Most people track their year through major milestones, accomplishments, or even unfortunate events — sister got married, grandfather celebrated his 90th birthday, best friend had a baby, or sworn enemy got that promotion at work. Us? We define ours through food. A look back at our favorite dishes and drinks of 2012 reveals a banner year for Brooklyn restaurants — here’s hoping that 2013 ends up equally crave-worthy.
Hoi Thawt at Pok Pok Ny
A Thai street vendor specialty, this mild tasting seafood crepe is the perfect foil for the full on flavor assault of Pok Pok’s other sweet/savory/spicy/tangy/sour dishes — an Asian funnel cake of sorts with fresh PEI mussels, green chives, Shark-brand sriracha and bean sprouts.
Braised Oxtails at The Wallace
Chef Jon Wallace takes this humble cut of beef to stratospheric heights. Braised until meltingly tender and served on a consummately creamy puddle of polenta, they’d make a worthy menu addition at any high-end restaurant in town.
Burnt Ends at Fletcher’s Brooklyn Barbecue
Move over Fette Sau, Fort Reno and Mable’s Smokehouse — this brand new Gowanus addition is throwing down the smoked meat gauntlet in Brooklyn’s burgeoning barbecue row. Our blue ribbon goes to a heap of fatty, caramelized ends from their top-notch beef brisket.
Shrimp Po-Boy at Pork Slope
Don’t be swayed by the pig at Pork Slope (at least not exclusively). This crustacean-crammed sandwich is easily one of the best po-boy’s we’ve had outside of the Big Easy.
- Photo Peter Hobbs for Nonabrooklyn
Kale Salad at Battersby
Never has there been a veggie as overexposed as kale, or a salad as consistently lauded as Battersby’s, but we just can’t swim against the tide on this one, no matter how much we’d like to.
Langoustine and Sweetbreads at Maison Premiere
Chef Jared-Stafford Hill added a selection of seafood small plates to Maison Premiere’s regular bounty of raw oysters four months ago. We particularly love this refined play on surf and turf — silky orbs of veal sweetbreads and Scottish langoustines conjoined by a velvety stock of shellfish and sweet onions.
Baked Potato Pizza at PeteZaaz
We’ve seriously considered moving to Crown Heights so this quirky slice shop could be our local pizza joint. Sure their loaded potato skin-inspired pie sounds like stoner food, but it’s also freaking delicious by anyone’s standards.
Uni Mazemen at Yuji Ramen
We were first introduced to Yuji Haraguchi’s brand of brothless ramen during a collaboration with Prospect Heights favorite Chuko, and happily followed him to Smorgasburg on the strength of his luxurious, sea urchin-flecked noodles.
Dry Rub Chicken Wings at Mulholland’s
As one of the judges at a Brooklyn-based wings competition last year, we threw all of our support behind these audaciously sauceless specimens, anointed with little more than a smattering of spice and a squeeze of lime. We may have been argued down in the end, but retain the power to put them on our personal 2012 best-of list.
Brooklyn Cheesesteak at David’s Brisket House
We had never considered muddying our house-smoked brisket experience before by piling it with sautéed onions, green peppers, and American cheese, but now we’re convinced this is the way everyone should eat it. Someone tell Philly.
Cheddar Chive Biscuit at Dujour Bakery
It’s hard to ignore the sweets case at this excellent new bakery, but a walk on the savory side reaps serious dividends. Even when brown bagged, transported on the subway and eaten slightly cold, this intensely cheesy, flaky, and sea salt-dusted biscuit is a definite winner.
St. John’s Martini at Fort Defiance
Owner St. John Frizell demonstrates you can’t beat a perfectly executed classic at his funky Red Hook cocktail bar. His Plymouth gin and dry vermouth martini is simply topped with orange bitters and a twist — minus the bells, whistles, and superfluous add-ins.
Banana Cream Pie at Rabbithole Restaurant
If this is a dessert you never think of ordering outside of diners, you better make an exception. Although Rabbithole’s waist-padding version is full of sticky sweet things — all-butter crust, fat chunks of ripe banana, vanilla-bean flecked custard, ethereal clouds of whipped cream — you can (and will) eat the whole thing without going into sugar shock.
Fried Artichokes at L&B Spumoni Gardens
This war-horse of a pizzeria and restaurant happens to serve up the best damn fried artichokes we’ve ever had anywhere — long stemmed, full-flowered, and showered with parsley, good olive oil, and parmesan.
Beef on Weck at Two Door Tavern
How we missed trying this Western NY specialty during the four years we spent upstate at college we’ll never know. Thankfully, we can make up for lost time at this casual Williamsburg eatery, which serves their rare roast beef the proper way — soaked in natural au jus, slathered in horseradish sauce, and deposited on a homemade Kummelweck roll.
Korean Fried Chicken at Talde
Largely considered to be one of the best restaurants in Brooklyn, it’s hard to believe this Park Slope pan-Asian joint opened barely a year ago. Their exemplary quartered-bird has swept all other southern-fried versions by the wayside — fried crisp in rice flour and drizzled with a zesty mix of yogurt and kimchee.
Beet Gnocchi at Vicolo
If we had to pick just one of the homemade pastas at this new Italian restaurant (a tall order), we’d have to pick the ruby-red pillows of light-as-air gnocchi, laked in gorgonzola and sweet cream. Sound overly rich? Not enough to keep us from clearing our plate — and everyone else’s.
Iced Coffee at Grady’s Cold Brew
Since we practically have iced coffee running though our veins, we’re considering hooking an IV up to a cart carrying Grady’s superior cold brew. The New Orleans-style coffee is steeped with chicory and double-filtered, leaving a cup that’s full-bodied and bracing without being harsh or overly bitter.
Truffles at Delisos Chocolates
We hold firm by our statement that this new Bay Ridge chocolatier makes the best cocoa candies we’ve ever had anywhere in our entire lives, and we’re intimately acquainted with all of the major contenders. So if you still think Nunu, Godiva, or even Mast Brothers are the be all end all, better get your asses here quick.
Maltagliati at The Pines
This unctuous pasta dish breaks the cardinal rule of combining seafood (bouchon mussels) and cheese (creamy burrata), but talented chef Angelo Romano aptly demonstrates that culinary rules are always made to be broken.