Favorite dishes of 2016

I started with more than 60 and have narrowed it down as much as possible. In no particular order here are my top dishes of 2016, whatever ‘top’ means on any such lists. Largely these dishes are not representative of my favorite meals of 2016 and many are from what I would consider casual restaurants. They may not all be the best dishes technically but are the dishes that I could eat every day and often have cravings for. In the interest of fairness of I have disqualified the Au Cheval burger, the Humm Dog, Black Truffle Explosion, and Oysters & Pearls as well as all bread courses.

balsamic, truffle, artichoke
Luskus with Kitchen Table @ Bubbledogs
New York

osetra – plantain, papaya, rum

elvis tartine
Eating House

beef crudo
Momofuku Nishi
New York

farm egg baked in celery cream
Miller Union

foie gras and truffle macaroon
Osteria Francescana

sheep’s milk gnocchi
Jockey Hollow
Morristown, NJ

passionfruit semifreddo
Contra @ Gramercy Tavern
New York

carolina gold rice

Xiao Bao Biscuit

snap pea sushi
New York
pike quenelle

nam tok beans
Kin Khao
San Francisco

spicy tuna toast
New York

ko egg
Momofuku Ko
New York

general tso fried chicken
Chaan Teng
New York

Morristown, NJ – 4/30/16 – Jockey Hollow

Each time that I visit Jockey Hollow I wish that I lived closer.  On this particular date luckily a family get-together put me about half way there and so seemed like a perfect excuse for another meal in the Dining Room.  I hate to repeat previous posts so I can summarize to say that this was a fantastic meal as always.  My favorite dish turned out to be the one that on paper should have been my least favorite – the gnocchi with oysters and white asparagus, the latter two ingredients ones that I generally dislike.  I love when that happens. But the two other pastas incorporating one of my absolute favorite ingredients – spring peas – were a close second.  If you haven’t been here yet do yourself a favor and go!

Grilled Spanish Octopus – eggplant, black olive and ‘nduja
Buffalo Milk Giuncata – spring produce, toasted yeast and romaine vinaigrette

Fluke Crudo – caper gremolata and vegetables sott’aceto
Squid Ink Garganelli – sliced calamari, neonata and bottarga

Spring Pea Agnolotti – king crab, asparagus and bernaise
Sheep’s Milk Gnocchi – Forth North oysters, white asparagus and crispy speck
Lamb Confit Cappellacci – spring pea broth, mint and pecorino pepato

Dry Aged Filet Mignon – potato puree, grilled romaine, ramps, and tendon ragu

Poached black bass – salsify, wild mushrooms, bulgur wheat and saffron nage

Kurobuta Pork Filet – roasted carrot, mushroom ragu and baby turnips

Sicilian Pistachio Tart – pistachio brittle, lemon curd and honey ice cream
Chocolate Date Cake – coffee anglaise, cacao nibs, and buttermilk sorbet
Creme Caramel – carrot pecan cake, coconut sorbet and toffee sauce
Cardamom Rice Pudding – poached rhubarb and rhubarb sorbet

Morristown, NJ – 10/23/15 – Jockey Hollow Bar & Kitchen

I can’t believe that I find myself trying to talk anybody into heading into the depths of New Jersey for dinner.  Continuously fantastic and worth the drive more so than perhaps anything else in the state.  We ended up with quite a lot of food on this visit and I am proud of my dining companions who aren’t quite the professional eater that I try to be.  Thank you Chris James for the fantastic cocktails.  When I ask to be surprised with something gin based as my first drink and get my absolute favorite, the Last Word, it was obviously going to be a good night.  Congratulations on the well deserved recognition from Esquire magazine!

Braised Octopus – tomato asopao, green olive gremolata
 Autumn Salad – roasted root vegetables, almond cracker, brown butter gastrique
 Hand Cut Sirloin Tartare – potato rosti, cornichons, egg yolk
 Fusilli Pasta – spicy sausage, broccoli rabe, controne beans
 Arancini- mortadella, pistachio, pomodoro sauce
 Caramelized Squash Crostino – gorgonzola and ricotta, toasted pumpkin seeds
 Yellowtail – chicken skin, scallions
 Cheese Plate – robiola fiorita, gorgonzola dolce, pecorino grand cru, castelrosso
 Charcuterie – spicy sopressata, prosciutto, bresaola, pickled vegetables
 Desserts (unfortunately missing descriptions)
 Banana Hammock

Morristown, NJ – 7/21/15 – Jockey Hollow

If I lived Morristown I would definitely be a regular at Jockey Hollow. Lucky for me a meeting had me in the area so I thought it was the perfect excuse to check out the bar menu. Right before this visit head bartender Christopher James posted a photo of a Ramos Gin Fizz variation on instagram. It had been years since I have had a Ramos because the best versions were made by the most talented bartender I have ever known, Jason Cevallos. I didn’t even have to ask for one but on every visit to the Office @ the Aviary, a different version would appear in front of me at some point during the night. Jason tragically passed away almost 2 years ago and I’ve just never been able to order one since. But I saw this picture and it was the first time I’ve wanted one. The stars aligned with an almost empty bar so I didn’t have to feel too badly about ordering such a time consuming drink. It seems so strange that a cocktail can bring back so many memories. It was wonderful and I’m glad to be back in the Ramos game.
Unfortunately I was totally sidetracked and didn’t make very good notes about everything else we ordered. However it was all fantastic and to call this a ‘bar’ menu certainly does not do it justice. The skate I am still thinking about….

 Spicy tuna crudo  Skate    CC burger – raclette, slab bacon, salt & vinegar fries

Morristown, NJ – 6/6/15 – Jockey Hollow

I have no idea how many times I have driven by the Vail Mansion in Morristown and somehow never even noticed it. I suppose that is because it sits slightly back from the street but I am kicking myself for being so oblivious.  I remember making a mental note when Jockey Hollow opened but then somehow forgot about it. Perhaps a bit late, but I am so glad I finally made it here.  Such an absolutely beautiful building that it has been impeccably restored and is being utilized in such a fantastic way. I hope to check out the downstairs menus on a future trip although it will be difficult to miss out on the upstairs dining room. I do love how occasionally things come full circle. Many years ago I had lunch at L’Impero (and then Convivio) quite frequently as I worked only a block away and loved the brief escape into tudor city.  So its no surprise that I would love a place where Chris Cannon, Ron Morgan and Chef Kevin Sippel have been reunited from those days.  And its no surprise that all of the pastas were amazing.  But actually everything was!  Such a completely pleasant surprise to be in NJ and not feel like you are in NJ at all.

Yellowtail Toro Crudo – red radish, toasted quinoa and white asparagus

Scrambled Hen Egg – American caviar and accoutrements

Spring Pea Raviolini – carbonara, pea tendrils, smoked speck and king crab

Lamb Neck Casoncelli – wild ramp pesto and pane mollica

Duck Liver Agnolotti – fava beans, pecorino and mint gremolata

Monkfish Porchetta – pancetta, bean salad and adobo crema

Dry Aged Prime Sirloin – brussels sprouts and bone marrow au poivre

Buttermilk Spring Chicken – country ham, ragusano wild lettuces

Pavlova – cardamom rice pudding, rhubarb compote and rhubarb sorbet

Bayley Hazen Blue Cheese – cornmeal fritter, maple walnuts, huckleberries and frisee