Tuesday, December 19, 2017
2017: Top Ten Favorite Restaurant Dishes
Let me continue the lists of my best recommendations and favorites of 2016. I have already posted three Top Wine lists, my Favorite Wine-Related Items and my Favorite Spirits, Sake, Cocktails & Drink-Related Items. Now I want to move onto food and showcase my Top Ten Favorite Restaurant Dishes of the past year.
This list includes ten 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. And I'll note that all of these restaurants are located in Massachusetts.
This is certainly not a complete list but it's 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 not in any order of preference, so all receive equal accolades. For more of my favorite restaurant dishes, you can just search my blog posts for the past year.
Haggis at Civic Kitchen & Drink (Westborough)
At a Robert Burns Scotch Dinner, they served Haggis, a traditional Scottish dish that's made from a sheep's heart, liver and lungs, mixed with onion, oatmeal, suet, spices, and salt, and then encased in a sheep's stomach. Authentic Scottish haggis though can't be imported into the U.S. so the restaurant sourced it from a place in New Jersey, which was made with oatmeal, beef liver, lamb breast, onions and spices. Though a bit leery, the haggis had a pleasant aroma and when I bit into it, it was actually delicious. A silky texture like corned beef hash with a nice balance of spices and a slightly earthy element. I devoured every bit of haggis on my plate and would order it again if I had the opportunity.
Fried Whole Fish with Black Bean Sauce at Fuji on West (Quincy)
This impressive dish, a whole California Striped Bass, had flesh that was moist, flaky and sweet while the crispy skin was nearly addictive. The black bean sauce added a mild earthiness to the dish, with plenty of umami, complementing the sweetness of the fish. Don't worry about seeing the entire fish at your table as this dish is too delicious to miss. And pair some umami-rich Sake with this fish.
Yellowfin Tuna Melt at Island Creek Oyster Bar (Burlington)
A Tuna Melt is a rather common sandwich, yet there are restaurants which elevate it to new heights, and Island Creek accomplishes that objective. The tuna melt is on white rye, with ICOB pickles and Fontina cheese, and it is frankly one of the best tuna melts I've ever eaten. The creamy and delicious tuna filling doesn't ooze mayo like some other tuna melts, and the pickles add a nice texture as well as some sweetness. The melted fontina adds some nutty notes and the bread, with panini-like grill marks, is just the right thickness. Everything meshes well together, creating a superb sandwich.
Mooncusser Chowder at Mooncusser Fish House (Boston)
Made with skate, clams, smoked scallop, creme fraiche, & barley crackers, this amply-sized bowl of chowder contained an appealing and complex melange of flavor. It wasn't overly thick or thin, just the right consistency, and there was plenty of tender seafood within its depths. Right now, with the cold weather, this would be an excellent choice to warm your belly.
Short Rib Mac & Cheese at Chopps American Bar & Grill (Burlington)
Elevated comfort food doesn't always work, but other times, such as in this instance, it can excel. This Mac & Cheese is topped with toasted cornbread crumbs, adding a little grainy and crunchy texture as well as the sweetness of the cornbread. The rotini, which were cooked just right, were in a creamy, cheesy sauce with tender, meaty pieces of short rib. It's large enough to share though you might want it all to yourself.
Classic Lamb Gyro at Gre.co (Boston)
Located on Newbury Street, Gre.co is a fast casual spot which basically makes everything from scratch. The Classic Lamb Gyro is compelling, with a grilled pita wrapping up a hearty amount of fillings, including plenty of tender and flavorful lamb. The tomato jam adds nice acidity and a little sweetness to the gyro while the salty fries enhance the blend of flavors. It was fresh and delicious, ample and well balanced. I wish I lived closer as I would be ordering this gyro every week.
Roasted Rabbit at Terra Nostra (Fall River)
More people need to eat rabbit as it is such a nutritious and delicious meat, though numerous people shy away due to a psychological barrier, especially if they ever owned a rabbit as a pet. I love rabbit and this year, this Portuguese inspired rabbit dish was impressive. The meat was tender and moist, flavorful and with a crisp coating. The sauce enhanced the rabbit and I could have consumed the entire dish on my own.
Lamb Burger Slider at Troquet (Boston)
Troquet moved to a new location, adding a new bar menu which contained plenty of interesting dishes, from pizza to crispy smoked chicken wings. The superb Lamb Burger Slider, topped with lamb bacon, goat cheese feta, and harissa, was moist and juicy, with creamy feta, mild salty bacon, and a slightly spicy harissa. The bread was soft and fluffy, and I easily could have devoured half a dozen of these sliders. An excellent bar snack.
Topped with roasted garlic aioli, Idiazabal cheese, and Espelette pepper, this was an amazing dish. I've had similar dishes at other Spanish restaurants, and far too often, the corn tends to be a bit mushy. Here, the corn was tender and firm, the way an excellent corn on the cob should taste. The corn was grilled very well and the addition of the compelling melange of cheese, garlic and pepper well complemented the corn, creating an especially delicious dish. I can't wait to return to have more of this corn.
Friptura De Miel at Moldova Restaurant (Newton)
Another compelling lamb entree! This Moldovan dish consists of roasted lamb, stewed in special wine and rosemary sauce, and normally served with roasted vegetables. The lamb is cooked for over four hours, braised and then roasted in the oven. All that slow cooking made the lamb extremely tender, and you certainly didn't need a knife to cut it. The lamb was tender and juicy, with a hint of rosemary, and it lacked that gaminess which turns off some people to lamb. As a lamb lover, this dish impressed me immensely.
What were some of your favorite restaurant dishes of the past year?