PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- At this point I've eaten at more restaurants than I can count, and as difficult as it is to pick favorites, there's always some bites that stand out. Here are my top dishes of 2021!
Let's just say that this first menu item surprised me in more ways than one. It's the Eggplant Braciole from Vedge, Midtown Villages' top vegan restaurant, where the menu is comprised almost entirely of vegetables. For starters, I'm not a huge fan of eggplant or olives, so it's already a mystery how I love this so much. It's thinly sliced eggplant, roasted in olive oil and salt. They take more eggplant, chargrill it with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper, roll all of that up and stuff it with more eggplant, roasted cauliflower and jasmine rice. Next, they bake it, and serve over an Italian salsa verde and top it with olive puree and julienne piquillo peppers.
The Charbroiled Oysters from SET in Northern Liberties are an appetizer that you won't want to share with anyone else. The plate comes with six grilled oysters smothered with garlic butter and parmesan cheese, and I slurped them up all by myself, without giving it a second thought.
Sampan in Midtown Village is known for their modern Asian cuisine and spectacular happy hour, and for me, their Edamame Dumplings. The dumplings are a wheat starch and rice flour dough stuffed with edamame that's cooked in a seasoned broth, pureed with truffle oil, and finished with a little butter, and served in a bowl of truffled sake broth. They are also technically an appetizer but I promise, if you eat enough of them you'll be full and happy in no time.
At Positano Coast in Old City, you're gonna want to order the Zucchini Crab Cake! It's jumbo lump crab meat and thin slices of zucchini that form the crab cake patty, placed on top of perfectly cooked potatoes and garlic spinach, then drizzled with lemon butter. I order it every time I step foot into the restaurant whether I'm there for work or play.
Cafe la Maude in Northern Liberties is the best French-Lebanese style breakfast that you've ever had, and, let's be honest, it will probably be the only time you eat this combination of two styles of cooking. Their Red Shakshuka is what dreams are made of. It's sautéed onions and peppers braised with tomato sauce, Lebanese sausage, chickpeas, pesto, fingerling potatoes and yogurt, with two sunny-side-up eggs all in one bowl, with pita for dipping. Mix it all up and enjoy.
This next item is the best piece of meat you will ever try in your entire life, and I'm not kidding. It's the Butcher's Cut steak from Steak 48 in Center City. It gets its name because it's the cut of meat that the butchers would traditionally keep for themselves! It's 12 oz of the outer end cap of a wagyu ribeye so it has tons of marbling and quite literally melts in your mouth like butter. Also, do yourself a favor and order it medium-rare.
Well, so long 2021, it's been a real one...and hey 2022, I'm coming in hot, and I'm hungry for more! (You've been warned.)