Looking back on a delicious year

  • Article by: RICK NELSON , Star Tribune
  • Updated: January 6, 2012 - 4:10 PM

In an unusually delicious year for new restaurants, critic Rick Nelson reminisces on his 10 favorite dishes of 2011.

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Deep-fried delights

Doughnut lovers everywhere owe a debt of gratitude to Mojo Monkey Donuts owner Lisa Clark, who crafts a raised doughnut of exquisite proportions. Unlike their vapid supermarket counterparts, Clark's version, with its sourdough-, potato- and parsnip-enriched dough, has a welcome heft and moist, not-too-sweet bite. The originality doesn't end there: Clark finishes them with a tangy mango-honey glaze and a sprinkle of chewy organic coconut. To say that they are the Twin Cities' best doughnut is not doing them justice.

Photo: Glen Stubbe, Star Tribune

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It's probably safe to say that 2011 was a watershed year for the Twin Cities dining scene. A record number of influential newcomers blazed their way into the hearts and appetites of local diners, and an impressive roster of familiar practitioners remade themselves in new, genre-shaking ways.

While sifting through the mountain of menus, cocktail napkins and crumpled receipts -- all scribbled with notes -- that constitute my poorly organized dining diary, my initial conclusion is that paring down countless meals to just 10 memorable dishes is going to be a tremendous challenge.

Not that I'm complaining. It's a good kind of problem, one that's rooted in the ever- expanding diversity of the Twin Cities' culinary community. Better to have many from which to choose, rather than few, right?

Here are my choices, and have a happy new year of eating.

  
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    Rick Nelson dishes about his favorite dishes...

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  • Steamed tilapia custard

  • In Season: Oysters with pork belly.

  • Sopranos Italian Kitchen: Porchetta with rosemary.

  • Masu Sushi & Robata: Pork Belly Ramen.

  • Wise Acre Eatery: Grilled snap peas

  • Sun Street Breads: Biscuits and gravy.

  • Meritage: Lobster in gelee.

  • Heidi's: lamb shank

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