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We Did Not See That Coming: Top Dining Surprises

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Verdant Tea's David Duckler
Verdant Tea's David Duckler
Joy Summers

As is the tradition at Eater, our closeout of the year is a survey of friends, industry types and bloggers. For our first question, friends of Eater weigh-in on their top restaurant, biggest regrets and what caught them completely off-guard.

Q. What was the biggest dining surprise of 2014?

James Norton, editor of Heavy Table and author of the "Wendigo's Credit Card": "I think all the assorted shenanigans over at Verdant Tea. Artisan rootbeer! Kombucha in bottles! Dinner service! Selling the restaurant to other people and then moving! It's essentially impossible to keep up with what they're doing, but it's always worthwhile to make the effort."

Jessica Fleming, food critic for the Pioneer Press. "That the first few bites I took at the Spoon and Stable preview actually lived up to the hype."

Stephanie March senior food editor Mpls. St. Paul Magazine. "For me, Third Bird which came out of no where and is my favorite secret clubhouse in which to go and sneak a bit a of day drinking. "

The Bird’s alley entryway Joy Summers

The Third Bird's bar. Photo by Joy Summers

Jason DeRusha anchor, WCCO; contributing editor Mpls. St. Paul Magazine. "Travail. I have to be honest, I did not like the original Travail. I valued what they did, the passionate fan base, but my meals there were uneven at best. A 10-course with two mazing courses, two terrible, and six good. Sloppy service. It just wasn't for me. But the new Travail is perfect. It's organized, orchestrated chaos, instead of just chaos. Because the entire kitchen is cooking the same course (almost banquet-style), the precision and technique and flavor is so good. The new restaurant is tons of fun and really exciting from a food perspective."

Mecca Bos, food critic City Pages. "Lucia's selling surprised the heck out of me, but I'm happy for her. That lady put in her time, and then some. She's a personal hero of mine."

Josie Franske, editorial assistant Minnesota Monthly. "Noooo, Nye’s, noooo. The shuttering of the Gray House (maybe less of a surprise than a heartbreak). And the massive turnover at La Belle Vie."

Joy Summers, editor Eater Minneapolis. "The return f the Goodfellows space. All of St. Paul was eyeballing the Lex and all of sudden those guys are re-opening another historic restaurant space? And they've snagged Lorin Zinter, one of the best front of house pros in the city? What the what? I just hope it all works. That is a lot of talent and a ridiculous amount of work they're taking on."