Restaurant notes: A year of eating -- mission accomplished

Lauren Lynch with Tim Engelke.

In a wild bit of gustatory derring-do, Lauren Lynch set out early last year to eat all of Philly Mag's "239 Dishes You Must Try Now" by Dec. 31.

"I knew I was going to stay in the area" after graduating in May from Villanova University, "and I wanted to get to know the neighborhoods."

She started with the grilled cheese and tomato soup from Jones.

Chicken vindaloo and sweet-potato casserole ... Peking duck and green-curry summer rolls ...

She's now just one dish from the finish line, and she recaps the experience on her blog here.

Reaching her goal -- albeit a few days after her self-imposed deadline -- "was really nice," said Lynch, now an analyst at a commercial real estate brokerage firm.

"But it was the lessons learned along the way that made it special."

Lynch enlisted friends and acquaintances, and got help along the way from chefs, managers, PR people, and at least one journalist. (The look of pleasure spreading across Lynch's face as she tried the chicken-liver rigatoni at Osteria and the hummus at Zahav was unforgettable.)

She organized an Old City dine-around to benefit Philabundance so she could sample the dishes at Chloe, Zento, La Famiglia, and Positano Coast.

"Never rush your meal" was one takeaway. "It's all about the people you're eating with. Good food does lead to good conversation."

And to love.

She had taken time off from her quest when she met attorney Tim Engelke. "He nudged me back into it."

She estimated the overall cost at about $4,500. "I actually stopped counting, it was so depressing," she said. And forget about the calories.

High points: Honey in Doylestown, for the black tea-glazed spare ribs with ginger ice cream, and Morimoto for the giant rock oyster that's not even on the menu. Management procured the oyster and the chefs created a dish out of it. 

In truth, Lynch is actually up to #238. "I left off one meal to demonstrate the point that you should save certain things for special occasions," she said.

At some point, she will get to Birchrunville Store Cafe, home of the butterscotch cake.