It’s a good surprise, in that I frankly anticipated some industry contraction that didn’t happen this year, after a surprising run of expansion over several years, notably in the Seaport. I still think we have more seats than diners (and talented line cooks and skilled servers) in Boston at the moment, and that worries me. I say it every year: If you want a vibrant, unique, innovative Boston restaurant scene to continue, support your local indies over chain outlets. Without those independents, we’re just Des Moines with oysters.
That more restaurants didn't close after the horrible winter we had.
Kerry J. Byrne, food writer for the Boston Herald:
Surprise suggests "greatest improved distance between expectation and execution," so I’d have to go with Committee for this. Knowing the more nightlife-oriented pedigree of its team, I wasn’t really banking on the food, to be honest. So I was super pleasantly surprised when it yielded a bunch of plates that would leave me saying, "I can’t wait to come back and eat that again." Sometimes you just really want flavors to pop off a plate, and it delivered that really, surprisingly well. That said, I haven’t had a chance to get back since chef de cuisine Geoff Lukas passed away, very sadly, in October. I don’t know if the team is still making good on the promise he offered, but I hope so.
Barry Maiden's James Beard Award victory, followed quickly by the closing of Hungry Mother, was a big surprise.
West Bridge closing :(
The biggest surprise was the realization that Southie has the beginnings of a legitimate dining scene worth checking out. New restaurants like Worden Hall, Loco Taqueria, and Coppersmith have all caught my attention. I look forward to seeing how the dining scene in Southie continues to grow in 2016.
I’ve been pleasantly surprised at all the new Sichuan spots popping up in Allston/Brighton/Brookline. I’m a total fiend and so glad numbing-hot food is having a moment.
Dana Hatic, Eater Boston associate editor:
Rachel Leah Blumenthal, Eater Boston editor:
There were some surprisingly rapid expansions this year — a number of teams started working on one or more new projects seemingly before the paint had dried at their original ones. Lots of expansions out to unexpected places, too, like Burlington and Lynnfield. But the biggest surprise, because it rarely happens, is when a restaurant opens right on schedule. Can't think of any of these off the top of my head from 2015, though.