If Time Out New York can do it, so can I. I’ve been inspired and satiated by Time Out’s 2009 Top 100 list and look forward to conquering their 2010 list very soon. But from now until the end of the year, I present my own Top 100 Dishes of the year in reverse order. Look for another five dishes every few days.
40. THE BEAUTY at MILE END
I have sung the praises of Mile End, the not quite year-old Montreal style deli in Boerum Hill, so much on this blog. And I’m not going to stop until they take over the culinary world.
Everything I’ve ever tasted here has been spectacular and the owners, Noah and Rae are so incredibly gracious and welcoming. Not to mention they know how to prepare delicious food.
One of my favorites is the Beauty, which is a perfect brunch sandwich. They start with a Montreal bagel (smaller and sweeter than NY bagels and covered with sesame seeds), then add a layer of fluffy whipped cream cheese, smoked salmon, tomatoes, red onions, and capers. Rather simple, but the secret (like all Mile End’s dishes) is in the pairing of fresh ingredients and the housemade featured protein – in this case, the perfectly silky and salty smoked salmon.
You can get it open faced or closed. But if you get it closed, I feel like you’re missing the point – it’s called The Beauty! Price: $9/$12 (closed/open-faced)
|97A Hoyt Street (between Atlantic Avenue and Pacific Street)
Boerum Hill, Brooklyn
39. BURGER at PJ CLARKE’S
Shake Shack, Minetta Tavern, Bill’s. It’s so funny how the big names in burgers have changed in this city since I moved here. Years ago, it was still the old favorites and now most of them have gotten lost in the burger shuffle.
I found myself at one of those old favorites this year for a late night dinner. PJ Clarke’s is a century-old saloon and restaurant. And I’ve had their burger years ago when every NY publication touted it as one of the best. I remember it being good then, but I was curious how it stood up to all this locally sourced meat and special blends. And a recent, much publicized re-vamping of the menu.
It’s still a winner, my friends. It’s a modest portion (served with only a pickle), but it packs so much rich flavor and juiciness. Definitely beats Shake Shack for me. It’s simple and delicious and it tastes the way a classic grilled old-fashioned burger should. And fortunately, it’s not complicated with special sauces or fancy toppings. Price: $10.20 (with cheese)
|915 Third Avenue (between 55th and 56th Street)
38. PORCHETTA SANDWICH at PORCHETTA
SADLY, PORCHETTA IS NOW CLOSED.
This East Village take-out spot topped Time Out’s list two year’s ago and that’s what finally brought me and this complex pork sandwich together for the first time. But not for the last time, I assure you.
A porchetta is a classic Italian pork roast with lots of salt, herbs, and delicious fat. It’s been often turned into a sandwich and is the older Italian cousin of our Southern pulled pork sandwiches.
Sara Jenkins’ version uses three different parts of the pig – the rich fatty belly, the tender loin meat, and the crispy crunchy skin. Not to mention all the herbs and aromatics: rosemary, fennel, garlic, peppers, etc. The meat is slow roasted and placed on a firm Italian roll. Each bite is juicy, moist, and full of flavor and textures.
There’s no wonder it topped Time Out’s list in the past. I’m just surprised they didn’t make an exception and repeat the inclusion each year since. Price: $10
|110 East 7th Street (between 1st Avenue and Avenue A)
37. EGG SAUSAGE SANDWICH at M. WELLS
M. Wells is another Quebecois eatery in one of the boroughs (this time Queens), but they focus more on gourmet diner food (as opposed to Mile End’s home cooked deli fare). It seems there has been so much positive press on this spot that almost everything on their menu has made somebody’s top lists.
And while I could have happily picked any of the dishes I tried for this list, I agreed with Time Out by singling out the Egg Sausage Sandwich.
The eggs are fluffed up in a microwave and then finished on the griddle. It’s sandwiched between a fresh and buttery housemade English muffin along with a gigantic homemade sage sausage patty (it’s practically a pork burger!), smoked Vermont cheddar cheese (one of the few things not made in the restaurant), tomatoes, a layer of mayonnaise (you guessed it – homemade), and pickled jalapeños. Whew! Price: $8
|21-17 49th Avenue (at 21st Street)
Long Island City, Queens
36. CAPTAIN’S DAUGHTER at SALTIE
Everybody’s been talking about Saltie this year. Initially, I thought they were a bakery and tried to go by for dessert. They were closed and later I learned that their speciality is sandwiches. Sandwiches with strange names and ingredients. None necessarily screamed order me. But all the critics agree that these sandwiches are something special.
So I found myself in Williamsburg early one Saturday afternoon and I figured it would be a perfect opportunity to test out Saltie. I picked The Captain’s Daughter, which is one of their most popular, but I wasn’t completely sold on the idea of it for breakfast.
Listen to these ingredients: sardines, pickled egg, and salsa verde. To be honest, I just wasn’t feeling it. Well, let me tell you, Saltie showed me! This was an incredible sandwich.
The foccacia was perfectly soft and chewy, garnished with a sprinkling of sea salt. Inside, the salsa verde is a sauce made of parsley, olive oil, scallions, and capers. The pickled hard-boiled eggs gave it some breakfast credibility but also lots of soft texture to play off the sardines. And speaking of the sardines, they were of the highest quality and actually were much more meaty and flavorful than any tuna fish sandwich. With the bread, capers and sardines, you’d expect this dish to be really, well, salty. But it was perfectly balanced and all the flavors played out in harmony without any being overwhelming.
There was so much flavor explosion in each bite (even tasted some dill?). This sandwich totally blew away my expectations that I decided Saltie would be my new Williamsburg destination. I can’t wait to try all their sandwiches. Price: $8
|378 Metropolitan Avenue (between Havemeyer Street and Marcy Avenue)