2009 was a year to remember. We officially launched Plato Putas in March and have been eating our way from city-to-city over the past 10 months. We’ve feasted on the finest, the obscure and the downright obscene. Our conversations about food couldn’t have happened without the talented chefs who make digging in so pleasurable that we’re inspired to document our eating experiences. So please join us, and some of our fellow food lovers, as we salute our favourite restaurants of 2009.

Suresh Doss, Publisher of SpotlightToronto.com
I’ve eaten at Nota Bene on Queen Street in Toronto many times and have never had a bad experience. The service is meticulous yet not overbearing. The food is just delicious. I finally had the chance to have David Lee’s private 60-day dry-aged Ribsteak earlier this fall. Buttery and tender. Finish off with a divinely good sticky toffee pudding. The best part? You don’t need a second mortgage to have a phenomenal meal.

Meghan Coyne, Recipe Writer for The Martha Stewart Show
Its soooo cliché, but my parents took me to The Waverly Inn in New York City for my birthday this past year and I had the absolute best time! I actually had a broken leg (and ankle!) for my birthday this year, but the staff was more than accommodating and we had a delightful table in the garden out back (it was May). Of course, the food was divine as well. I actually couldn’t decide between so many items on the menu. I would go back in a heartbeat…. If only I could get another reservation.

David Lee, Executive Chef of Nota Bene
Asador Etxebarri
in Spain. The food is cooked on wood over an open fire.

Jennifer Lakhan, Pastry Chef, Instructor and Program Developer at George Brown’s Centre for Hospitality and Culinary Arts
I finally went to Colborne Lane in Toronto and it was not disappointing. Not only was the food great, the service is bar none and the chef is very accommodating to food preferences, allergies etc. (which is a rare thing.) I know a million people have said this before me, but have the nitro ice cream. It really is as good as they say.

Erin McKenna, Chef and Owner of BabyCakes NYC
Vinegar Hill House in Brooklyn. The food is beautiful, simple, expertly prepared and such a great value. It’s such a special place.

Daniel Muia, Chef and Owner of Mogette Bistro
The best meal I had in 2008 was at Mildreds Temple Kitchen in Toronto. I love the space. My restaurant is very small, so when I’m in a big restaurant now I get a little goo goo ga ga. The roast saddle of lamb with creamy polenta and fiddle heads was incredible. I wish I had thought of the ricotta dumpling dish with smoked bacon first, and you can never go wrong with Lindt Chocolate ice cream profiteroles.

Tessa Liebman, Executive Chef of Shiraz Events
I would say the most unique, intimate and decadent experience was at Brooklyn Fare. PP’s did a great write up and dutifully, if not embarrassingly, photographed every morsel from the parade of posh, fried amuses (foie gras balls) to the scallop with sweetbreads and vanilla demi to the Italian plums cooked for 24 hours. I almost died when the chef, Cesar Ramirez, micro-planed almost an entire golf-ball-sized truffle into tiny sake-like cups of cod cream. I don’t think I’ve ever eaten that much truffle in one bite before. It was very intimate, precise, and with a whole specialty-goods store full of product to mess with, food costs seemed not a concern so our meal was cheapie-cheap (comparatively) and it was also BYOB!!!!! Also, it was great to run into Magdalena who had an amazing bottle of cult California wine. If only they could dim the lights a bit, it could be much sexier.

Ben Van Leeuwen, Founder of Van Leeuwen Artisan Ice Cream
I saved up and took my wife Laura to Le Bernadin in NYC for her birthday. It was magical.

Gordon Mackie, Executive Corporate Chef for SIR Corp
Dellacosta in Chicago because they have the best bread — ever.

Roger Mooking, Executive Chef at Eatalia, Nyood and Kultura
It is a tie between Loire in Toronto and Blacktree in Burlington, ON. Blacktree was for a special occasion and my wife loved it. The food was amazing, and the chef is a good friend of mine. Loire is run by one of my favourite people and the most underrated chef in the city, Jean Charles Dupois. The food is deliciously simple food in JC’s spirit; his food is as generous and engaged as he is.

Jaspal, Plato Putas
My most pleasurable, memorable night occurred at the Brooklyn Fare. For a mere $70, I consumed fourteen dishes ranging from shaved French truffles to poached plums. It was the most delicious, intimate, mouth-watering meal I’ve ever experienced. It’s gonna be hard to top that in 2010, but my taste buds are looking forward to the year-long culinary search.

Celine, Plato Putas
I am a big lover of sushi, so Bruce Bu’s restaurant Yuzu in Toronto is my favourite place for raw fish. His delicate touch makes every piece sublime, whether it’s a marinated onion sliver, a dash of minced roasted garlic or a few leaves of an edible flower. Favourites include the Spicy Scallop Maki, Sushi Dinner Deluxe and Black Cod Gindara. Hands down, this is the place that made my tummy the happiest in 2009.

Now it’s your turn to tell us about your favourite meal of 2009. Where did you have it, and what made it stand above all the rest?