My list of top restaurants for the year is always paired with a second list ~ my dining wish list for the upcoming year. These are all restaurants I've yet to try, and a lot of research and careful choosing comes into play when creating this list. I look at factors such as type of cuisine, atmosphere, accolades and awards, chef biographies, and other press and public reviews. Twelve spots make the list, one for each month, which is typically feasible. I admit I didn't get to all 12 of my Dining Wish List last year, which is why some restaurants appear here again. I chalk it up to many group dinners where I wasn't able to choose the restaurant ~ need to work on that. :)
So without further adieu, in no particular order, my top 12 restaurants to dine at for 2012:
Ruxbin ~ this uber small bistro takes influence from Chef Edward Kim's Asian heritage and French techniques, and that's my favorite kind of fusion (think the retired Spring, or Bonsoiree). I'm seriously excited ~ just read the menu and you will be too.
Schwa ~ this will be the year I taste the genius of Chef Michael Carlson. With it's ever-changing menu and overlooked storefront facade, I'm anticipating some of the most artistic of meals I've ever experienced. And food as art ~ let's have it.
Next ~ I'll admit, I was initially unsure on the whole concept of Next, as the ticketing process makes one jump through a lot of hoops. But after many high marks from respected parties, I'm on the bandwagon to give it a go. Or at least try to, if I can score a seat.
Bar TOMA ~ I've been to Bar TOMA to sip incredible espresso, and am looking forward to going back to dine. Tony Mantuano's newest venture is already buzzing, and it's not just because there are caffeinated espresso aficionados inside. A mozzarella bar and gelateria? Yes please.
Longman & Eagle ~ This place has long been calling my name. My first attempt met my party with a three hour wait (so we bailed), which I think may have discouraged the husband but not me. I'm happy to see the farm-to-table, nose-to-tail aesthetic hasn't lost any ground.
Takashi ~ Yes, I know, another small French Asian fusion place makes the list? Shocker. Chef Takashi Yagihashi continues to receive praise for his noodles, and I intend to see why in this flagship restaurant. Heard of Slurping Turtle? Takashi is the mastermind there too.
Nellcôte (to open in Feb) ~ Attached to what will be called RM Champagne Salon, Nellcote boasts a "Rock 'n' roll bohemian chic" atmosphere with "obsessively hand-made European inspired fare". Enough said? I thought so.
GT Fish & Oyster ~ Seeing as though my favorite food is seafood, I am dying to check this place out. Let's see if the Lobster Roll beats out Thomas Keller's from Ad Hoc. I think it will.
Telegraph ~ The team behind Webster Wine Bar and Bluebird opened Telegraph this past summer, and seeing as though I've enjoyed many a good meal at their previous two places, I expect no less from here. A seasonal highly-organic menu with extensive wine list? Sounds like a great night out to me.
Farmhouse ~ Farm-to-table translated so literally it's refreshing. With the locally-sourced menu posted on a chalkboard, plenty of local brews to choose from, and a roasted chicken dish that's touted as "the best", how could it not make the list?
2 Sparrows ~ What is with it and me liking the smallest of places this year? Perhaps it is a sign of the times. I'm intrigued by the tiny, ever-evolving brunch menu. Maple & bacon doughnut? Don't mind if I do.
Cumin ~ I was devasted, devasted I tell you, when my local modern Indian restaurant Veerasway closed this past year. I'm hoping Cumin can be it's replacement. Just thinking about mango lassi makes my mouth water.
If I make it to all of these spots, I will be eating very well this year. And that's just the way I like it.
P.S. ~ My 2011 Dining Wish List.