The best restaurant cookbooks are like time capsules, preserving a moment, a feeling. That’s what this year’s stack of restaurant-focused books achieves — with variable levels of success. Don’t miss chef Wylie Dufresne’s look back at wd~50 or the new two-volume set from NYC’s highly lauded experiential dining room Eleven Madison Park. Casual restaurants, from the Publican in Chicago to Juhu Beach Club in Oakland, also got the book treatment this year. Each collection stands alone as a testament to the hard work of a team pushing for one pristine goal. Starting with the first time I ate at there, shortly after its opening in 2008, the Publican has been my favorite restaurant. It was an instantaneous love — the room, the food, a swirling feeling of commensality and broad-shouldered abundance. So for me, the promise of this book, Cheers to the Publican, a heavyweight, beautifully typeset volume by chef-restaurateur Paul Kahan, his executive chef, Cosmo Goss, and writer Rachel Holtzman, is great, and the stakes are awfully high: Can I get the magic of my favorite restaurant in all the world without the hassle of a weekend with my parents? (Love you, mom and dad.) The answer is no, n...