The Best of 2007: Food
This year I ate in well over 100 different restaurants and dessert spots. And while that doesn't even begin to scratch the surface of the gustatory pleasures available in this town, I most definitely did enjoy sampling so many new places. Here are some highlights, in no particular order:
Best Meal: Belcourt. My favorite night out all year had to be at Matthew Hamilton's new bistro in the East Village, where my lovely daughters and I feasted on opening weekend. The atmosphere, the service, the music, and, of course, the food, were all terrific, and we had a blast. Highlights of the meal: Butternut Squash and Apple Raviolo topped with grilled wild mushrooms, brown butter, and sage; a skewer of incredibly rich and butter-soft Grilled Sweetbread; and Slow Roasted Pork Belly and Sausage, a salty, spicy, crispy, fatty festival of pig products, balanced by terrific, vinegary sauerkraut, sweet pickled beets, and lavender spaetzle.
Close second: Momofuku Ssäm Bar.
Best Made-to-Share Starter: Hot Potato Chips with blue cheese fondue, at The Smith. (See also: Best Mouthfeel.)
Best Veggie Side: Shaved Fennel and Pumpkin, from the excellent "Garden" section of the menu at Back Forty.
Best Barbecue: Blue Smoke.
Best Cupcakes: Sugar Sweet Sunshine Bakery.
Best Dumplings: the amazingly-textured, fat and flavorful Shumai with ponzu sauce at Momoya on Amsterdam.
Best Ramen: Momofuku (sorry, haters, but it's still so true).
Best Milkshake: Toasted Marshmallow at Stand.
Best Pasta: Garganelli with fava beans, pancetta and pecorino at Spiga.
Close second: Malfatti, a gnocchi made from semolina, ricotta, and spinach, at Cafe Emillia.
Best Ice Cream: Grom
Close second: L'Arte Del Gelato
Best Fried Chicken: Rack and Soul. (See also: Best "Kid's Menu".)
Best Flan: Móle
Best Chocolate Cake: Torta di Ciocolatta, a wonderful, warm, incredibly rich, crispy/chewy creation with deep cocoa flavors, topped with a scoop of sweet vanilla gelato, at Gemma.
Best Dessert: Sticky Toffee Pudding—cold and warm and cakey and gooey and creamy and sweet—at Schiller's Liquor Bar.
Close second: Toasted Walnut Tahitian Vanilla Parfait at Kyotofu.
Best Sushi: Soto.
Best Empanada: Broccoli and Cheese in Corn Flour at Empanada Mama.
Best Sandwich: the Pig's Ass Sandwich—fatty, juicy, marinated pork butt with cheddar and foi epi and sweet B&B pickles, all pressed together on crunchy ciabatta and served with a side of chipotlé aoli—at Casellula.
Close second: the three terrine Bahn Min, composed of ham, veal head cheese and chicken liver pate, at Momofuku Ssäm.
Close third: the hot Meatloaf with Cheddar, with thick, smoky bacon slabs and spicy tomato relish, at 'wichcraft.
Best Curbside Treat: warm Chocolate Bread Pudding with creme anglaise—and, frankly, just about everything else—from Dessert Truck. (See also: Best Debbie-and-Chocolate-Sauce Memory.)
Best Deviled Eggs: the trio of creamy and zingy eggs perched atop slices of crispy fried pork toast at Resto.
Close second: Fatty Crab, available only at the bar. (See also: best conversation about Radiohead with a bartender.)
Best Hot Dog: the "Infamous Stoner", a total mess loaded with chili, melted cheese and crushed fritos, at Dash Dogs.
Best Chocolate Chip Cookie: City Bakery / Birdbath / Build a Green Bakery.
Best Pizza: Di Fara, especially my slice that he piled high with melty, oily Porcini.
Best Dish: Sea Urchin with fluffy Whipped Tofu sprinkled with bonito flakes and sesame seeds atop fruity, chewy Black Tapioc, at Momofuku Ssäm.
Close second: Kampachi Tar Tare—chopped Hawaiian jack fish with wasabi tobiko, pine nuts, served with soy foam—at Soto.
Close third: Lansaña de Cangrejo, a crab meat lasagna with mussel saffron sauce, at Ureña (now serving less expensive, supposedly less inventive fare as Pamplona).
Best Cephalopod: the Polipetti E Sedano, an amazing grilled octopus sitting atop celery bits and black olives. Lemony, oceany, oily, unbelievably tender, totally transcendent. At Morandi.