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Food Writers & Experts on 2013's Restaurant Breakups

As is the tradition at Eater, our closeout of the year is a survey of friends, industry types, bloggers, and readers. Here's last year's run-down for the nostalgic. So far we've covered restaurant standbys, top newcomers, and more. Readers, please add your thoughts to the comments.
jeffreysrevamp-123113.jpegJeffrey's. [Photo: Patrick Michels/EATX]

Q: Which restaurant did you break up with this year?
Andrea Grimes, Eater Austin editor emeritus and senior political reporter at RH Reality Check: Can you break up with a restaurant you only dated once? Because it is not going to work out between me and Jeffrey's. People say the place has a Royal Tenenbaums vibe, but for me it felt much more Rich Kids of Instagram. I haven't gotten this impression at similarly high-priced restaurants--Congress, for example, is an absolute pleasure and I love saving up for a meal there. But it felt deeply weird to be spending a week's pay on a mediocre dinner (to be fair, the steak was phenomenal) while a guy at the next table got hammered on $14 cocktails and spent two hours singing showtunes to rapt table-mates wearing yoga pants. I don't have another $300 to spend on finding out whether Larry McGuire ever figured out how to make an edible quail, or if he fixed the martini cart that couldn't make it to our table because, and seriously this was the excuse, the carpet was too plush for the wheels. Jeffrey's is not my scene, and I think both of us are totally cool with that.

Melanie Haupt, restaurant critic for The Chronicle and author of Historic Austin Restaurants: I really hate to say this, but I broke up with Franklin. The list of things I'm willing to wait three hours in line for is extremely short, and barbecue doesn't make the cut. Especially when I can get excellent 'cue (and corn casserole and banana pudding!) at Stiles Switch in a fraction of the time.

Jessica Dupuy, food and wine writer with CultureMap, Texas Monthly and Fodor's: The Driskill Grill. For sentimental reasons, it used to be a favorite. It's where I got engaged. But that was when Chefs David Bull and Josh Watkins were still at the helm. A recent visit this year, made me realize some memories are worth keeping in the past. Sadly, it's struggled to keep up with Austin's evolving culinary prowess and you can't help but feel you're stuck somewhere back in time.

Jane Ko, editor at A Taste of Koko and food photographer: East Side King on the drag - the quality of the ramen and snacks has dropped. ESK at Liberty Bar is much better.

Meredith Bethune, CultureMap and Serious Eats contributor : I'm too scared to name names, but a former favorite restaurant comes to mind immediately. This year they served me an oyster that was so rotten it tasted like it had just been dropped in the toilet. It sort of ruined the entire meal, and they didn't make much of an effort to correct it. That night we were also served a salad that tasted like it had been assembled from week-old refrigerator leftovers. I won't be back.

Melody Fury, Serious Eats contributor and blogger at Gourmet Fury: Takoba. I used to love their brunch but the quality has gotten sloppy. I don't care how cheap their mimosa carafes are if they're consistently lukewarm.

Tom Thornton, Eater Austin contributor and freelance food writer: A diner's biggest disappointment is finding that a really popular spot is coasting on their rep. There were a couple of these this year; hopefully I'll hear better things about them down the road.

Paula Forbes, deputy editor of Eater National and Eater Austin editor emeritus: Counter Cafe, sadly, after a few mediocre meals and one meal that was memorable for all the wrong reasons. Also, I don't want to speak ill of the dead, but let's just say there was a shutter this year that shocked a lot of people that didn't surprise me in the slightest.

Raphael Brion, editor of Eater National: Jeffrey's. They put my dining companion in tears because she had the audacity to send a dish back. After the sarcastic, "Sorry it was not to your liking," they offered another dish on the house. But when the GM or whoever delivered it, he stood there, stared at us, and asked, "How's the dish?" "It's fine." "Fine? Not good? Not great?" Bye. Surprising because I very much like Larry McGuire's other restaurants.

Meghan McCarron, editor, Eater Austin: Not sure if this is a full break up, but I had two straight-up disappointing dinners at Hillside Farmacy earlier this year. Dishes were messily plated and unevenly heated, and the flavors were bland. I've still gone back for lunch, but in general I've been much more drawn to the under-hyped and always lovely Blue Dahlia down the street.
· All Year in Eater 2013 [EATX]