Top 20 dishes of 2010, part 1

Don't miss the dessert tasting at Travail.

Don't miss the dessert tasting at Travail.

Along with the Best New Restaurants of 2010, I've compiled a list of my favorite dishes from restaurants I reviewed this year. Here are the first 10 of 20 not-to-be-missed items, in no particular order:


Biscuits and gravy too often goes wrong--too salty, too gluey, too leaden, etc. But Be'wiched's Sunday brunch version is light and balanced, yet just as rich and indulgent as the classic.

• Love steak? Try the 16-ounce rib eye at The Hanger Room, which is dry-aged on premise for 42 days to take on a depth of character like that of a fine wine. (Though actually the drink of choice here is the beet-infused Blood of Christ cocktail.)

• The McKee/Christianson reboot of Il Gatto brought this gem to the menu: slow-cooked, cured swordfish served with heirloom tomatoes, radishes, and tonatto sauce.

• Dim sum is the best meal at Thom Pham's Wondrous Azian Kitchen, particularly the chiu chow dumplings stuffed with pork, scallions, and nuts, but I also loved the fried taro balls and sesame buns.

• The charcuterie plate and the burger at Travail Kitchen & Amusements are both amazing (pair them with a Surly "Fender" if both Bender and Furious are on tap) but the restaurant's must-order is the multicourse dessert tasting, a carnival ride of treats served with a bit of science-class flourish.

The Smack Shack lobster roll is king!

The Smack Shack lobster roll is king!

Heartland moved to new digs, but still highlights the best Midwestern ingredients, such as rainbow trout paired with a summer bounty of sweet corn, roasted peppers, tomato, and Swiss chard.

• This summer's street food explosion brought several boons, among them the lobster roll at Smack Shack, Texas toast piled with sweet, pink-speckled meat so fresh you'd think you were in Montauk.

• Another street food wonder: the lip-smacking curried chicken banh mi sandwich at Saffron's World Street Kitchen, which is well among the best executions of the French/Vietnamese classic in town.

• Moroccan food is hard to find in this town, but the best tagines are had at David Fhima's Faces, where they show up occasionally as specials, decadent with spice.

• While I loved the classic cannelloni and not-at-all-classic seared sockeye salmon with spinach, peas, and preserved lemons, Parma 8200 offers a vegetable side I'd never pass up: asparagus spears served with toasted hazelnuts, brown butter, and a soft, ripe burrata cheese.

The year's Top 20 Dishes continues tomorrow...