Thursday, December 26, 2019
2019: Top Ten Restaurant Dishes
Let me continue the lists of my best recommendations and favorites of 2019 with my Top Ten 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.
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.
Jeera Chicken at Mitho (Winchester)
Mitho is a new restaurant that serves authentic Nepalese and Himalayan cuisine, and it's food is quite compelling. One of my favorite dishes on their menu is the Jeera Chicken. "Jeera" means "cumin seeds" and this dishes includes pan-grilled chicken, with cumin seeds, that is cooked in a typical Nepali way. The crispness of the chicken pieces was compelling, and the spices and seasonings were absolutely delicious, with a pleasing spicy kick. This dish is an appetizer and it would be an excellent snack for cocktails or Sake.
Roast Beef Sandwich at Cusser's Roast Beef & Seafood (Boston)
Beneath the Mooncusser Fish House, and open for lunch during the week, Cusser's Roast Beef serves delicious roast beef sandwiches and seafood. The Roast Beef Sandwich can be ordered in two different styles: North Shore and 80T Style. The 80T Style is served with cheddar, pickled red onions and Thoreau sauce (a type of spicy mayo). I went for the North Shore style, which usually comes with barbecue sauce, mayo, and cheese. The rolls, made daily by pastry chef Katherine Hamilburg, are soft and fresh, with the slight crunch of the seeds atop the roll. Hamilburg's roll was an excellent vehicle for the extremely tender and flavorful rare, roast beef. The barbecue sauce had a pleasant tang to it and didn't overwhelm the sandwich. Each bite was so satisfying and frankly, it is one of the best Roast Beef sandwiches I've eaten anywhere.
Rye Chitarra at Mooncusser Fish House (Boston)
And atop Cusser's the Mooncusser Fish House offers a seafood-centric menu, with a few exceptions, and the seafood is fresh, creatively prepared, and superb. One of my favorite dishes there is the Rye Chitarra, made with uni, celeriac, and mushrooms. Perfectly cooked pasta, briny uni, and umami-rich mushrooms, all combined for a fantastic taste. Such a nice blend of flavors of the soil and sea. This dish cried out for an umami-rich Sake, though they have an excellent wine list. The restaurant recently acquired a full liquor license, and now you can get cocktails there too.
Fried Chicken at BISq (Cambridge)
The Inman Square area has a number of excellent restaurants and BISq is certainly one of the best. They are well known for their Fried Chicken, with Thai Bird Chili Salt, and you receive four ample-sized pieces of boneless fried chicken, with your choice of dipping sauce, Buttermilk Ranch or Chipotle BBQ. I chose the Chipotle BBQ sauce, which had a pleasant tangy and slightly spicy taste. The fried chicken has a very crisp, crunchy and flavorful coating, covering the moist and tender chicken within. I can easily understand why this chicken is so beloved, and it is a very good value as well.
Ajarian Khachapuri at Jana Grill (Watertown)
Only a few local spots make Khachapuri, Georgian cheese bread, and the best I've tasted has been at the Jana Grill. Khachapuri is made in numerous ways and one of the most popular is the Adjarian, where the bread is molded into a boat shape and the middle is topped by a soft-boiled egg or just the yolk. Jana's version is pure comfort food, with a crust that's cooked perfectly to a nice golden brown, with a crisp exterior and a light, fluffy interior. The thick crust surrounding the middle even had cheese inside of it. The cheesy blend in the middle, when mixed with the egg yolk, was salty, cheesy, creamy and rich of umami. Each bite made me want to have another.
Goat Cheese Rangoon at East of Suez (Wolfeboro, NH)
East of Suez, a Pan Asian restaurant, is a delightful culinary destination in New Hampshire with plenty of tasty options. It's also BYOB, which is another reason to dine there. Their Goat Cheese Rangoon are made from local goat cheese, seasoned with fresh herbs, and enveloped in a deep-fried wonton skin with a sweet chili sauce dip. I'm not a fan of Crab Rangoon, with their fake crab meat and cream cheese, but I loved these goat cheese rangoon. Fried perfectly, with a crunchy exterior, the creamy goat cheese was a delight on the palate, enhanced by the sweet chili dip. Why can't more restaurants make something similar rather than the usual crab rangoon?
Pork Milanese at Osteria Posto (Waltham)
Osteria Posto is one of my favorite suburban Italian restaurants, and dishes like this are part of the reason. The Pork Milanese, made with mozzarella and tomatoes, was a killer dish. The plump little tomatoes spray your mouth with hot juices. The pork, pounded thin, was coated with a thin, crispy coating and the pork itself was very tender, covered with plenty of gooey cheese. You almost didn't need a knife to cut it. Overall, though it was an amply-sized piece of pork, the overall dish seemed light and you would definitely eat every piece.
Friptura De Miel at Moldova Restaurant (Newton)
I love lamb and the Moldova Restaurant knows well how to prepare it. Their Friptura De Miel is made from roasted lamb, stewed in a special wine and rosemary sauce, and it was served with polenta, feta cheese and sour cream. The lamb was 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 superb, with a hint of rosemary, and plenty of juicy, tender meat, lacking that gaminess which turns off some people to lamb. As a lamb lover, this dish impressed me immensely.
I haven't yet written about this dining experience but it was too good not to include on this list. The Torched Sashimi is made with Ōra King Tyee Salmon, farmed in New Zealand, which some say is like the Waygu beef of the seafood world. Made with ponzu sauce, a slice of jalapeño, and some soy sauce bubbles, this salmon was so rich and fatty, silky like butter, and well accented by the hint of heat and the umami of the soy. Pure hedonistic gustatory pleasure. Legal Harborside is the only New England restaurant that has any of these unique salmons.
Cinnamon Roll at Katie's Kitchen (Wolfeboro, NH)
Have to end this list with some home-made sweetness, a Cinnamon Roll from a cool, little breakfast spot in New Hampshire. It is everything you want in such a pastry, fresh, soft and full of plenty of rich cinnamon, as well as covered with a mildly sweet glaze. Though it comes with a large pat of butter, you won't need it for this sweet treat. This is one of the best cinnamon rolls that I've eaten at a restaurant. I'd come to Katie's Kitchen just for a couple of these pastries.
What were some of your favorite restaurant dishes of the past year?