As is Eater tradition, we close out the year by surveying local food writers (including our own staff and contributors) on various restaurant-related topics, and we publish their responses throughout the final week of the year. Readers, please feel free to chime in with your own thoughts in the comment section below.
Today’s first question: What was your most disappointing meal of 2016?
MC Slim JB, restaurant critic for The Improper Bostonian:
“I’m a fan of the original Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana in New Haven, made pilgrimages there over the years for its justly-storied clam pies. That magic has not made the trip up I-95 to their new outlet in a Chestnut Hill mall. All of the hassle, none of the charm, not nearly enough of the flavor.”
Dan Whalen, food blogger and cookbook author:
“I went to a fancy farm-to-table dinner in Idaho that was set up in the center of a barley field on the most picturesque farm I have ever seen. The farmer himself was there talking about the care and love that went into growing all the different crops. The mountains were glistening on the horizon. The table setup was stunning, and I was with a group of about 15 amazing people. The food was almost inedible.”
Rachel Cossar, food blogger and host of the new video series Curate the Plate:
“I had a brunch that involved a ceviche that was served at room temp and guacamole that was served gloopy...benefit of the doubt was given to the restaurant in question — could just have been an off service.”
Korsha Wilson, creator of A Hungry Society and food writer for various publications, including Eater Boston:
“It was at a restaurant in Harvard Square that everyone seems to love that just sucks to me. Yes, every restaurant can have an ‘off’ night, but the ethos of a place can be felt in its hospitality. This restaurant treats people like they should be thankful they got a seat. I hate that, and I think the best restaurants make their guests feel welcome. I gave it three chances, and every time I left feeling mistreated and hungry since the food didn’t live up to the hype either.”
Emily Phares, writer and illustrator for various publications and websites, including Eater Boston:
“I went to a French restaurant in Boston that landed on one of those ‘best of’ lists, ordered beef bourguignon, and was served sliced beef and frozen vegetables — cauliflower, carrots, snap peas. I think they just microwaved them. Turns out the opening chef (who had presumably been at the helm when the restaurant was reviewed) had left; that restaurant is now closed.”
Rachel Leah Blumenthal, Eater Boston editor:
“No specific disappointing dining experiences come to mind, fortunately, but I felt a bit disappointed this year to see the vast number of out-of-town chains that are expanding here in 2016-2017, especially in Back Bay and the Seaport. That’s not to say that they’re all bad — in fact, I quite like some of them — but it’s more the quantity that gets me down and the fact that real estate prices in an increasing number of neighborhoods are prohibitive to local independent restaurateurs and only manageable to these giant non-local companies. That said, please bring on the Num Pangs and Xi’an Famous Foods and Cornish Pasty Cos of the world. Those are non-local companies I can get behind (and their Boston expansions are in the works). On a related note, I’m continually disappointed by the fact that Syracuse-based Dinosaur Bar-B-Que still hasn’t expanded here.”