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Omnivore Food Blog By Suzanne Podhaizer

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December 01, 2007

Favorite Restaurant Dishes (thanks BFP)

Last week, the Burlington Free Press ran an article about their food writers' favorite restaurant dishes. Not "I love chicken pot pie" but "I love the chicken pot pie at Restaurant X."

I thought the piece was pretty interesting, although I disagree with Candace Page's claim regarding the primacy of restaurants' veggie dishes over those made with meat: "While a chef can certainly ruin a good pork chop, there's not much he or she can do take make it the Ultimate Memorable Pork Chop," Page suggests.

I have access to vegetables just as luscious and fresh as those used in restaurants (I buy 'em from the exact same farmers). Same goes for butter, cream, artisan cheese, etc. I even have a French mandoline for slicing potatoes and root veggies paper thin. Unless a vegetable dish is made with demi-glace, truffles or some other premium ingredient that I can't get my hands on, I usually feel that I could turn out something similar, given the time and the inclination.

But the best pieces of meat and seafood generally go to restaurants, and aren't always available to consumers. Thus, in a restaurant, those are the things I lust after, to the dismay of my vegetarian readers. Of course, this only applies at restaurants that bother to source the best ingredients...most places serve fairly run-of-the-mill meat. At The French Laundry, I ate several such dishes, one which included meat that had been braising for days. At Barbara Lynch's restaurants in Boston; B&G Oysters,  the Butcher Shop and No. 9 Park, I ate (respectively) baby scallops with miniature Brussels sprouts and pancetta in pear butter, house-cured salami and escolar sashimi that I'll never forget.

Despite this difference in opinion, though, I found that several of my favorite local restaurant dishes were the same as those listed by the BFP folks. Here's my list, in no particular order.

I've starred dishes that were also mentioned in the Free Press article. With the exception of a couple recent discoveries, I've eaten all of these dishes numerous times. I've included links to the restaurants' listings in our 7 Nights Guide to Restaurants and Bars so you can see what other people think.

~ Pho Dang: Beef Pho with brisket and rare beef (*)
~ American Flatbread: the signature salad and the Belgian-style beers (*)
~ Ground Round: Wood Creek Farm burger on Red Hen brioche with Shelburne Farms Cheddar (*)
~ Junior's Italian: pasta Bolognese and pasticciotti (my favorite Italian pastry)
~ Red Onion: the Red Onion sandwich. I can't seem to order anything else when I go there.
~ New World Tortilla: Thai chicken burrito, unwrapped.
~ L'Amante: Gnocchi with braised pork and cherries. I've only seen it on the menu once. It was sublime.
~ Green Room: Smoked trout quesadillas, anything Chef Pratt does with smoked duck or foie gras
~ Penny Cluse: chorizo and egg tacos, the tofu scram with peanut-ginger sauce, and the salad with lime-cilantro dressing.
~ Chef's Corner: smoked salmon eggs Benedict
~ Big Fatty's: smoked chicken (no bbq sauce required), brisket, collards and the unique baked beans
~ Dobra Tea: pita Dahab (with feta, olives, tomatoes and a sprinkle of cardamom), all of the tea
~ Asiana House: O'toro sashimi,  Kiss the Dragon roll, lots of other maki.
~ Sonoma Station: Blue Seal steak frites
~ Cheese Outlet/Fresh Market: chicken, pasta and olive salad; potato, bacon and leek salad; spicy green beans with cashews; angel kisses. And there was a dish they had years ago (in 1999 or 2000) that they no longer have, made with grilled chicken, mango and red onion, that was just fantastic.
~ Smokejacks: seared tuna with cucumber noodles, ginger or lychee soda, cheese plate, and a lemon ginger bread pudding they once had.
~ FolkFoods (at Farmers' Market): the Ruby (with one of their awesome veggie patties, apples, cheese, sauerkraut and a yummy sauce)
~ Tamale Girl (at Farmers' Market): any tamale, I'm a sucker for dishes made with corn
~ Rookie's Root Beer (at Farmers' Market): root beer
~ Krin's Bakery (at Farmers' Market): coconut cupcakes, macaroons

I could keep going (or expound further on these delightful dishes), but I won't...

What are your favorites?

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Comments

Kat

Just so you know, Viva Espresso is carrying Krin's cupcakes on the weekends. :)

suzanne

Hi Kat. It's nice to see you, and thanks for the tip!

Hope you're doing well.

And that reminds me: I should have put Viva Espresso's "Viva mocha" on the list. It's my favorite local coffee drink.

bridgetb

Seaweed salad followed by Superbowl Maki at Asiana House. If I can't find a friend to dine with, I get it to go, at LEAST once per pay period.

Iraqi Turkey sandwich at Four Corners of the Earth. I like my food flavorful and this sandwich has pickles, onions, mustard, and hot spice. Yummmmm!

Lisa Crean

Asian Bistro's Green Mountain Roll--an everything-and-the-kitchen-sink ginormous maki, with a pile of spicy salmon on daikon in the middle. It's a meal-and-a-half. The waiters don't even bother with a menu when they see me coming. They just smile and ask--more or less rhetorically--"Green Mountain Roll, green tea and low-sodium soy sauce?"

Mistress Maeve

Sneakers :: California Benedict (I can't get enough of their hollandaise)

Tiny Thai :: Massaman Beef (I have it at least once per month!)

Junior's :: Penne a la vodka

Leunig's :: The Wellington (beef or pork, seasonal)

McKee's :: House salad with grilled chicken (one of the freshest, tastiest and healthy meals around, plus they have low fat dressing)

Masha

~Vietnam Restaurant: Pho Ga - absolutely addictive chicken soup
~Tantra: Spicy salmon and squid. It used to be their special but now it is on the menu!
~Leunig's Bistro: Acadia eggs - eggs Benedict with their crab cakes are to die for and the only reason to ever go there (service and food have been sliding for years now)
~4 Corners of the Earth: Cuban port sandwich or Japanese tuna on a half of avocado instead of the usual sandwich
~Kitchen table: anything.. their honey ice-cream is amazing (and I don't even really like ice-cream)
~Tratoria Delia: ossobuco with saffron risotto and either semi-freddo or panna cotta
~Black Door Bistro and Bar: barley risotto

I can keep going.. and don't get me started on other states :)

Mistress Maeve

These lists are great! I want to print 'em out and keep them for the next time I go out to dinner :)

suzanne

You guys are making me hungry! I'm going to keep all of these dishes in mind next time I go out to eat.

Based on Bridget's comment (before Masha mentioned it, too), I went to 4 Corners of the Earth for the first time and had a really nice schnitzel sandwich. I'll definitely go back.

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