Laura Shunk's 10 Best Meals of 2013
2013 will go in the culinary books as the year of the Cronut, of Isaan fare, of dialed up Asian flavors, of one-item fast casual restaurant concepts, and of a return to vegetables -- the pork era, it seems, finally came to a close. I averaged two meals out per day in this city as I chased down stories, and I had a few really stellar bites. None as good as those I've listed here, though. These are my 10 best meals of 2013.
White Bear's wontons
10. Bhojan, 102 Lexington Avenue, 212-213-9615
Bhojan started as a Seamless staple for me and morphed into a permanent fixture in my restaurant rotation. The place retired the gujarati dumplings -- my very favorite dish on the menu -- but I took solace in the daal, pumpkin sabji, and malai kofta. Order a thali if you want to taste an array. Oh, and this spot is totally vegetarian -- but it's possible you won't notice that even if you're a carnivore.
9. Peter Pan Bakery, 727 Manhattan Avenue, Brooklyn, 718-389-3676
My birthday present to myself this year was a solitary lunch at the Peter Pan Bakery counter, where I ate a couple of donuts while I did the crossword (and pondered comparing answers with the guy sitting across from me doing the same thing). I'm into the fancy rounds that line the shelves at spots like Dough and Dough Loco, but the donuts here are like the Platonic versions of the old-fashioned pastries I grew up with. I'm especially partial to the white cream, a powdered sugar-coated pouch packed dense with fluffy pastry cream.
8. Charlie Bird, 5 King Street, 212-235-7133
Of all the restaurants that opened this year, none wooed me back so regularly as Charlie Bird, a spot I found myself suggesting for everything from special occasion feasts to a casual after-work glass of wine and a snack. I learned quickly to order the scallops on each visit and to let the wine team control my vinous fate. And I frequently forced my table to order every pasta on the menu.