My friend and food blogger Lakshmi Jagad came up with this brilliant idea of sharing her five memorable meals ever eaten: It could be anything that makes the meal memorable – the food, the place, the place you were in your life when you ate, the company, the weather, the ambience – heck, the guy who served the food!

After several restaurant reviews, chef tastings, throwing themed parties and attending get-togethers, it was really hard for me to pick my top five from this year. But after considerable thought, here’s my list.

5. Babbo’s – An impromptu dinner at Mario Batali’s famous joint in New York City. My friend from NYC and I walked in without reservations after maneuvering the crowds of the gay parade for two hours and got a table right away. I had been wanting to go to this place for number of years. We ordered a eight-course pasta tasting menu. It was delightful! Each dish was simply prepared (reminded me of Italy) with bold flavors and fresh pasta. Ever the desserts (there were four) were worth licking the plates off.

4. Sea Glass – I have always been a big fan of lobsters but feel cheated now after tasting the one’s in Maine. While every lobster I ate there (and I had quite a few) was cooked and seasoned to perfection, the one that stood out most was at the Sea Glass restaurant at the Inn by the Sea. Not only that, every course in the dinner had a distinct quality to it. Using only locally sourced ingredients, cooking everything from scratch and a top notch chef – all together created a memorable experience. The Inn also had a warm, inviting ambiance that blended well with the comforting dinner.

3. Citizen Public House – While on a press trip to Scottsdale, Arizona, I dined at this fine establishment. Call it a cross between Eastern Europe and Southern US, creativity at its best. The cocktails were as imaginative as they could be blending ingredients that you may otherwise not even think of together. I can’t forget the Mac and Cheese for adults! The original chopped salad (which has its own Facebook page) has now made its way to my dinner table at home.

2. Uchiko – Dined with a dear friend while in Austin for a conference. The cuisine was “sushi of a different genre.” Perhaps the freshest, most flavorful fish I have ever tasted, prepared in a manner that is different from any other sushi place in the world. The presentation was splendid, a

1. No. 246 – Didn’t know what to expect of this new restaurant opened in downtown Decatur. My husband and I went with our new friends (who we met randomly at the Dogwood Festival earlier this year) for a chef’s table dinner. It was just the four of us at bar stools overlooking the kitchen, enjoying bottles of wine, good company and exceptional food. Chef Drew Belline gave us some of his best creations using only the finest ingredients. In terms of quality of food, this is rated #1 on my list!lmost too artful too eat. Take a look at the dessert. Even the service was exceptional!


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