1) Spicy rabbit salad from Hot Kitchen
Rabbit is making its way onto many menus around New York, observes Village Voice food critic Robert Sietsema, who wonders whether it's the new chicken.
I took his word for it and ordered this cold rabbit salad with chili oil, Sichuan peppercorns, scallions and peanuts. The heat unfurled slowly rather than clubbing of the senses, with a combination of smooth and crunchy textures and varying flavors that were quite addictive. This showstopper dish is served at Hot Kitchen, one of a handful of Sichuan restaurants to open around New York recently.
2) Brisket from Mighty Quinn
After lunch at Hot Kitchen, Mr. Sietsema suggested I try brisket across the street at this place, where a fantastically inked musician/employee offered me a sample, which he sliced and handed over via tongs. Glistening meat fell apart in my palm. (When said staffer learned I'm living in Pittsburgh, he waxed on about the greatness of Gooski's.)
The brisket was so memorable I brought a friend back for some. He ended up ordering a second serving with vinegar slaw and pickles, minus this superfluous bun.
3) Brisket from Mile End
Jewish delis are having a renaissance, as food artisans revisit cures, pickles and smoked meats. Mile End offers a Quebec-style brisket which is hybrid between pastrami and corned beef. The breakfast and lunch sandwiches are terrific at the second location of this shop, the first of which resides in Boerum Hill, Brooklyn. Runner-up is the fried salami Ruth Walinsky sandwich.
4) Banana blossom salad from Lotus Blue
Yunnan-style Chinese food is making headway in New York with restaurants such as Yunnan Kitchen and Lotus Blue. This terrific salad is served on an outer petal of the banana blossom as well as the more tender inner flower marinated in citrus. The result is an interesting texture that's unmistakably banana in a salad with peanuts, chili, cilantro, mint, basil and plum dressing.
5) Lemon and arugula pie from Forcella
Lemon as a pizza condiment is becoming more popular, thanks to Forcella as well as former Pittsburgher Roberto Caporuscio of Keste. Bright citrus is a terrific compliment to salt and fat from cheese, though I tend to prefer the fruit preserved or fried first.
Forcella also serves fried pizza, which is flash-fried before the pie is baked, making the texture more ridged with an airy interior. This style, allegedly from Naples, is making its way around Neapoliltan restaurants, but I'm not yet smitten with it.
Chez Sardine photo with Mr. Miyagi
Others by Melissa McCart