Battle Axe steak from Town Hearth. Photo by Kevin Marple.

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The Top Six Dishes I Ate in 2017

A year in review.

These are the dishes that wowed me in 2017, a tumultuously delicious year. When I evoke their names, I’m there, remembering everything about the evening’s meal. Truly great dishes have that power to imprint themselves in your memory. Try them for yourself.

Catalan-style lamb stew at Sachet

One of Stephen Rogers’ expressive dishes—eloquently Mediterranean—had me making references to ambrosia. Lamb belly, ribs, and shoulder meld with saffron and black salt-cured olives’ pungency in a delicious dish, like a pot of the richest honey. It has depth beyond what I can fathom or keep track of. Lamb—already a complex and savory meat—met its match.

Octopus taco at Revolver Taco Lounge

Of all the tacos I ate this year, this one, with its tender grilled octopus and thatch of frizzled leeks transported me the most. It doesn’t hurt that it comes on a pliant, soft disc of fresh masa that is hand-pressed in front of you.

Long island snails and pommes dauphines at The French Room

I took in the Rococo room’s new fine detailing, and then decided all was right in the fine-dining world with the Long Island snails, a dozen of them or more, eased out of their shells, briny and wonderful, with a vibrant watercress cream sauce and pommes dauphines, little puffs of souffléd potatoes, soft as velour in your mouth.

Squid ink pasta at City Hall Bistro

It comes as a black nest, in an equally dark slate grey bowl. The angel hair strands are full of squid ink—twirled into midnight depth. Baby octopus and spots of creamy aoili that shows off sprinkles of Aleppo pepper. This fine black nest, garlicky and mysterious, was the most captivating pasta dish I had this year. It twirled me in its midnight depths.

The Battle Axe at Town Hearth

This was a year of steak, but I still remember the carnal shiver that ran down my spine when the dry-aged behemoth was set down. It channeled pure funk. It disappeared in minutes. We were cavemen feasting under chandeliers.

Study in chocolate with persimmon ice cream at Flora Street Café

A winter vision: a slice of mousse-y cake, zebra bands of creamy dark, milk, and white chocolate softness interspersed with a rich, textured Sacher torte layer and topped with a quenelle of persimmon sorbet.

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