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December 22, 2009

Top 10 Most Memorable Meals of the Decade



When I decided to do my most memorable meals of the decade for my almost-end-of-the-year Top 10 (wait till you see what I come up with for the end-of-the-year Top 10), I couldn't decide whether it should include both memorably good and memorably bad meals or not.

But I don't want to be too Scrooge-like during Christmas Week, so I'll stick to the good ones, year by year.

Here's my list: ...

2000: The now-closed M. Gettier's in Towson (3 1/2 stars): The best entree was lamb prepared two ways on the same plate: a fall-off-the-bone tender shank is arranged with a juicy pink chop on a bed of cabbage braised with cream.

2001: My one four-star restaurant was Tapas Teatro in what was then not Station North. I raved about the roasted eggplant, the grilled chicken with cumin and the lamb chops in rhubarb sauce. As you can see, I go with the sure bets a decade later.

2002: My only four-star meal was at the Tasting Room in Frederick. I loved the pork with roasted peach compote; swordfish steak with flavors of char, lemon, olive oil and garlic; panko-crusted shrimp; and veal chop over saffron risotto.

2003: In a year where I had 3 1/2 star meals at Rudys', Bicycle, Rooster Cafe in Columbia and Abacrombie, the one I ended up giving a "Restaurant of the Year" award to was Abacrombie (under former owners). I mentioned the seafood pot-au-feu and chicken with savory bread pudding in particular.

2004: I gave four stars to both Big Bad Wolf's House of Barbeque and Julia's in Centreville; but for a memorable meal I have to go with Julia's red snapper with a julienne of vegetables, avocado, little wonton pillows stuffed with lobster and mayonnaise flavored with garlic, ginger, lime and Chinese mustard.

2005: Charleston's new small plates, fixed-price menu got the nod this year with four-star food including lobster, peaches and limas; confit of pork with black-eyed peas; braised veal shoulder with grilled sweetbreads; and many other daintily proportioned dishes.

2006: The new four-star Salt Tavern topped my list this year, with explosively good New American food, from the foie gras-topped mini-burger to the house-made ravioli stuffed with duck confit. Not to mention the seared tuna and the lamb stroganoff with fresh spinach and noodles.

2007: I would have to put our 3 1/2 star meal at b in the 'quietly memorable" category, with perfectly executed bistro fare like chicken "osso buco," salads and wonderful soups, pizza and wild rockfish with polenta.

2008: I had no four-star meals last year, but I did enjoy my dinner at Fin Steak & Seafood in Fells Point, which promptly closed. Maybe I'll mention the 3 1/2 star gourmet bar food at the Hamilton Tavern, which included a special that evening, salmon with avocado sauce, spinach and empanadas.

2009: This is my hardest to decide, perhaps because I'm too close to it. My meal at Volt was certainly memorable, but the food at the Prime Rib was flawless. Sometimes simple done right trumps even wildly creative and wonderful but with a few slips.

(Photo of the Tasting Room/Sun archives)

Posted by Elizabeth Large at 4:29 AM | | Comments (22)
Categories: Top Ten Tuesdays


EL, perhaps you can share some of your most memorable bad meals for the places that are no longer with us? Perhaps that wouldn't be too Scrooge-like...and could make for some good stories!

I'll have to do some research. :-) EL

EL, It's probably been asked before, but, have you ever went somewhere to review, and you had such an awful meal that you decided to scrap the plan and pick a new place to review? For example, the service was decent, the people were friendly, but the food was just inedible?

Not really. The worst meal I've had (that I remember) was at a now-closed restaurant in Power Plant Live. I gave the food 1 1/2 stars. EL

Curious how Restaurant Sabor rates in all of this - you gave it 3.5 stars about a year ago. Does the lack of a liquor license pose a problem?

Not for me. In fact, it's a plus when I'm spending my own money. But if I don't remember my meal at Sabor well enough to look it up to get the particulars, then I can't label it as most memorable, can I? EL

Still miss Rudy's. sigh.

Does anyone know if the owner's of the Golden Star Chinese Restaurant, that used to be on Greenmount Ave, have opened a new location. I have yet to find chinese that compares. I live in Florida and would have my mother bring down eggrolls, shrimp toast and pork chow mien to me! Thanks. Stacy

Alright, I am getting tired myself of only posting the captchas, but this is timely. "Senate Games".

Um, I gotta ask: Since when do counts start with Zero? 2000 ended the 20th century; 2001 began the 21st. To me, that means there's still a year left in the first decade of the 21st century. That quibble aside, it IS an interesting look-back, Elizabeth.

City's Gorge ...apparently, big dinner ahead for everybody.

Dottie, we computer geeks count from zero. /dev/hda0, /dev/hda1, /dev/hda2, etc. So, you don't have to start with something.

Trixie: aides Nuking (Cleatus' employees' fixing his microwavable lunch?)

Dottie & Lissa, purists and geeks can argue about how to count, but regular people think in decades and centuries: the 1920's, the 1970's, the 1800's, etc. To me the change over from 1999 to 2000 was much more momentous than the change from 2000 to 2001.

the Betts reval: Cleatus's makeover name

decades are never conclusive from exactly 10 years. From 1972-1975, I was wearing bellbottom jeans and t-shirts. By 1975, there was (shudder)Disco played at my prom, and people doing the bump. By 1978, people were wearing polyester and designer jeans. inexact to count 1970-1980 as any purist decade description.

captcha, back on food topic "your ragout"

Dahlink, I guess you must have felt horribly shortchanged when your "decades" of 9BC-1BC and 1AD-9AD only lasted for 9 years each. ;-) (Frankly, I thought Arthur C. Clarke's 2001 had forever resolved the question of the first year of a decade, century, etc.)

No, hmpstd, I may be an old-timer, but I wasn't around back then!

on digs: seems appropriate somehow

Dottie, we computer geeks count from zero. /dev/hda0, /dev/hda1, /dev/hda2, etc. So, you don't have to start with something.

Zero is something. It's the beginning. Do you start a marathon at mile 1? No, you start at zero.When a baby is born it is zero. Life begins at zero.

Owl Meat GearJammer wrote When a baby is born it is zero. Life begins at zero. Maybe--if you're a glass half-empty kind of guy.

Too good: Mr. earthquake

And then: been Buff

Zero is pregnant with possibility.

Laura Lee, I would venture that OMG has never been pregnant.

I would venture that OMG has never been pregnant.

No, but I'm told I was born.

my husband and i loved Rooster and when it closed i seem to remember the chef/owner lost his lease but had other possibilities. any word on where he is now?

I dafenately agree with you. Wonderful reviewed by you. All are really such tasty meals.

For the new decade, it is time to look back over the past eight years and choose my favorite Top 10 lists. David Letterman made the Top 10 of all celebrities jumped on the bandwagon.

For the new decade, it is time to look back over the past eight years and choose my favorite Top 10 lists. David Letterman made the Top 10 of all celebrities jumped on the bandwagon.

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About this blog
Richard Gorelick was appointed The Baltimore Sun's restaurant critic in September 2010. Before joining the paper staff fulltime, he contributed freelance criticism and features articles about food to area and regional publications. Along the way, he dispatched for short-distance trucking companies, shilled for cultural non-profits, and assisted in cognitive neurology research – never the subject, always the control.

He takes restaurants seriously but not himself, and his favorite restaurant is the one you love, too.

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