My year in food

By BY ROBERT NADEAU  |  March 30, 2009

BEST SMALL PLATES
Shiki, where savory Japanese bar food stands out from a world of sushi

BEST SMALL PLATES, NON-ASIAN
Small Plates

NOTHING SUCCEEDS LIKE EXCESS (APPETIZER)
Colossal lump-crab-meat cocktail at the Oceanaire

OCTOPUS OF THE YEAR
Baby octopus in tomato sauce at Shabu-Zen in Allston

BEST SOUP
(Tie) Slow-roasted tomato, basil, and cheddar soup at Z Square in Kenmore Square; seafood congee (on the live sashimi dinner) at Minsok

BEST CHICKEN SOUP
Pho at Pho Republique

ENTRÉE OF THE YEAR
Berkshire pork chop at Hungry Mother

BEST STEAK
Niman Ranch bavette steak at Persephone (great frites, too)

BEST CHEAP STEAK
Smoked churrasco at Orinoco

BEST LAMB AT A STEAK HOUSE
Tango

BEST CHICKEN DISH
Three-cups chicken at Jo Jo Taipei

LOBSTER OF THE YEAR
Lobster two ways at Restaurant Marliave

BEST SINGLE ITEM IN ANY FONDUE OR SHABU-SHABU
Planked salmon at the Melting Pot

BEST RETRO
Marinara red sauce on eggplant rollatini or lasagna at Ricardo's

BEST PASTA DISHES
Da Vinci Ristorante

BEST SINGLE PASTA DISH
Scialatielli at Gran Gusto

BEST REVIVAL FRENCH DISH
Blanquette de veau at La Voile

BEST IRISH DISH
Corned beef and cabbage (with a sauce!) at J.J. Foley's Cafû

BEST VEGETARIAN ENTRÉE
Lalla musa dal at Tamarind Bay Coastal Indian Kitchen

BURGER OF THE YEAR
Mini cheeseburgers at the Blarney Stone

FRIES OF THE YEAR
Yucca fries at Machu Picchu Charcoal Chicken & Grill

CONDIMENT OF THE YEAR
Mint chutney at Annapurna

BEST RED-WINE LIST
Tango

BETTER THAN MOST ARGENTINE MALBECS
Château du Cèdre Hûritage Cahors (malbec from France) 2005 at Central 37/Market

BETTER THAN MOST PINOT NOIRS
Potel-Aviron 2003 Julienas (Beaujolais) at La Voile

BETTER THAN MOST SAUVIGNON BLANCS
2007 Torrontûs Trivento Select at the Melting Pot

CRAFT DRAUGHT OF THE YEAR
Unibroue "Éphûmère," a Belgian ale/cider fusion from Quebec, at the Publick House

KEEPING FRENCH-PRESS COFFEE ALIVE AND FRESH
Persephone

FEWER-TREES-DIE-FOR-PLYWOOD DÉCOR PRIZE
BanQ

THE GOLDEN EARPLUGS AWARD
BanQ, a vast forest of plywood — all reflecting high-frequency sound

BEST SUSHI WHERE YOU DON'T EXPECT IT
Sushi-Teq in the InterContinental Hotel

PHOENIX ROLL OF THE YEAR (WE TRACK THESE)
Haru: rice around spicy salmon, tempura shrimp, cucumber, and lettuce for crunch

BEST PLACE THAT WENT OUT OF BUSINESS EVEN AFTER I GAVE IT FOUR STARS
Boston Public

BEST PLACE THAT WENT OUT OF BUSINESS BETWEEN MY VISIT AND WRITING THE REVIEW
Circle Plates & Lounge (we'll never know)

BEST RE-USE OF A BANK BUILDING (COULD BE A LOT OF COMPETITION IN 2009)
The Oceanaire

WORST RESTAURANT NAME
(Tie) Church, Lobby

BEST RESTAURANT FOR VEGETARIANS
Vee Vee (there's seafood, too)

VEGGIE INNOVATION OF THE YEAR
(Tie) Dehydrated beet slices at Grezzo; warm squash "fettucine" at Small Plates

DINING-OUT EXPERIENCE THAT WOULD MAKE A FUNNY TITLE FOR A CD
Risotto at the Blarney Stone

DINING-OUT EXPERIENCE THAT COULD BE THE NAME OF THE BAND
Blackfish-bone stew (at Minsok)

WEIRDEST THING I ATE AND SURVIVED
Sea-squirt sashimi at Minsok

WEIRDEST THING I ATE AND LIKED
Sea-cucumber sashimi at Minsok

WEIRDEST THING I ATE AND LIKED A WHOLE LOT
"Pork-blood tofu and intestine" (hot pot) at Wisteria House

MOST UNWHOLESOME DELIGHT
Fried baby-back ribs at Roadhouse Craft Beer & BBQ

BEST BACKGROUND MUSIC
Brazilian at Benatti

DESSERTS OF THE YEAR
Benatti's flight by Dianna Macedo (gorgonzola gelato on poached heirloom pear, OMG)

MOST AMUSING AMUSE-BOUCHE
Green-apple cotton candy at Bokx 109

Robert Nadeau can be reached at RobtNadeau@aol.com.

Editor's Note: In a previous version of this article the incorrect photo of a rack of lamb was noted as having come from Persephone when it actually came from the restaurant Emilitsa in Maine.  The correct photo has now been applied to this article.

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