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Restaurant Experts on The Year's Biggest Dining Surprises

Haven, which houses Cove.
Haven, which houses Cove.
Star Chefs

As is the tradition at Eater, our closeout of the year is a survey of friends and food writers. This year, we asked the group eight questions, from meal of the year to top restaurant newcomers. We'll be posting their answers each day until we ring in the new year. Responses are related in no particular order; all are cut, pasted and unedited herein. Readers, please add your survey answers in the comments.

Mai Pham, food critic for Houston Press and freelance writer for My Table magazine, 002 Houston and Forbes Travel Guide
: The closure of Haven and Cove seemed to come from nowhere.

Jodie Eisenhardt, Eater Houston contributor, freelance writer and marketing consultant at Two Chicks Communications: The dizzying number of openings, delays, chef changes and closings.

Dutch Small, proprietor of Forma Revivo and marketing consultant/publicist at Immersioncy Public Relations: Justin Basye's departure from Museum Park Cafe.

Hank Lewis, food blogger at Hank on Food: Mr Peeples on Bagby was one of the biggest and best surprises of this past year. This is not your average steakhouse and not some typical restaurant either. It is in an interesting location just by downtown and chefs Pedro Silva and Angel Rios have poured a lot of creativity, skill, style and hard work into making a wonderful selection of dishes that are full of flavour and not the typical steakhouse fare. The interior environment is over the top opulent and needs to be seen at night. Though some might argue they are still finding their voice, the food and the ambiance speak for themselves.

Anthony Calleo, proprietor and chef of Pi Pizza Truck: The rogue wave proliferation of fried chicken.

Chris Frankel, food enthusiast and bartender at Captain Foxheart's Bad News Bar: 2014 was full of rapid personnel shuffles in the industry. It's not surprising if you work in the business, because the flood of new openings means more opportunities to jump ship, and tighter labor budgets mean people understandably have their eyes out for more lucrative gigs.  But I definitely did my share of double takes seeing industry colleagues leaving restaurants that were publicly built around them just months after opening.

Eric Sandler, former Eater Houston editor, food writer for CultureMap, monthly contributor to Houston Matters and The Cleverley Show: The biggest dining surprise was how much I liked my meals at Dosi. The biggest dining world surprise was Justin Basye's sudden departure from Museum Park Cafe.

Shepard Ross, restauranteur (Glass Wall, Brooklyn Athletic Club, Pax Americana and forthcoming The Dell): Haven getting sold.  The proverbial "rug" being pulled out from underneath Randy Evans and Philippe Gaston. 

Marcy de Luna, editor of Zagat Houston and freelance writer for CultureMap: Justin Basye leaving Museum Park Cafe.