Now that I’ve eaten my way through somebody else’s list (Time Out New York), I’m ready to compile my own 100 spectacular things I’ve tasted in 2012. Look for another five dishes every few days.
NUMBER 50: STEAK TARTARE at POST OFFICE
Sure, I’m a carnivore, but I don’t go bonkers over meat like many food bloggers. Strangely enough steak houses are probably my least favorite kind of restaurant. That being said, when a modest cut of meat is prepared exquisitely with the right seasonings and sauce, I could easily forget vegetables ever existed.
And while Post Office’s steak tartare is not cooked, it is certainly exquisitely prepared. This whiskey lounge serves some of the best bar food in Brooklyn, including their zippy version of raw chopped steak. Fresh filet mignon is tossed with the most perfect ingredients to provide a wonderful balance of flavors and textures. Bright, spicy, and rich, this version (with a side of seasoned and buttered toast points) has the potential to convert even the staunchest of vegetarians. Price: $14
|188 Havemeyer Street (between South 3rd and South 4th Street),
NUMBER 49: ZI RAN YANG ROU SI CHUAN at BIANG!
These are the second northern Chinese lamb skewers on my list this year. Are they having a moment or did I just discover my new favorite meat stick?
The ones at Biang! are slightly more refined than the fatty (but delicious) nubs from the Xin Jiang cart in Chinatown. Still dirt cheap, the grilled lamb chunks are a crisp, gamey bite with aromatic spices like cumin, garlic, and chili. Time Out also featured them on their 100 Best list this year, so you know it’s not just me. Lamb skewers are the new bacon. Price: $3
|41-10 Main Street (between 41st Avenue and 41st Road),
NUMBER 48: DUCK LUNCH at MOMOFUKU SSÄM BAR
Another meaty dish that Time Out and I agree on is the duck spectacular offered at lunch at Momofuku Ssäm Bar. This mini-version of their large format duck dinner features perhaps the best duck I’ve ever tasted.
The pink slices of breast are served on a bed of white rice with a stewed pork sauce and a side of watercress. Buttery chive pancakes and fresh lettuce cups are served alongside the fowl for wrapping. But the perfectly cooked flesh and sweet, crunchy skin are so tender and flavorful that no extras are really necessary. Price: $14
|MOMOFUKU SSÄM BAR|
|207 Second Avenue (between 12th and 13th Street),
NUMBER 47: CHICKEN at LULU & PO
Many people say that the true test of a chef is the chicken. And although I’ve tasted many wonderful roasted chicken this year, Apiary’s is still my favorite. Full disclosure is that I wait tables there, but Scott Bryan has almost ruined chicken for me – in a good way (his made my list a few years ago).
The one that came closest this year is Matthew Hamilton’s iron-pressed chicken at the new Brooklyn eatery Lulu & Po. The half chicken’s been marinated with sweet, spicy, and vinegary ingredients which shine through in the meat. Pressed flat with an iron, the result is a tender bird with crispy browned skin and distinct, bright flavors. I think Lulu & Po passed the test. Price: $18
|LULU & PO|
|154 Carlton Avenue (between Myrtle and Willoughby Avenue),
Fort Greene, Brooklyn
NUMBER 46: RED WATTLE PORK CHOP at ROBERTA’S
Pork might be the most perfect protein to begin with, but leave it to the infamous chefs at Roberta’s to figure out how to make the other white meat even better.
Using the Red Wattle breed, Roberta’s manages to give the sliced chop a smoky browned char while keeping the flesh juicy and pink. We need a new word to describe the tenderness of this meat. The accompaniments change seasonally, but it was served to me with a spot-on combo of textures and flavors – from the bitter leafy broccoli rabe greens to the earthy tender freekeh to the sweet, creamy dollops of rhubarb compote. Price: $26
|261 Moore Street (between White and Bogart Street),