Between the explosion of farm-to-table dinners, burger joints, taco bars, pizza wars and new restaurant openings in 2011, there was little time left to be hungry in Connecticut. In fact, it's hard to imagine we did anything else but eat. Below are the top ten most-talked about CTbites news stories of the year and some of the most-anticipated openings of 2012.
Feel free to add your own thoughts, observations, as well as predictions for 2012 and Happy New Year from all of us at CTbites.
Connecticut's Taco Moment
With newcomers Bodega, Tacuba, bartaco and now Oaxaca Kitchen (formerly Westport Thali) getting into the game, it may appear that we are experiencing a "taco moment." Compare these new school taco joints with our favorite old school ones such as El Charrito, Casa Villa and Panchos Tacos, and it's clearly becoming a crazy taco world, and we all just live in it.
leFarm's Bill Taibe Opens New Restaurant in 2012
Fans of leFarm have been waiting for what Jamed Beard-nominated Bill Taibe will do next. Earlier this year we were happy to announce the wait will soon be over, and Taibe's second yet-to-be-named restaurant will open in 2012 in Saugatuck.
Stamford Pizza Wars
You know what they say. Never discuss religion, politics or pizza in mixed company. The battle between Colony and newcomer Rico's pizza in Stamford heated up this summer causing many of us to shuttle between both joints to settle for ourselves which pie was best. The verdict? Competition is a good thing.
No longer a trend, Farm Dinners are now a right of passage. This query on farm dinners turned up 160 instances of posts or comments on our site. When done well, they are an amazing way to experience a spectacular evening of seasonal fare en plein air. To avoid Farm Dinner fatigue in 2012, here's hoping the new year will bring a fresh take on these typically high-priced and exclusive evenings.
Community Plates & CT Food Bank
By far, the best trend this year has been an awareness and motivation among chefs, restaurants and foodies to give back. The object of our affection? Organizations such as Community Plates and Connecticut Food Bank. If you make any New Years resolution, make it one that supports those less fortunate.
Tarry Lodge Enoteca in Westport
The award for most anticipated and most overrated opening of 2011 would go to the Batali-Bastianich outpost of Tarry Lodge. Although the pizza rarely dissapoints, our experience and reader scuttlebutt consistently points out poor service and a lackluster menu. Here's hoping they step it up in 2012.
Shake Shack Opens in Westport
Can there be too many burger options? The opening of Connecticut's first Shake Shack was memorable. Thousands showed up for its opening days and the lines have barely let up for that signature trifecta of burgers, fries and concrete. Perhaps not the best burger in Connecticut (our shout-out below stakes many readers claims), but one of our favorite experiences.
Artisan Restaurant Opens at the Delamar Southport
One of the classiest new restaurant offerings this year and our pick for "best patio people watching," Artisan's opening in the Southport Delamar reminds us that when we're not eating pizza or pounding burgers, we actually clean up quite well.
Elm Opening "Soon" in New Canaan
The award for biggest tease would have to go to elm in New Canaan. Those of us lucky enough to snag tickets to The Glass House Dine with Design Event got to preview Chef/Owner Brian Lewis' modern American fare and as a result have set the bar high for his new spot threatening to open since last June.
Stamford saw the opening of two much-talked about "gastrobars" right around the corner from each other. Zaza and Bar Rosso both embrace a trend towards small plates, strong cocktails and Italian influence. We expect this small plates & cocktail trend to continue to creep into 2012.