Best of 2009... Runners Up

Choosing only 10 dishes for the Best of 2009 story in this week’s PW was about as easy a decision as choosing a movie to watch OnDemand. So without further ado, the runners-up.

Hot Legs, Lucky 13 / Yes, the name is unfortunate name, but these braised chicken legs thawed 2009’s winter frost with green olives, preserved lemon and a Moroccan-inspired marinara suffused with cinnamon and mint. (January)

Jerk Chicken, Irie Caribbean Grill / Never have I had jerk so authentically spicy. That is came from a camo-green food truck (which has since disappeared from 24th & Passyunk) made it that much better. (January)

Burger, Prohibition Taproom / The beef blend for this bad-boy comes from Esposito’s and is top-secret. Just be thankful you’re in on its bacon-sautéed leeks-and-gorgonzola-crowned existence. (February)

Scallops & Angel Hair, Fork / The housemade capellini, not the scallops, were the stars of this delicately balanced appetizer tossed with fierce pickled cherry peppers, toasted pine nuts and anisey tarragon butter. (April)

Chifa Chicken / Thanks to Art Etchells of Foobooz for just reminding is of the bangin’ bird prepared Peking-style at Chifa. (April)

Kebabs, S&H Kebab House / Meat + metal rods + smoking coals. With native Turks doing the cooking, how could it not be amazing? (May)

Ham Steak & Red-Eye Gravy, P.O.P.E. / Credit new-in-’09 chef Pete Miller for giving P.O.P.E. the food it always deserved, including this brawny ham steak and eggs slathered in coffee-spiked gravy inspired by the truck stops of Miller’s native Illinois. (July)

Domingo Arepa, Sazon / The fillings, in this case cuminy black beans and queso, are almost extraneous beings Judy Suzarra-Campbell’s pillowy white-corn pockets are like a trip to Caracas. (July)

Lemon-Braised Short Ribs, Noble / Not a great experience at Noble, but there was no denying the excellence of former chef Steve Cameron’s surprisingly summery short ribs over sweet-and-savory onion rice pudding. (July)

Breakfast Burger, snackbar / Morning on a fine Metropolitan brioche roll: juicy beef, house-smoked bacon, cheddar and a fried egg with the yolk gloriously runny. (November)

Pickled Cherry Tomatoes, Village Whiskey / When dreaming about the Village Burger—officially the city’s best—these wonderfully sweet-and-sour gems served with sourdough toast and cloudlike whipped ricotta are never far behind. (December)

And some non-PW-reviewed bests…

Miso Soup, James / Hear “James”, think “Italian”, but just because chef Jim Burke does some ethereal pastas, doesn’t mean dude can’t rock miso soup. Here, dashi is poured tableside over a bowl swiped with mellow miso paste, yuzu gel and carpaccio of blue prawn.

Nachos Encarnacion, Distrito / We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again. Garces’s cast-iron skillet-full nachos flecked with charred ends of skirt steak and showered in cilantro sprouts are the best in town.

Butternut Squash Puree, Marigold Kitchen / The banana bubbles could have gone so, so wrong atop this voluptuous soup, but new chef Rob Halpern knows his flavors.

Birch Beer Wings, Supper / Mitch Prensky brines, smokes, braises and fries his wings, which are then thoroughly lacquered in reduced birch beer.

Avgolemono Soup, Kuzina by Sofia / Great Greek in a Cherry Hill strip-mall? Why not. Tender short-grain white rice is like buried treasure at the bottom of this cup, which brims with a simultaneously refreshing and warming chicken broth fortified with beaten egg and lemon.

Foie Gras, MéMé / Floral vanilla salt and peach jam accented a lovely seared liver earlier this fall.

Soft Pretzels, 10 Arts / We suspect the tossing it brown butter elevates homegirl Jen C.’s pretzel bites above the others in town.

Vegan (we think) Coconut Plantain Soup, Royal Tavern / This sweet, velvety, ferociously spicy puree kicked our ass—and we loved every spoonful.

Pork Chop, Modo Mio / Cheese plate met entrée at Modo Mio, where Peter McAndrews paired a perfectly seared pork chop with gooey Taleggio fonduta, almonds and wine-poached apricots.

1 comment:

Ben Kessler said...

Three cheers for the Breakfast Burger, Chifa Chicken, and Meme foie!