I ate very well in 2015. Here are the dishes that were the most memorable, in no particular order but the first two, both of which I submitted as my favorite dishes of 2015 in the January issue of KC magazine.
- The Spicy Pork Buns in the lounge at the American Restaurant. Instead of using the more traditional soft Chinese bun, Chef Michael Corvino tucks a slice of luscious pork belly into an adorable, pillowy and chewy homemade English muffin that has been perfectly toasted, which he then tops with an addictive XO sauce, and homemade bread & butter pickles to cut the richness of the pork. There are three sublime little sandwiches to an order, and it is ridiculously hard for me to share with my table companion.
2. Chef Ryan Brazeal often has octopus on the menu at Novel, but the one last spring that I begged him to never take off the menu was the Spicy Octopus with dried shrimp, polenta and red miso. Octopus is braised with lemon and chiles until tender, then charred with a torch to “blacken” it Cajun style. Served with soft pieces of polenta, a mix of local greens, and popcorn that has been tossed in a red miso butter, the dish is pulled together by a dried shrimp XO sauce. The polenta tempers the heat while the popcorn is totally captivating and unexpected. Each bite is a revelation and invariably has my rapturous attention.
6. Roast chicken and mashed potatoes at Blvd Tavern. It’s the perfect comfort food, done flawlessly. Beautiful meat, smooth mashed potatoes and a lovely gravy.
8. Beefsteak Burger at Cleaver & Cork. Topped with cheese curds, sweet onion mustard and porcini aioli, and serve with awesome crispy fries. Can’t go wrong with Local Pig meat.