2006 restaurant awards

The best of this year’s dining
By ROBERT NADEAU  |  December 20, 2006

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 .

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