Well, here we are in our imaginary tuxedos, passing out imaginary awards for fine-dining experiences — culinary performances which are sometimes hard to repeat and usually go undocumented. But this column documents the hits and the flops, so here are the awards from my dining-out year, for achievements dandy or dubious.
Restaurant of the year: Oishii Boston.
Non-asian restaurant of the year: Lineage.
Décor prize and fusion restaurant of the year: OM .
The 10th Annual Howard Mitchum Memorial Medal For Innovation In Seafood Cookery (the one award that really matters): Pino Maffeo of Restaurant L . Although he dabbles in science fiction, his winning entry was based on refinement of basics: a tempura-style soft-shell crab with wasabi mayonnaise; grilled wild salmon with a Japanese-style topping of lightly pickled veggies, and warm lobster with coconut emulsion, so the effect is less rich than dipping one’s lobster in butter at a lobster shack, but tastier.
Best trend of the year: tea made loose-leaf in pots — at last! Runner-up: osso bucco with risotto.
Worst trend of the year: (unless you like spicy) Mandarin-Sichuan restaurants that do their specialties very well, but have an attitude about the rest of the menu.
Trend I’d like to see: bars with no televisions.
Trend foods ready for retirement: seared tuna; tuna tartare. Let’s try another flavor of high-mercury seafood for a change.
Leading indicator trend of a coming recession: mostly Italian and Asian second restaurants and conversions.
Best neighborhood restaurant: Masona Grill .
Best bar food: River Gods ; the Alchemist Lounge .
Best new north end restaurant: Eclano .
Most authentic Italian outside the North End: Trattoria Toscana .
Best Neighborhood Italian: Salute .
Best second location that’s now the only location: Atasca .
Best fourth location that’s now the second location: Rustic Kitchen in the Theater District.
Funniest menu, intentional: Stoli.
Bar popcorn of the year: OM .
Potato chips of the year: Ruth’s Chris Steak House.
French fries of the year: no award, because the best I had were in Portugal.
Appetizer of the year: maiz asado at Toro . Runner-up: Daddy-O’s chipotle wings at Z Square .