Top Ten Restaurants of 2011

Now that 2011 is almost over, I have compiled a list of my Top Ten Restaurants of the year.  I have noticed the more restaurants I visit, the judgier I become. I blame my increasingly discerning palate on two things:  1) Having patronized many fine dining establishments this year and 2) Starting culinary school.

1. August – John Besh’s small and intimate restaurant in New Orleans.  The execution of the dishes and service were impeccable.  Dave salivates just thinking about our meal there; we were too busy enjoying the experience to take any pictures!
301 Tchoupitoulas St
New Orleans, LA

2. Talula’s Garden – We first went to Talula’s for my birthday back in May and then went again with Dave’s parents in October to wish them Bon Voyage on their 6 month sailing expedition. In between our visits they replaced chefs, but I found the food didn’t change much.  Delicious both times!  Dave discovered his new favorite drink here, The Dreamer, which is a gin and tonic with cucumber.  What stands out for me is the cookie plate with the carrot cake cookies (which I attempted to replicate for my book club cookie exchange) and chocolate caramel sea salt bars.  Here’s a sneak peak.
210 W. Washington Square
Philadelphia, PA

3. One if By Land, Two if By Sea – In addition to the romantic atmosphere and the history of the building, this West Village establishment in NYC has a kick-ass dirty martini, made with horseradish-infused vodka that is, and excellent food to go with it.
17 Barrow St
New York, NY

4.  a.kitchen – I’ve recently been recommending this Rittenhouse Square haunt a lot lately.  It has a nice balance of good atmosphere and food to match, and the tapas style menu is my dining preference. (Remember how I love to taste everything?) I enjoy it so much that I am even willing to overlook how they set the tables.  The octopus with quince chutney and chick pea fries is a favorite.
135 South 18th Street
Philadelphia, PA

5. Tashan – I LOVE Indian food and was completely devastated when I learned my favorite Indian restaurant Bindi was closing.  Dave and I ate there twice in its final weeks; we even went to their close-out sale and bought a few small bowls as a keepsake.  Even though Bindi will forever live in my heart, Tashan has now taken its place.  Craig LaBan knows.  He gave it 3 bells!
777 S. Broad Street
Philadelphia, PA

6. Craigie on Main – Pork dominates the menu at this cute Cambridge, Mass., eatery.  Dave can’t stop talking about the crispy pig tails he ate there.
853 Main Street
Cambridge, MA

7. Monsu – Dave and I went to this BYOB on our 2nd date, and have brought his parents and then his sister and her boyfriend back since.  A Monsu is a French Chef that worked in Italy.  We tried frog legs here for the first time, but for me, it’s all about the Lasagna topped with fried egg.
901 Christian Street
Philadelphia, PA

8. Barbuzzo – This year’s addition to Chef Marcie Turney and Valerie Safran’s 13th Street empire has pizzas that are creative and tasty, but the salty sweetness of the Budino dessert is the real reason Barbuzzo makes the list.
110 South 13th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19107

9. Farm and the Fisherman – This cozy BYOB in our neighborhood, owned by fellow Drexel alums, creates creative fare with its farm-to-table concept.
1120 Pine Street
Philadelphia, PA 19107

10. Neptune Oyster – This place deserves a shout out since it satisfied our quest for the Best Lobster Roll.  But you’ll have to travel to Boston to try it.
63 Salem Street
Boston, MA