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Tastemakers On The Biggest Dining Surprise Of 2012

As is the tradition at Eater, our closeout of the year is a survey of friends, industry types, bloggers, and readers. Yesterday we discussed the state's best new restaurants, the most reliable standbys, and tried to describe 2012 in just one word. Today, we wonder: where did you eat your best meal of the year, what's the best dining town other than Portland and now: what was the biggest dining surprise of 2012? Readers, please add your thoughts to the comments.
The Well at Jordan's Farm [Photo: Facebook]

Q: What was the biggest dining surprise of 2012?

Nancy Heiser, freelance restaurant critic, food writer: A lovely outdoor dinner in August, in a gazebo at The Well, on Jordan's Farm in Cape Elizabeth, with ultra fresh and simply prepared, clean food. I also had a surprisingly good prix fixe dinner in November at the Flaky Tart in Winslow. The daytime bakery/café holds these only once a month. This infrequent offering may be the best dining in the Augusta area. That's two surprises.

Joe Ricchio, Food Coma TV: The quality of the Mexican food in Eastport.

Natalie Ladd, columnist, The Portland Daily Sun: That the health inspector and the city finally got chutzpah. I know for a fact it shook up a few seriously dirtier-than-most kitchens to pay closer attention to the absolute basics like hot food hot and cold food cold, according to code. A second inspector is a move in the right direction.

Alex Steed, Bourbon. Beer. Portland. Politics: That the near surprises don't necessarily come from brick and mortar operations.

Kate McCarty, The Blueberry Files: My birthday cake! My friends stenciled my face onto it.

Susan Axelrod, editor Eater Maine: Oysters, sausage and beer at Three Tides in Belfast. The seasonal beer garden with its cement bar and bus station-castoff furniture is fabulous in that off-beat, distinctly Belfast way.