Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Best Dishes, 2009

Aw yeah, kiiiiiiiids. Look who’s back with another blog entry—in the same week!

Yesterday, we tackled best and worst dining experiences of 2009. Today we move on to Best Dishes. I’m going to skip “Worst Dishes” entirely because I have a feeling that might be in bad taste. All restaurants have bad days, and creating a dish seems like a deeply personal process. A chef should be allowed to fail without worrying that an experiment will come back to haunt him or her on some “Worst Dish” list... right? (Not that any chef is losing sleep over this here blog.)

But enough of that. Let us move on to reveal… the best dishes of 2009!

#10. Ravioli with Short Ribs and Foie Gras in Truffle Butter, X20 Xaviar’s on the Hudson
So much flavor and decadence packed into one bite. Absolutely wonderful, just like Rock Star Chef Peter Kelly.

#9. Fried Oysters, Pearl Oyster Bar
Better than Pearl’s famous lobster roll.

#8. ShackBurgers and Vanilla Milkshake, Shake Shack
Might not be the fanciest dish on the list, but the tummy wants what the tummy wants. And when my friend Eileen and I waited to be seated for our reservations at Eleven Madison Park, part of us just wanted to skip the whole charade and walk across the street for Shackburgers.

#7. Key Lime Pie, Rraci’s Ristorante
I can’t decide if points should be added or subtracted for the above presentation. Cause the pie sort of looks like a hat an Avatar would wear if it were being fancy or going to church. Either way, the dessert is the best Key Lime er…Pie I’ve ever tasted.

#6. Chocolate Dome, Tarry Lodge
If Rraci’s Key Lime Pie and Tarry Lodge’s Chocolate Dome were in a Dessert-Off, however, I’d have to go with the simplicity of Tarry Lodge’s Chocolate Dome. The gooeyness of the chocolate coupled with and the richness of the pistachio ice cream was absolute perfection. Have I had that combination before? Countless times. But have I ever had it executed so well? Nope.

#5. Charred Baby Octopus, Soma 107
Sadly, I don’t know if this dish exists anymore. Initial buzz was very strong at Soma 107, but last I heard, chef James Cawley is no longer with the restaurant. I had no idea octopus could be so tender, and my first bite was an absolute explosion of flavors and textures.

#4. Shrimp with Grapefruit and shaved fennel, Tarry Lodge
A handful of ultra-fresh ingredients refreshingly under-fussed-over to let each element shine.

#3. Dry-rub ribs, Big W’s Roadside Bar-B-Q
High on my list for the same reason Shake Shack made the cut. You simply cannot ignore your cravings. And these ribs—smoked with such care and complexity—come to mind pretty much anytime I’m in Dutchess—heck, even Putnam county.

#2. Langoustines, Tom: Tuesday Dinner
My favorite dish from my 12-course tasting menu at Tom: Tuesday Dinner happens to be my worst photograph, unfortunately. Colicchio doesn’t normally get all loco in the kitchen—yet there was something about this dish that was very experimental and exotic. Were there Thai influences at play? I’m not sure, but it was his most successful and delectable dish of the evening.

#1. Radiatore with Lamb Bolognese, The Cookery
My number one pick because I could eat this pasta forever and ever and never get sick of it. And it represents all I love about The Cookery: authenticity, simplicity and soul.

Honorable Mentions: Melt Sandwich Shop’s Pulled Pork Pizza, Emma’s Ale House’s Krispy Kreme Bread Pudding, Locanda Verde’s Fava Bean crostino on prosciutto bread.

1 comment:

  1. I'd put Mama K's Thai Fruit Jewels up in this list. It surely ranks in my Top 10. I still dream about it! I'm surprised that Bobby Flay's french fries/french fry "sauce" didn't appear either! Maybe we need a top 20 ;-)

    I'm getting hungry now! Keep up the good work, Sharon. Glad to see you are back!