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Friends of Eater on the Biggest Dining Surprises of 2014

As is tradition at Eater, we close out the year with a survey of other local food writers on various restaurant-related topics. Up next, the biggest dining surprises of 2014.

Hamersley's Bistro
Hamersley's Bistro
Cal Bingham for Eater

MC Slim JB, restaurant critic for The Improper Bostonian: "I was gobsmacked that in the age of Yelp and Instagram I could still uncover a new restaurant that had been open for eight months yet was entirely overlooked by the local press and barely acknowledged by amateur reviewers: Thao Ngoc, a homey Vietnamese place in Fields Corner. One of my favorite new restaurants of 2014: a place to bring six friends, feast like a king, and collect $20 apiece to cover the check, including a fat tip. I’m truly grateful that The Improper occasionally lets me review more modest places like this in sorely under-reported neighborhoods like Dorchester."

BosGuy, blogger: "Gordon Hamersley's decision to close his very successful restaurant."

Rachel Cossar, blogger at Foodista on Pointe and special contributor to The Daily Meal: "Hamersley's Bistro closing."

Marc H., founder of Boston's Hidden Restaurants and Boston Restaurant Talk: "I'm stunned that the restaurant boom continues after several years of more restaurants opening than closing. This can't continue."

Damien Smith, community manager for Yelp Boston: "The hot, molten flow of Southern-inspired restaurants and menu features is a nice foil to standard New England fare. Not only have big buzz newcomers like State ParkRosebud redux and Loretta's held their own, the trend has chugga-chugga'd scores of chicken-fried fearing folk to mature mainstays. Which sucks when I want a table, but hey, good on ya."

Scott Kearnan, editor of Zagat Boston: "Saddest surprise, too: the closing of Hamersley’s Bistro. Certain spots are so iconic, and taken for granted, that you’re bound to be caught off guard when they close. (Even if the writing was on the wall.) Also… Before Wink & Nod opened, it seemed like it was being positioned as a cocktail destination with an ancillary culinary program. But the pop-up "incubator" concept of its revolving kitchen — which has so far brought in Whisk and Bread & Salt Hospitality — wound up being its more interesting feature, I think. Not so much a 'surprise' as an 'inversion of expectations'?"

Rachel Leah Blumenthal, editor of Eater Boston: "I'm surprised and delighted by the continued dining growth of neighborhoods that used to be dead at night and on weekends. Fort Point's old news at this point, but Downtown Crossing and Kendall Square, for example, have been getting livelier outside of office hours as more restaurants open."