As is tradition at Eater, we closed out the year by surveying local food writers and our own staff on various restaurant-related topics, and publishing their responses throughout the week. Next up: What was your best meal of 2019? Readers, feel free to share your thoughts below.
Dorothy Hernandez, Managing Editor, Model D:
At first I balked at the $75 price tag, but the Osetra Caviar dish set the tone for an excellent meal at Pernoi. Also this boozy food crawl that we did earlier this year was pretty epic.
Serena Maria Daniels, Founder and Editor, Tostada Magazine:
I have to agree with my food writer peers in giving respect to the Morocco-inspired newcomer Saffron De Twah on Gratiot. Chef Omar Anani does a brilliant job of helping his guests understand the many influences that make up Moroccan food. This is important because it helps to know how the many regions of the world are connected to one another. Moroccan cuisine pulls traditions from the Middle East, Mediterranean, the French, and so on, and you can see it reflected in Anani’s dishes.
My meal there was equal parts great storytelling and deliciousness: zaalouk eggplant dip — which Anani says could be compared to baba ganoush for its use of eggplant — but with a markedly different, more citrusy flavor profile; Anani’s take on sliders with beef kafta meatballs, warm goat cheese, and saffron tomato inside pieces of batbout — Moroccan-style pita; and a generous serving of lamb tagine with fluffy couscous and a mix of veggies, green olives, toasted almonds, all flavored with charmoula.
Mark Kurlyandchik, Restaurant Critic, Detroit Free Press:
I finally made it to dinner at I Sodi in NYC and was blown away by everything, especially the fried potatoes. Of my Detroit-based meals, you’ll have to wait until I announce my Restaurant of the Year in February to find out.
John Reyes, Ann Arbor Contributor, Eater Detroit:
Ypsilanti’s Dolores was the scene of tasty tacos and quite a few Mezcal-based cocktails.
Brenna Houck, Editor, Eater Detroit:
There’s something really warm and comforting about stepping into Saffron De Twah for a meal. During one visit both of the large tables were occupied by guests that were absolutely raving about their meals and chatting with the owner, Omar Anani. Me and my dining partner ordered about three drinks and more than half the menu. Everything was incredibly good. I loved the batbout bread stuffed with cauliflower, which was so tender it was almost like eating fish. It was just a warm, welcoming evening that felt absolutely special.
My other best meal of the year was probably at Mink. I’m a seafood fanatic and this place really hit a sweet spot for me, even if it was a bit of a splurge. The scent of warm butter from preparing the shrimp rolls completely filled the dining room and came out on these lovely spongy buns. The steak tartare was really surprising with sprigs of mint garnish on top and sweet potato chips. The steamed clams with really crusty sourdough bread from Ochre Bakery was the icing on the cake of an outstanding meal.
Finally, I can’t resist shouting out Rose’s Fine Food. Their dinner service, which has since gone on hiatus, was excellent and the wine pairings were a lovely compliment to a candlelight diner meal. The cakes and pastries at Rose’s are always sublime.
• All Year in Eater Coverage [ED]