So either Time Out’s list keeps getting better or I’m getting easier to please in my old age. I was amazed to discover five dishes that I thought warranted a perfect score of 10 out of 10. They were truly memorable and delicious. The kind of dishes I want to take all my friends to try so they can see why I spend so many calories on conquering this list each year.
I have not been able to stop thinking about two very different and extraordinary desserts since tasting them this year. From opposite sides of the world, both had distinct flavors and textures and were as fun to eat as they were to taste. The Ba Si (pulling strings) from Flushing’s Fu Run was a starch party of sweet, crunchy and warm textures. It was endlessly addicting and interactive. Boulud Sud’s Grapefruit Givré was indeed an entire grapefruit shell stuffed with wondrous goodies like creamy sesame foam, cotton-y halvah shreds, tart grapefruit sorbet, and a crunchy caramel tuile.
Perfectly cooked meats are not easy to do and it’s even harder to make me take notice. I’ve had many tender and flavorful pork chops and duck breasts, but the sliced Red Wattle Pork Chop at Roberta’s and the seared Duck Lunch at Momofuku Ssäm Bar made me think I was tasting these meats for the first time.
And finally, I had no idea that a simple concoction of gin and tonic could be as awe inspiring as the one they make at Amor y Amargo. House infused tonic liqueur and their own hopped grapefruit bitters brought out the citrusy, herbal notes of a usually predictable drink.
In addition to some great dishes, I was also happy to see that practically none of the venues closed this year. The restaurant business is a tough one in NYC and the fact that all 100 of the restaurants are still in one form of business is reassuring.
Sure, Bian Dang’s brick and mortar shop shuttered, but they still have their food truck. Isa re-invented its menu with a new chef, but lives on with the same wacky menu designs. John Brown Smokehouse upgraded to a bigger location and Himalayan Hut only changed its name to the much less creative Chilli Chicken.
And while there were five dishes I was not able to taste this year (for a number of reasons), the 95 I did were mostly spot-on with very few disappointments. And I’m sure the food would just keep getting better as the years roll by, but after three years I’m thinking it’s time for me to put the Time Out list to bed. Time Out has been good to me introducing me to some hot spots and delicious dishes, but I think I need to explore more on my own. The 2012 list is definitely hanging on my refrigerator already, but it’s going to be more of a reference than a mission statement. So next year, look for a new feature on Eat This NY.
Until then, I’ll be unveiling my own 100 Best Dishes list starting next week. In the meantime, check out all the reviews here and watch this food pornographic video of me eating my way through Time Out’s 100 Best.