As is the tradition at Eater, our closeout of the year is a survey of friends, industry types, bloggers, and readers. We've already covered Top Standbys, Favorite Newcomers, 2012 in One Word, and Best Neighborhood. Friends of Eater shared their best meal of 2012 below. Where was your best meal this past year?
Daliah Singer, assistant editor, 5280 Magazine: I had an amazing cauliflower gnocchi with a beet reduction (reduction may not be the right word) at Fuel Cafe for lunch this past summer. I've never liked cauliflower. I basically licked my plate. Best lunch of the year. Hands down.
William Porter, restaurant critic, the Denver Post: The Squeaky Bean, hands down. MacKissock is big on seasonal food, and has a particular gift with produce. Back in the summer he did a wonderful entrée of Berkshire pork loin that he served with Palisade peaches, both stewed and sliced raw. It came with a burnt onion jus and corn panna cotta, flanked with mustard greens and dusted with marcona almonds. That was a lot of flavor going on, but it melded beautifully.
Tucker Shaw, features editor, the Denver Post: My weekly Monday-night carbonara sessions, solo, at home. After so many years eating out most nights, I spent much more time in my kitchen in 2012. It really is a lovely thing, to cook for yourself. I'd nearly forgotten.
Grace Boyle, contributor, Eater Denver: August Farm Dinner at Lyons Farmette from Katie Bruzdzinski, Owner/Chef at Eat featuring food from local farmers, MM Local, Lasater Farm Beef and Colorado's own Jack Rabbit Hill Wine. Under the twinkling mountain sky in Lyons and amongst new friends, farmers and food purveyors, it was an evening to remember.
Eric Elkins, owner of social media agency WideFoc.us and the Dating Dad website: I had a meal I'll never, ever forget at Ravi Kapur's pop-up dinner at Red Bird Provisions in San Francisco, but, in Denver, it would have to be my date with a former flame at Central Bistro and Bar. My Log Cabin cocktail was smoky and sweet, like a maple sazerac. Dinner was goat cheese dumplings, baby greens salad, white gazpacho with basil sorbet, a flawless lamb tenderloin that made me cry a little bit, finished with a peach cobbler and sweet corn ice cream. And one epic, summer-laden, melancholy kiss goodnight.
Jessica Hunter, Eater Denver Contributor: It is a combination of things. Colt & Gray's Pig Brain and Local Corn soufflé, white truffle oil, and smoked Santa Rosa plum jus. OAK at Fourteenth's Grilled "Fatty Beef" with grits and wild mushrooms. Max MacKissock's pop-up (right before The Bean reopened) of lamb wrapped lamb -- belly wrapped loin, whipped sweet potato, soubise, crispy kale and frisee. I think I just drooled again.
Natasha Gardner, senior editor/digital editor, 5280 Magazine: I was pregnant for much of 2012, so many of my favorite foods (sushi, hollandaise, rare steak) were verboten and dining out was tricky. Many restaurants had limited options--or were unwilling to accommodate a pregnant diet. Olivea was the exception. So much so, that it became a go-to option during those nine months and our "last meal" before our son was born. The pork cheeks entree was the perfect way to celebrate.
Adam Larkey, contributing photographer, Eater Denver: Six course tasting at Black Cat in Boulder.
LeVar Battle, contributor, Denver Off The Wagon: Joe Hines', Green Russell, Smoke, Vine, and Seed wine cocktail during Colorado Wine Week's Wine Cocktail Celebration. Who needs protein when you have booze?
Jennifer Olson, food photographer and author of Colorado Organic, Cooking Seasonally- Eating Locally : the Kitchen.
Kris Browning-Blas, food editor, the Denver Post: Tacos -- carnitas, asada and rajas -- at Pinche. The food tasted pure, clean and unfussy, but with big bright flavor.
Heidi McGuire, former Metromix Entertainment Host for 9News and currently the owner of 321 Media Productions: Aspen wins this one. Sunday September 16th I dinned at Matsu, Ellina, AND Cache Cache. I woke up the next day totally full and hungover. It was amazing!
Vanessa Barcus, owner of Goldyn: The Kitchen probably. Or else Paxia.
Andra Zeppelin, editor, Eater Denver: Frasca on my birthday. They have a way of making guests feel special and appreciated both through impeccable service as well as food. The creativity and respect to tradition are in perfect balance in that kitchen.
Jeremy Kossler, founder of the Denver Burger Battle: Denver: Bittersweet. Non-Denver: Forage (Salt Lake City).
Penny Parker, columnist at Black Tie Colorado, formerly of the Denver Post: Truffle dinner at Barolo Grill.
Elaine St. Louis, art director, Colorado Homes & Lifestyles: Our anniversary at Fruition, started with bubbly and crispy potato-wrapped oysters and went upward from there. Spectacular.