I'm a big red meat eater (and pork), so I was surprised that not one made the list. I guess that was just in the nature of the restaurants I went to this year. Not one great steak house among them.
Every time I came upon a dish in the archives I raved about, I copied and pasted it. Then I looked at my list and had to eliminate a few. Finally I tried to put them in order of fabulousness and memorability.
Here's my list: ...
1) Grilled oysters on the half shell in a lemon-butter chive sauce so luxurious it ought to be against the law. (Oregon Grille in Cockeysville)
2) Rockfish stuffed with crab imperial. This was probably the best version of this classic I've ever tasted, with nice big lumps of crab, just enough mayonnaise, and beautifully cooked fresh fish. It will knock your socks off. (Tark's Grill in Lutherville)
3) Seafood bouillabaisse "Thai style." It was beautifully presented, with fine somen noodles, large scallops, pink shrimp and bits of lobster meat. A confetti of fresh pineapple added an unexpected note of sweetness to the spicy coconut broth. (Kings Contrivance in Columbia)
4) The delicate, beautiful cioppino, with shrimp, scallops, clams, calamari and whatever fish is freshest delicately swimming in a saffron-tinged broth with chopped fresh tomatoes. (Fin in Fells Point)
5) The creamy risotto studded with pine nuts and flavored with fresh basil, with grilled shrimp sitting jauntily on top. It's an enticing dish that would be a good supper with a salad. (Crush in Belvedere Square)
6) The best fish and chips any of us has had in Baltimore, with very fresh, white, flaky cod in a beer batter, homemade tartar sauce and salty gourmet chips instead of french fries. (Corks in Federal Hill)
7) Tender young half-chicken, impossibly juicy and flavored with an edge of smoke. Creamy grits and fresh chard complete an almost perfect plate. (Woodberry Kitchen in Woodberry/Hampden)
8) A seafood version of pho created especially for Baltimore, or so the menu says, with a delicately flavorful broth, a meaty crab claw, a mussel on the half shell, a shrimp, a scallop and a square of perch. (Baltimore Pho in the Hollins Market area)
9) Very fine vegetable lasagna, made with a touch of truffle oil. But even without the truffle oil I would have loved the just-tender pasta layered with perfectly cooked eggplant, squashes, red pepper and more. (Stone Mill Bakery in Lutherville)
10) Moist citrus poundcake, soaked in honey, with a delicate homemade honey ice cream. (Meli in Fells Point)
(Photo of Seafood Bouillabaise "Thai Style" by Algerina Perna/Sun photographer)