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Saturday, September 24

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Review Wed Dec 28 2011

We'll Always Be Together: Best Eats of 2011

sandy.jpgNow that we're in the final stretches of the year, here are a few of the best things that were eaten (or sipped) by the Drive-Thru staff.

I was quite smitten with the Tour of Thailand menu at Next--especially the beef cheek curry. As skeptical as I am of popular places, the dish was so elegant and clean that I can't bring myself to order curry anywhere else. Ever again.

Another thing that comes to mind is the appetizer pizza bread at Sabatino's. I've eaten at this place a million times in the last year as it's become a go-to birthday and special occasion destination for my circle. While most of the menu items are simply decent (and even unspectacular), the small slices of marinara and melted cheese on Italian bread that land on your table before you've even ordered make what's to come of your meal seem as if you've landed a seat at the city's best spaghetti joint.

Let's see what others had to say.

Laura Sant: A very hungover brunch at the Bedford - duck confit gravy over grits and one of those amazing bloody marys with kimchee. Best hangover cure ever!

Alan Lake:
I've narrowed it down to three: the fresh hearts of palm salad with pink peppercorn vinaigrette at Davanti Enoteca, which is surprising to me, as I've worked with fresh hearts of palm quite a bit - but this simple presentation was close to flawless, and I'd never expect it at this restaurant. Then there's the Tom Yam Beef Ball & Tender Soup at Aroy Thai - a perfect balance of sour, spicy and rich. Lastly, the crispy tripe taco and cibolittas (grilled baby spring onions) from the charola at La Chaparrita, drenched in their avocado salsa.

Andie Thomalla: Finding a transcendent version of a familiar foodstuff is one of my favorite eating experiences -- and this year I was lucky enough to stumble across several homey dishes with stratospheric flavors: the garlic bread at Fish Bar (the oysters were super as well, but this simple side with its creamy center, crispy edges, and featherweight down of parmesan cheese stole the entire meal). The fries at Three Aces smothered in a deeply flavorful Bolognese sauce (the ultimate hangover food?), rich, funky-yet-sweet Gruyere donuts on the dessert menu at Longman & Eagle. And just in case anyone was wondering, the browned butter gnocchi at A Tavola are as simple as they ever have been - and still the absolute best in the city.

Sometimes it's the ingredient itself that stands out, as with the Burrata appetizer at Spacca Napoli - it's just cheese, with a few pieces of griddled bread, a drizzle of olive oil, and a pinch of sea salt. And yet it's so, so much more than just cheese. And finally, at the other end of the spectrum are the mechanically precise, carefully plated, and seemingly scientifically balanced dishes that stick with you because they're so very out of the ordinary. Like, for example, the Baja shrimp bruschetta at GT Fish and Oyster, where cilantro, grapefruit and toasted pistachio give the avocado and shrimp lightness you never knew they had. Or the foie gras torchon at LM, the world's best use of negative space on a plate, where the distance between accompaniments, like a summery strawberry basil compote and autumnal red onion confit, feels like a literal breath of fresh air. Whew. Cheers to eating up 2012!

Andrew Huff: Best cocktail: "Bitter" at The Aviary. Partly for the floor show -- the highball glass is brought to the table atop a smoldering chunk of bourbon barrel, holding in a dose of smoke, which adds its flavor to the drink once it's poured in -- and partly for the drink's smokey-sweet bitterness. I had it in the depths of summer heat, but could imagine how comforting it would be in the cold winter months.

Most memorable dessert: Chimney cake from Chimney Cake Island. Crispy and light and a lot of fun to eat.

Most interesting crash and burn: The Black Sheep was open barely three months, and what a bizarre couple months it was. After getting mixed reviews for its contemporary menu, Chef-owner James Toland took to social media to attack critics (while claiming his account had been "hacked"), lost a partner and fired his chefs, and suffered two staff walkouts before abruptly shutting the doors. Cinnamon and I had a great meal there, then watched in horror and fascination as the drama unfolded.

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Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

The State of Food Writing

By Brandy Gonsoulin

In 2009, food blogging, social media and Yelp were gaining popularity, and America's revered gastronomic magazine Gourmet shuttered after 68 years in business. Former Cook's Illustrated editor-in-chief Chris Kimball followed with an editorial, stating that "The shuttering of Gourmet reminds...
Read this feature »

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