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Industry Experts on their Single Best Meal of the Year

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As is the tradition at Eater, our closeout of the year is a survey of friends, food writers, reviewers and bloggers. This year, we asked the group eight questions. So far, we've heard about their restaurant standbys, top newcomers, one-word summations, the worst dining trends and biggest surprises. Now, they dish on the best meal they ate all year. Responses are listed in no particular order; all are cut, pasted and unedited herein. Readers, please do add your survey answers in the comments.


Tao Yuan in Brunswick got multiple mentions for meal of the year. [Photo: Facebook]

Q. What was the single best meal of 2013?
Meredith Goad, Press Herald food writer and columnist, Maine a la Carte blogger:

Tao Yuan in Brunswick – the meal I still rave about to friends. The food is amazing, and it's the best "small plates" experience I've had.

John Golden, Maine Sunday Telegram restaurant critic, Golden Dish blogger:

A special dinner for two at my house: noisettes of local lamb with sauce grand veneur, Ch. Nenin 2005, gratin dauphinois and mousseline of peas; ricotta almond souffle tart

Rachel Forrest, Seacoast Online food writer and restaurant critic:

My single best meal was at Tao Yuan in Brunswick. Cara Stadler is so talented and only 26 years old! Her food is a smart melding of French and Asian cuisine. The lobster wontons are so delicate in their French inspired sauce with coconut and Panang curry and I could eat dozens of the grandmother's pork buns. The pan seared duck breast with apricots was perfect.

Claire Jeffers, Press Herald Bar Guide writer:

Anything from Blue Spoon's brunch menu, but more specifically: polenta with a chorizo sauce topped with a poached egg.

Nancy Heiser, food and travel writer, former Maine Sunday Telegram restaurant critic:

A simple lunch of pasta with pesto and bruschetta with anchovies in Monterossa in Italy this October stands out. The olive oil alone was remarkable.

Kathy Gunst, author of 14 cookbooks (most recently, Notes from a Maine Kitchen), "resident chef" for NPR's award-winning show, Here and Now:

Always the hardest question. Was it at Fore Street which never disappoints? Was it at Miyake which always surprises? Was it the amazing farm-fresh food at Nebo Lodge and Turner Farm? Was it at my house? Because there is still the truth that there's no place like home.

Susan Axelrod, Press Herald/Maine Today online content producer, Maine a la Carte blogger, former Eater Maine editor:

The Herradura tequila dinner at Zapoteca in September. Every one of the five courses was extraordinary and the tequila pairings were inspired. Shannon Bard is one of the most under-rated chefs in Portland.

Michael Cain and Meredith Perdue, Map & Menu bloggers:

Michael: As a complete meal, I think our first dinner at Piccolo was my favorite of the year. Charred cauliflower with onions and anchovies, and the roasted eggplant, oregano, and ricotta to start. Followed by a pair of perfectly prepared lamb chops with glazed carrots and cipollini onions. And finished with my favorite dessert of the year - the "Wine and Cheese" - a layered creation of red wine gelatin and vanilla and goat cheese mousse, topped with a grape and orange salad and puff pastries filled with honey and red wine.

Meredith: Unquestionably the pan-seared hake on black rice with carrots in a lemon butter sauce at The Well. Their ingredients are always wonderfully fresh and locally-sourced, and their dishes are simply delicious. Add the atmosphere of a gourmet meal on a shared picnic table, outdoors at a farm, with one of your own bottles of wine, and you've got yourself one delightful evening.

Lard of Avon, Eater Maine top commenter, Midcoast dining advocate:

It will happen on December 31st, like it does every year, when myself, Mrs. Lard (oh she would kill me if she knew I just said that) and some others attend the annual New Year's Eve dining service at The Hartstone Inn in Camden. Every year Chef Michael Salmon & his wife Mary Jo outdo themselves. A three hour culinary odyssey, with at least eight to ten menu items. I look forward to it 364 days in advance.

· All Coverage of Year in Eater 2013 [~EMAINE~]