been the meal that put the biggest smile on my face over the past 12 months, but it's not exactly a Chow-ish place (or maybe it is!).

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  1. Funny, before I read your post the first one that popped into my head was also a Reef Cafe meal:

    1. Stuffed cabbage (stuffed with lamb, in a tangy tomato sauce, served with the usual outstanding sides, including Reef's perfect toum garlic paste) at Reef- these are heavenly light, about the size of a cigar. I can't bring myself to order anything else there, now.

    2. The mushroom/polenta appetizer at VeeVee in JP - crispy squares of polenta in a mushroom bolognese, with just the right amount of parmesan dusting. A great combination of textures and layers of savory goodness.

    3. Our meal at Angela's in East Boston, which was back in February so I can't recall exactly which mole we got. I'll just have to leave it at that, but it did make an impression and I'm sorry we haven't yet made it back...


    1. Ooh ooh, I'll play:

      1) Gran Gusto - stracciatella and speck appetizer, tartufata pizza (basically a margherita with black truffles baked in and shaved fresh on top), homamde tagliatelle with a simply extravagant sauce of butter, parmiggiano, garlic, and truffles.

      2) Craigie on Main's vegetarian tasting meal with "ringside seating" - course after course of sublime, innovative vegetarian dishes; not a single pasta dish all evening . Lovely, high-value wines, outstanding cocktails, and a riveting view into the kitchen helped make this one of the nicest dinners in recent memory.

      3) First time to O Ya - repeat trips have never quite measured up to the excitement of our first trip there, but wow, that first meal was unlike anything else I've ever had in the city. Subtle, unexpected, innovative, absolutely delicious.

      2 Replies
      1. re: finlero

        Just last Friday: egg ravioli and venison loin at Prezza.

        1. re: phatchris

          The egg ravioli at Prezza is like something magical happening in your mouth. There is simply no way to describe it. It has to be experienced.

      2. En Toon Mor Fai - Montien (thanks to the Phoenix recommendation)

        Spring Lamb sauteed and cooked with tomatoes and wine - Desfina

        Tiger's tears - Floating Rock

        1. 1. 9 course tasting menu at Clio in January. Course after course of innovative deliciousness.
          2. Chile verde at Ixtapa in Lexington. No kidding, this is just fabulous and we discovered it this year. I've probably eaten it 7 or 8 times at this point and it is consistently great.
          3. Omakase at O Ya. It was our first time there as well, and the entire experience was unique and exciting. We weren't in love with every morsel that came our way, but the ones that were great were really, really great. Will go back when not too hungry and order our favorites plus some new things to try. Probably wouldn't do the omakase again, but it was a good call for the first time out.

          1. Great question! Only three is tough:

            1. Last degustation of summer vegetables at the old L'Espalier, in the Front Room by the fireplace full of candles. So sorry to see that old space go, especially having seen the new space.

            2. Moroccan salad, beef brisket couscous with squash, zucchini and carrots, and braised lamb shanks with pignoli, caramelized onions and caramelized prunes at Oran Cafe. Also the widest gap between expectations on walking in (the room sure doesn't look like much) and what arrived at table.

            3. Omakase at o ya, a fairly modest one by their standards (12 small courses, ~$100/head); highlights included: raw Kumamoto oyster with watermelon pearls and cucumber mignonette; salmon tataki with hand-torched baby tomato, smoked salt, and onion aioli; kushiyaki of Wagyu (Kyushu Kagoshima) strip loin with roasted minced onion and yuzu kosho; Okinawan-style braised pork with beans, kimchee, and soy maple; and foie gras in chocolate/balsamic sauce topped with raisin and cocoa pulp served with a shot of aged sake. About two dozen well-paced little bites of satori.

            If I had room for more, I might mention the first hot dog with everything I had at Speed's after Greg changed the brand of frankfurter, but that was as much about relief as joy.