Thursday, December 29, 2011

Best Meals 2011

As I mentioned earlier in the week in my Best Dishes 2011 post, I unfortunately didn't travel to any real food meccas this year unlike the past couple. My Top Meals 2010 list was populated by some national heavyweights such as French Laundry, Michael Mina, Benu and Fig.  The lack of travel did not make things easier for me.  This list contains some awesome meals from outstanding South Florida restaurants and chefs. 

I must admit that ranking these meals was very difficult as all were truly great.  My ranking takes every facet of the meal into consideration.  

Big thanks to all of the chefs, kitchen crews, managers, sommeliers, bartenders, servers and support staff for making 2011 a happy year for my belly!!

Honorable Mentions-

Naoe- Every meal served by Chef Kevin Cory is special and top meal caliber.

Michaels Genuine Food & Drink- Father's Day Brunch- Unranked because it was #1 last year and now a tradition. Food is always fantastic but I get even more enjoyment watching the Chowtwins dominate Hedy's pop tarts and donuts. Highlight of my year.

15. SustainThe "Bubble Dunch" Great food paired with great bubbles from start to finish. A perfect way to spend a Sunday afternoon/evening.

14. The Local Craft Food & Drink - Cobaya Dinner- Chef Cabrera's charcuterie featuring pig head terrine and his cured foie gras and country duck ham dishes really hit a sweet spot. The wine cave was a perfect setting for an "underground" Cobaya Dinner.

13. Makoto - Omakase with Chef Makoto. Arrived solo for a late lunch/early dinner and was the only person in the place. Mano a mano with Makoto and the fish starting flying across the sushi bar. He even gave me a money back guarantee on some offerings. Obviously unnecessary.    

12. Chow Down GrillCobaya Dinner- Chef Joshua Marcus really grasped and embraced the concept of Cobaya. He was aggressive and took a lot of chances that worked well.  Fun time.

11. Bourbon Steak- Montille Burgundy Dinner- Producer Etienne de Montille was in the house for this intimate dinner featuring several outstanding burgundies from the Montille portfolio. The wines were the star of this show but Chef Fenton's food easily matched and surpassed the outstanding juice.

10. Jeffrey Brana- "Kiss My Pork Butt" starring a whole Berkshire pig and his Mangalitsa friend. Chef Brana's mangalitsa belly was my dish of the year.

9. Chef Jeremiah and the gastroPod - Cobaya Jeremiah- Some real treats on this extensive tasting menu from Chef Jeremiah, the King of Cobaya. Plus an off the charts dessert from Pastry Chef Antonio Bachour. (St. Regis)

8. Tudor House - Truffle Tasting Menu- Late entry into the mix but a worthy one. This would have been a great meal sans the truffles.  They made it special and the perfect way to end the food year.

7. Common Threads Dinner at Area 31 with Michael Reidt, Kris Wessel and Sean Brassel. Fantastic meal for an even better cause.  This would be ranked 6 but I already had Reidt's dishes at his Cobaya. Wessel's dish was jaw-droppingly good and #4 overall for 2011. Hey Wessel, I know you have a killer Cobaya in you... Come out and plaayaaaay!!!

6. Area 31- Cobaya Dinner- Two words Foie Fluff!!! Fantastic flavors exhibited by Chef Reidt throughout the meal. Hidden gem.

5. Azul- Cobaya Dinner with Andrew Zimmern and Bizarre Foods- those who were not in attendance may get to catch a glimpse of this fantastic dinner when the show airs this summer. One word- beetzanella!! May have ranked higher if I wasn't on camera and miked the entire meal....

4. Azul- Tasting Menu- In a league of their own. Joel Huff and team are doing creative, cutting edge and really tasty things in that kitchen. The complexity and attention to detail of each dish is astounding. Super special place. This meal featured several of Azul's hits and Chef Huff's killer Bacon Eggs & Toast dish give this a slight nod over the Cobaya dinner. slight!!

3. Jeffrey Brana - The Wagyu Dinner- Chef Brana sucker punched me with a knockout meal from start to finish. Big time Wagyu hits across the board in an intimate setting with a great group of strangers plus RR from Miami Power Rankings.

2. Michy'sCobaya "Sra. Michybaya"- First class meal in every way from my favorite Chef. Chef Bernstein is a consummate pro and it trickles down to the entire team. She's a rock star and she rocked it. My favorite Cobaya to date.

1. Bourbon Steak- Birthday Dinner- Special day, shared with a special person at a place where I always feel welcome. Caviar, stone crabs, foie, Alba white truffles, A3 Wagyu were paired with outstanding wines and coupled with the best service in town.... Insanely good!

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