Seattle Times restaurant critic Providence Cicero ranks the best dishes she ate this year.

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1. Putting porridge on the menu at Canlis was a gutsy move, but Brady Williams upends expectations right and left. Raw geoduck, green strawberries and wood sorrel elevated this not-so-humble barley porridge, cooked in a milky broth laced with butter, clam juice, shiso and white soy dashi. It could have been gruel; instead it was the dish of the year.

2576 Aurora Ave. N., Seattle; 206-283-3313, canlis.com

2. At Upper Bar Ferdinand, a bundle of sticky rice is removed from its clay cooking pot, toasted on the binchotan and served with fermented vegetables. A bit of each wrapped in a piece of crackling nori neatly encapsulates the elemental cookery that chef Matt Dillon and his crew do so beautifully here.

1424 11th Ave., Seattle; 206-693-2434, barferdinandseattle.com

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3. Perfecte Rocher’s seven-course tasting menu at Tarsan i Jane surprised and delighted at every turn, but what lingers most strongly in memory was the final savory course, a pot of arroz caldos — rice, beans, vegetables and whole chanterelles simmered in a bewitching swirl of saffron and smoke.

4012 Leary Way N.W., Seattle; 206-557-7059, tarsanijane.com

4. Beef in all its richly marbled glory had its moment this year. The most luxurious mouthful? Bateau’s butter-basted cote de boeuf from Carlton Farm ties with the vividly seasoned Mishima Reserve rib-eye cap at The Butcher’s Table.

1040 E. Union St., Seattle; 206-900-8699, restaurantbateau.com

2121 Westlake Ave., Seattle; 206-209-5990, thebutcherstable.com

5. Josh Henderson works three kinds of yeast into spaghetti lievito e pepe, Vestal’s intriguing remake of the ubiquitous cacio e pepe. Every twirl of the fork delivered a thrill.

513 Westlake Ave. N., Seattle; 206-456-2660 or vestalseattle.com

6. No one captured summer in a single dish better than Copine’s Shaun McCrain, who gilded his polenta-and-mascarpone-filled agnolotti with brown butter and nestled them among fresh corn, lobster mushrooms and mission figs.

6460 24th Ave. N.W., Seattle; 206-258-2467, copineseattle.com

7. Maximillian Petty’s crispy pig head candy bar at Eden Hill is a breaded and deep-fried amalgam of head cheese and fermented black beans served in a frothy, fruity Champagne sauce spiced with cinnamon. It’s just one of several audacious dishes from this up-and-coming young chef.

Best of 2016

The OG sandwich — fried chicken, dill pickles, tangy cabbage slaw and mayonnaise on a toasted Franz bun — at Sunset Fried Chicken Sandwiches just might be the best of its kind in town. (Johnny Andrews/The Seattle Times)
The OG sandwich — fried chicken, dill pickles, tangy cabbage slaw and mayonnaise on a toasted Franz bun — at Sunset Fried Chicken Sandwiches just might be the best of its kind in town. (Johnny Andrews/The Seattle Times)

2209 Queen Anne Ave. N., Seattle; 206-708-6836, edenhillrestaurant.com

8. A morsel of tempura-fried geoduck belly dipped in oyster mayonnaise was the most unforgettable bite at Scout’s chef’s counter.

110 Stewart St., Seattle; 206-623-4600, thompsonhotels.com/hotels/thompson-seattle/eat-drink

9.Little Uncle’s khao soi gai, its gentle coconut broth roughed up with red curry paste and house-pickled mustard greens, is a chicken noodle soup guaranteed to rouse the weariest of souls.

1523 E. Madison St., Seattle; 206-549-6507, littleuncleseattle.com

10.Raconteur’s drive-in burger is the bespoke version of a mass-market cheeseburger. High-quality beef replaces mystery meat and they tuck plenty of house-fermented pickles under the soft bun.

5041 Wilson Ave. S., Seattle; 206-492-7959, raconteurseattle.com

11. Omakase at Wataru is a serial pleasure. Delicately straw-smoked king mackerel and madai stood out among Kotaro Kumita’s array of expertly prepared sushi.

2400 N.E. 65th St., Seattle; 206-525-2073, wataruseattle.com

12.Sushi Kashiba’s Crispy Rex Sole not only includes dainty fried fillets of fish but also the deep-fried skeleton, a crisp, salty, delicious bonus.

86 Pine St., Seattle; 206-441-8844, sushikashiba.com

13. The Reuben Mille Feuille at Bateau is a haute couture Reuben sandwich, cleverly constructed of braised brisket, smoked beef belly, pickled cabbage and Russian dressing layered between rye crisps.

1040 E. Union St., Seattle; 206-900-8699, restaurantbateau.com

14. At Mbar, Jason Stratton paired duck confit with scene-stealing heirloom beans, bitter greens and baby turnips awash in rich, vinegar-jolted duck stock.

400 Fairview Ave. N., Seattle; 206-457-8287, mbarseattle.com

15. At Vestal, puffy fried salmon skins seasoned with yuzu kosho escorted salmon slow smoked over cedar under a blanket of butter and soy sauce — by far the best salmon I had this year.

513 Westlake Ave. N., Seattle; 206-456-2660 or vestalseattle.com

16. At No Anchor, Jeffrey Vance’s beguiling pelmeni dumplings, tinted red with beet juice, were plumped with potato and fresh cheese and served with cultured cream and pickled turnips.

2505 Second Ave., Seattle; noanchorbar.com

17. Tiny potato gnocchi were delightful companions to Michael Gifford’s rich lamb neck sugo at Marine Hardware.

4741 Ballard Ave N.W., Seattle; 206-257-4390, ethanstowellrestaurants.com

18. Lia Lira’s brioche French toast at Bramble House — an inch-thick, golden-brown slab topped with seasonal grilled fruit and whipped mascarpone — was not only worth getting out of bed for, it was worth a ferry ride to Vashon.

17123 Vashon Highway S.W., Vashon; 206-408-7159, bramblevashon.com

19. Fresh hearts of palm — a rare treat — turned up raw, cooked and pickled at Copine in a playful romp involving coconut flan, rainbow carrot curls and ginger aigre-doux.

6460 24th Ave. N.W., Seattle; 206-258-2467, copineseattle.com

20.Gracia’s cochinita pibil comes with xni pec, a fiery habanero relish whose name means dog’s nose. Yours may drip like a spaniel’s, too, but every bite of that tender, fragrant pork was worth it.

5313 Ballard Ave. N.W., Seattle; 206-268-0217, graciaseattle.com

21. Fresh squid-ink noodles and an array of superior seafood made for a gorgeous capellini di mare at Carmine’s.

88 102nd Ave. N.E., Bellevue; 425-786-0160, carminesbellevue.com

22.Nirmal’s stately chocolate layer cake was an unexpectedly brilliant match with chickoo ice cream, made from the tropical fruit sapota.

106 Occidental Ave. S., Seattle; 206-388-2196, nirmalseattle.com

23.Harvest Beat gave a vegan wink-and-nod to tuna poke in a glorious beet salad with sesame seeds, seaweed, onion blossoms and goose tongue greens.

1711 N. 45th St., Seattle; 206-547-1348, harvestbeat.com

24.Kedai Makan’s crave-worthy pineapple, cucumber and basil salad brings on the funk with a dressing of fish sauce, dried shrimp and toasted coconut paste.

1802 Bellevue Ave., Seattle; kedaimakansea.com

25.Eve’s vinaigrette-dressed “hot bowl” introduced me to freekeh. The earthy, green wheat is one of many grains, vegetables, nuts and seeds gathered in this hearty, wholesome, I-wished-it-was-bottomless bowl.

704 N. 34th Street, Seattle; 206-900-7186, evefremont.com

 

Here’s to more great eating in 2017. Happy New Year!