Monday, December 29, 2008

2008 Restaurant Recap

It's been fun to get this blog started to highlight the best of Howard County restaurants and living choices. Here's a look back at some of the best restaurant moments we'll recall from 2008.

Welcome Newcomers: Bistro Blanc tops our list with inventive dishes, a friendly atmosphere and even a live string quartet on weekends. It's the most ambitious new restaurant in the county and quickly becoming one of the best. Victoria Gastro Pub technically opened in December of 2007, but over the course of this year quickly went from being an unknown quantity to becoming an old friend and busy destination dining spot. The Diamondback Tavern is a very recent welcome addition in Old Town Ellicott City. Other newcomers that we wish well include the Ten Oaks Tavern, Waverly Grill, Mamma Lucia's, Mimi's Kabob, River Hill Sports Grille, Second Chance Saloon and Cha Ya Cafe.

Best Meals: The slow-cooked salmon we had at Bistro Blanc stands out as the most memorable dish we had this year. Succulent and pillow-soft, it was part of the best single meal we've had locally this year. The meal we've gone back for most frequently is the grill-at-your-table bulgogi and brisket at the Shin Chon Garden. It's hearty, satisfying and complimented with a table full of intriguing small dishes (banchan) that are fun to try. For the best meal overall, though, we snuck in a road trip this year to the Inn at Little Washington for an anniversary dinner that was out of this world. If you've never been, it's worth saving up to splurge for one of the best dining experiences you'll find anywhere.

Best Restaurants: We'll stick with our lists of Best Restaurants and Nearly Best Restaurants in Howard County for the time being. But we're looking forward to trying more places and updating our lists later in the year.

Dearly Departed: It's no secret 2008 was a tough year for restaurants, and we lost a few good ones in Howard County. We'll miss the dim sum at Jesse Wong's Hong Kong, the seafood at Trapeze and the family fare and brews at the Rocky Run Tap & Grill. A number of others have changed hands and started lives under new names or management (pace M.D.'s Country Pub, Mangia's, Luna C Grille, Tiber River Tavern, Last Chance Saloon and the Red Parrot). We hope 2009 will see an improvement, but it looks to be off to a very rough start. We hope when you decide to go out you give top consideration to your local favorites.

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