Monday, December 28, 2015

2015: Favorite Restaurant Dishes

What were some of my favorite restaurant dishes of the past year?

Let me continue the lists of my best recommendations and favorites of 2015. I have already posted my Top Wine lists, Favorite Wine-Related Items, and Favorite Spirits, Cocktails & Drink Related Items. Now I want to concentrate more specifically on my Favorite Restaurant Dishes of the past year.

This list includes fourteen dishes which I not only enjoyed immensely, but which I also found to be particularly compelling for various reasons. They might be especially delicious or something more unique, but all stand out for some particular reason, above the other dishes I have tasted this past year. These are the type of dishes I would order again and again, and which I would highly recommend.

This is certainly not a complete list but it is more a sampling of memorable dishes I have experienced and/or posted about over the past year. It is also a purely subjective list, based on my own preferences, and makes no claims about being the "best" of anything. But all of the items here have earned my strong recommendations and I hope you will enjoy them as well. This list is in alphabetical order, by name of the restaurant, and isn't in any order of preference. For more of my favorite restaurant dishes, you can just search my blog posts for the past year.

Striper Crudo at 80 Thoreau (Concord)
With summer truffle, hakurei, and pickled chanterelles, this was a fresh delight of textures and flavors. The striper flesh was delicate and firm, clean and fresh, like a fine sashimi. It was enhanced by the subtle earthiness of the truffles and the pickled chanterelles added a tasty acidity. A perfect summer dish which showcased the fish in the best of light.  

Fried Scallops & Shrimp at Chopps American Bar & Grill (Burlington)
This flash fried seafood was amazing, especially the scallops. The tasty crunchy coating was clean and light and the scallops were tender and sweet, some of the best fried scallops I've had in some time. The shrimp, which come from the U.S. Gulf, were also very good. 

Campanelle with Chorizo Bolognese at Ciao! Pizza & Pasta (Chelsea)
Out of all the pasta dishes I enjoyed this year, this was the most impressive. It was hearty and delicious, with plenty of creaminess in the sauce, lots of spicy meat, and crunchy bits of chorizo, The house-made campanelle pasta was cooked perfectly and was an excellent vehicle for the bolognese. I've eaten this numerous times during the last few months and it has remained consistently excellent.

Duck Confit Pizza  at Ciao! Pizza & Pasta (Chelsea)
Ciao makes it to the list for a second time with this superb wood-fired pizza. This pizza is made with duck confit, some crispy duck skin, fresh mozzarella, a sweet potato/butternut squash puree, caramelized onions, and cranberries. It was an excellent blend of flavors, with sweetness and tartness, and the duck meat was tender and flavorful. The pizza crust cooked just right, all making for a damn tasty pizza.

6 Hour Meatballs at Osteria Nino (Burlington)
Made from pork, beef, and grana, these meatballs were tender and flavorful, a delicious melange of taste and texture. Forget those tough and dry meatballs you might find elsewhere, these are going to please even the most discriminating palate. You can even order them at lunch in a delicious Meatball sub.

Osteria Burger at Osteria Posto (Waltham)
I haven't yet written about my lunch experience at Osteria Posto, but their Burger well deserves an accolade. A thick, 9 ounce burger, with pancetta, Fontina cheese, a mushroom marsala pasata and tomatoes, is juicy and flavorful, with plenty of umami, a little smokiness, and plenty of gooey cheese. It is accompanied by crunchy potato chips that will remind you of Cape Cod-style chips. 

Crispy Skin Duck at Puritan & Co. (Cambridge)
This large piece of duck was quite thick, cooked mostly rare, and was absolutely sublime. It was extremely tender, with crispy skin, and each piece just melted in my mouth. I'd order that duck again and again.

Duck Wings at Saloon (Somerville)
Covered by an orange-molasses glaze, the tender meat nearly falls off the bone, there is a nice crispness to the skin and the glaze isn't overly sweet. There is a stronger taste to the duck meat than chicken and that isn't a negative. I've long been a fan of duck. We need to see more Duck Wings on local menus.

Tan Tan Men at Sapporo Ramen (Somerville)
A sesame flavored soup, with thick egg noodles and topped with spicy ground pork. Large and hearty, this is a rich and savory soup, with spicy heat, nutty accents, and plenty of umami. Each sip of the soup bursts with complex flavors. The ground pork adds a meaty element, and helps to boost the umami, while the noddles add some firm texture. 

Fried Chicarrones at Taberna de Haro (Brookline)
Fried pork belly, a tasty and salty mix of crunchy and silky fatty bits, they were an excellent pairing with Sherry.

Sea Urchin at Tasting Counter (Somerville)
Tasting Counter has so many compelling dishes but one of the standouts was this dish. Made with kelp custard, white truffle, & wakame, it was creamy, briny and savory, bursting with umami bomb. Perfect for a Sake pairing.

Traditional Francesinha at Tasty on the Hill (Medford)
With five meats, a fried egg, cheese and topped by a tomato-based sauce, this is one big-ass sandwich, accompanied by hand cut French fries. All the different meats provided different textures and spices, and they blended harmoniously together, enhanced by the fried egg and all the melted cheese. The sauce was tangy, savory and slightly spicy with a strong tomato flavor. Very tasty, it was a fine topping for the thick sandwich. A carnivore's dream.

Lamb Hotdog at Tavern Road (Boston)
More like a sausage than a hot dog, it was thick, juicy and with a complex melange of spices and flavors. I could enjoy these on the grill all summer long.

Tater Tots at The Velveteen Habit (Maine)
Some of the best tater tots I've ever had, the crispy exterior had a clean taste and the interior was delightfully creamy, almost as if they contained a tasty portion of mashed potatoes. The balance of the two textures enhanced the dish and they would have made a great bar snack.

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