Insatiable Critic’s Best of 2013

Insatiable Critic’s Best of 2013

Photo of Gael Greene
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Where do you really eat, friends and readers always ask. There is a suspicion that I might have a small secret spot I keep for myself. But no. In my 45 years as a restaurant critic, I’ve never thought any spot too tiny, too special to share.

10 Places
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    She introduced an old fashioned elegance to the soaring space with custom built wooden armoires, Portuguese tile, pewter, tapestry and a wall of mirrors, both flea and real.
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    I love the pork taco, crispy shrimp with bits of garlic, grilled maitake mushroom with whipped goat cheese, the peas of spring: pea soup, pea guacamole and fiery pea empanadas. And the trio of popsicles, a clever finale.
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    I giggled at the ridiculous show-biz tableside tricks of Pops Alan Stillman and his son Michael because I can be so happy eating at their Quality Italian.
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    I was mesmerized by the madness, the senior citizen makeout artists at the bar, the handsome transformation of the space and how I could make a meal to share of the chunky Lexington salad, the voluptuous blue fin toro.
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    What got me first were the top-notch Parker House rolls and the super flavorish rotisserie chicken – a whole bird, aggressively seasoned, with roasted root vegetables, enough for two or three or four for just $38.
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    The chef swabbed each fish with potions from a series of pots he had alongside, exquisite sea creatures, raw shrimp, uni – laughing. Never once did I consider a drop of soy.
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    That firm, exquisitely vibrant fish, seized from its two-ton pond, dispatched discreetly out-of-sight, cooked quickly in a salty court bouillon, then banked with cabbage, fingerlings and brown butter tartar sauce is reason enough to fight for a table.
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    We come back again and again ready for wrapping: the pork spring rolls in Bibb lettuce before dipping, and crunchy coconut rice with spicy sausage in crisp lettuce before a peppery dunk.
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    Recently my favorite rice noodles with barbecued duck tasted like whoever wok’d it didn’t have a clue. That can happen. As for dessert, I want fresh fruit, but I notice a lot of chocolate pudding and key lime pie going down.
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    If you’re serious about pleasure and what goes into your mouth, you’ve already been there. I go often. I get a kick out of surprising friends who automatically dismiss the notion of going to Macy’s for dinner.
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