Memorable meals of 2008
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Bazaar( Lori Shepler / Los Angeles Times / December 31, 2008 )
New restaurants such as Anisette unveiled dishes this critic is still savoring, while old favorites like Providence keep the dining magic alive.
By S. Irene Virbila, Restaurant Critic
It's impossible to capture the delights and terrors of a year of eating out in Los Angeles in a single short list. Some meals I'd rather forget, thank you. But others, the ones that yielded dishes that are still fresh and vibrant in memory, are the ones I'd like to repeat given the chance.
Casting my mind back over the last year, when I think of dishes or meals I really would like to have again, I come up with a dozen that stand out. This isn't a listing of the best restaurants necessarily, or even the best dishes -- I didn't read back over the notes I'd made on the hundreds, maybe even thousands, of dishes I tasted in the course of a year as The Times' restaurant critic. But these are the ones that stick out in my mind, in some cases even months after I tasted them.
Many of these dishes come from restaurants that opened this year. A few are from older, favorite places. The good news is that despite the economic downturn, 2008 saw a bumper crop of new and enticing restaurants with owners smart enough to know they need to offer something more than the same old-same old. And that's something to celebrate, along with restaurants that keep the faith of honest, soulful cooking.
Let's hope that all our favorites will manage to hang in until the good times roll around again. And that worthy newcomers, especially those opening up in downtown L.A. or anywhere else off the beaten track, will find an audience of enthusiastic eaters.
Photo: Diners enjoy dinner at the Rojo area of the Bazaar restaurant at the new SLS hotel on La Cienega.