I’ve devoured Time Out’s 100 Best dishes and now, once again, I’ve been inspired to create my own list. These are the 100 dishes I have continued to think about since tasting them at some point in 2011. Look for another five dishes every few days. These are in no particular order.
NUMBER 55: BUTTERNUT SQUASH MACARON at DESSERTTRUCK WORKS
Every single dessert from the brick and mortar location of Jerome Chang’s DessertTruck Works was heavenly. Time Out brought us here to sample their Honey Rosemary Ice Cream and we went a little ballistic – ordering just about everything on the menu. Including a very unique little bite: a butternut squash macaron.
French-style macarons seem to be everywhere of late, but I’ve never discovered a flavor quite this special. Sweet potato or pumpkin are one thing, but butternut squash are usually saved for soups, right? Well, the dessert masters here manage to balance the rich, earthiness of the squash with maple caramel and make it delicate, refined, and unbelievably delicious. And that was just one of their desserts. Price: $2
|6 Clinton Street (between Avenue B and Houston Street)
Lower East Side
NUMBER 54: SFERA DI CAPRINO at DEL POSTO
If I hadn’t called this dessert by it’s proper Italian name, many people may have stopped reading. This is in fact a vegetable dessert. And the veggie used is not as obviously sweet as butternut squash or sweet potatoes. This is a dessert made with celery. Can’t even imagine it, can you? I had celery in a fruit salad a few years ago at an Italian restaurant on the Upper East Side and enjoyed the light earthiness it brought to the other fruit’s sweetness. But with this dessert at Del Posto, the celery is the main attraction.
The words actually translates to “spheres of goat cheese”. Pastry chef Brooks Headley starts with little balls of creamy goat cheesecake and dips them in salted olive oil bread crumbs. They’re accompanied by a thick sweet and sour fig agrodolce and two celery components: light, vegetal celery sorbet and a shredded celery salad garnish. All these flavor come together to make a light, refreshing, sweet finish to a rich, decadent Italian meal. And it makes me a celery dessert believer. Price: $14
|85 Tenth Avenue (between 15th and 16th Street)
NUMBER 53: ZUCCHINI PANCAKE at JAY & LLOYD’S
We all know potato pancakes. They’re a staple of Jewish deli food and a good one could have easily fit into this category as well. But the fact that Jay & Lloyd’s, which is an old-school deli in the far reaches of Brooklyn, is taking those classic Jewish dishes and playing around a bit, makes the trip on the Q train that much more worth it.
You can see specks of the green vegetable dispersed throughout the fried potato patty. The addition of zucchini gives the pancake a more vegetal flavor with a hint of sweetness and an extra textural crispness. The brown exterior is perfectly fried giving way to a moist, earthy treat. I love when restaurants re-invent the classics. It’s a subtle little change, but it makes a world of difference. Price: $4.95 (for 3)
|JAY AND LLOYD’S KOSHER DELI|
|2718 Avenue U (between East 27th and East 28th Street)
Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn
NUMBER 52: THREE DIFFERENT EGGPLANTS at ST. ANSELM
I had some grief when I discovered St. Anselm changed their entire concept this year. They originally were serving artery clogging New Jersey specialities like disco fries (featured on Time Out’s 2010 list) and Trenton pork rolls. But after closing for a few months to obtain their liquor license, they re-opened with a brand new concept: grilled food. That meant no more fryer and no list item for me.
But after having a phenomenal meal there, I was so happy they made the change. I could have probably included any of the dishes on this list, but the one that really blew me away was the appetizer of three different eggplants. I didn’t even know there were three different types of eggplant. St. Anselm seasons and chars Japanese, Thai, and Italian varieties which gave some different levels of texture and sweetness. The smokiness of the aubergines paired beautifully with a block of fried goat cheese (wait, I thought they didn’t have a fryer!) and a sweet, tangy pool of caramelized onions. Amazing that perfectly cooked vegetables don’t make me miss fries or pork! Price: $7
|355 Metropolitan Avenue (between 4th Street and Havemeyer Street)
NUMBER 51: MARKET PLATE at WESTVILLE
Westville is such a refreshing little spot. This is affordable food that’s real and hearty and delicious. Sure, they serve hot dogs and hamburgers, but the best thing to order here is a mixed plate of their market vegetables. Every day offers a new list of almost 20 different local, seasonal vegetables prepared simply. Not much is done to these veggies and that goes a long way.
Some of the veggies are just grilled, others are roasted, some are seasoned with garlic and parmesan cheese, others with ginger and sesame. Whatever they do, they bring out the flavor of the produce without sacrificing flavor. You get to pick any four on the market plate. Try the sauteed kale with shallots or the artichoke hearts with parmesan. It’s hard to find a plate this pure, simple, and affordable.
|210 West 10th Street (between Bleecker and West 4th Street)
|1173 Avenue A (at 11th Street)
|246 West 18th Street (between 7th and 8th Avenue)