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Best Of 2013: Restaurant Wine List

Best Of 2013: Neighborhood Restaurant: South

We went to the Blue Star to celebrate a friend's birthday on a recent Friday night. When the birthday turned into a marriage proposal, the staff took it in stride. The next night, while having a pre-movie drink at the bar, we saw our waiter from the night before. He said he'd had another proposal at a table that evening. That's what happens at a fantastic neighborhood restaurant: Quick meals or drinks can be grabbed, or life-changing moments can be hosted. And about the wine? You might consider perusing their website before visiting, given that the lists are the oenophile's War and Peace, only far less boring. (And those wines are even half-price on Sundays.) — Laura Eurich

Best Of 2013: Bartender

Nate Windham, 40, has been with the Blue Star for three years and has become known for spiking his spirits with a little history. Sure, you've had a great Manhattan before, but was it made with the original ingredients: true pre-Prohibition-era maraschino cherries, Russell's Rye Whiskey and Antica Formula Sweet Vermouth? I doubt it. In line with that old-school approach, Windham himself is a throwback — a true gentleman, not the kind of bartender flashing around and posturing for a tip. If you haven't yet, it's worth coming in and fighting your way through his regulars. — Joshua Michael Torres

Bites 2013: Almond Rosemary Crusted Salmon

From the "rooted entrees" section of the cocktail lounge menu comes this favorite dish, which places a focus on simple ingredients in less-is-more fashion. Almonds are crushed and mixed with rosemary leaves for a gluten-free salmon coating, which sees a browning during a pan sear. A honey Worcestershire hits umami notes while rice pilaf gets a paprika dusting and salt-and-pepper rain over haricot verts. ($16)

Price: $$$

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