Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Bits & Morsels: Top Fall Dishes

Isola’s agnolotti with sweet yellow corn and seared golden chanterelles.
by Erin Frankel

Last week we finally experienced what felt like our first day of fall. With the change of seasons comes a change of menus for many of New York City's restaurants, who have added heartier, comfort-inspired foods. Whether you’re hoping for gratifying baby backed ribs, a signature souffle, fried chicken inside of a waffle cone, or simply a hot bowl of spicy miso soup, I’ve compiled a list of some of the best seasonal dishes New York City restaurants have to offer this fall:

Hibino’s Kobocha Vichyssoise-Chilled Vichyssoise.
'wichcraft’s roasted pumpkin with mozzarella.
Isola’s dining room.
Sen’s spicy miso soup.
David Burke Kitchen’s Angry Pressed Prawns.
Barraca’s Paella.
The Brooklyn Star’s Fried Chicken in a waffle cone.
Ken & Cook’s Veal Papperdelle.
Benchmark Restaurant’s Smoked Baby Back Ribs with Spicy Pickled Watermelon Salad and Molasses BBQ.
Principessa’s Penette Alla Norma with Eggplant, Tomato, & Buffalo Mozzarella.
Capsouto Freres’ Souffle.
1.) Hibino’s Kobocha Vichyssoise-Chilled Vichyssoise with Saikyo Miso Kabocha Pumpkin, Dashi, Onion, Rice Crackers and Chives. Hibino translates to “daily” in Japanese. At this Cobble Hill gem, chef Hirohisa Hayashi offers a twist on Japanese comfort food classics, combining traditional American fall ingredients (pungent pumpkin flavors) with his modern Japanese foundation (a thick Vichyssoise broth with a small miso element).

2.) ‘wichcraft’s roasted pumpkin with mozzarella and hazelnut brown butter served on grilled country bread. Executive chef Mike Barbera reinvents everyone's favorite staple by adding hearty fall flavors to the iconic childhood gem, otherwise known as the "grilled cheese sandwich." The secret to Barbera’s sandwich is the addition of sweet roasted pumpkin (spiked with hazelnut brown butter), which, when mixed with the melted gooey mozzarella cheese between two crispy loafs of bread, is pure satisfaction.

3.) Isola’s agnolotti with sweet yellow corn and seared golden chanterelles. This luxurious greenhouse-inspired space inside of the Mondrian Soho offers many light Mediterranean choices, but there is one sweet and hearty dish that is the ultimate crowd-pleaser. Chef Victor LaPlaca pays homage to his Italian roots with a variety of seasonal ingredients. In this case — juiced sweet corn and seared chanterelles that make up his seasonally stuffed agnolotti.

4.) Sen’s spicy miso soup with tofu, wakame, and minced scallion. Almost everything on the menu at this Sag Harbor mainstay will please the palate, but on a cold, rainy day, Sen’s signature spicy miso soup does you good. Minced scallions perfumes the broth, wakame brings a healthy bit of green to the party, and the spicy Sriracha gives a gentle fall kick. Look out for Sen’s opening in Flatiron within the next month where partners Tora Matsuoka and Jeff Resnick have teamed up with chef Wayne Nish to create a menu that unites Japanese ingredients with French techniques.

5.) David Burke Kitchen’s Angry Pressed Prawns. David Burke Kitchen is known for its seasonal variety show-stopping spreads of charcuterie, cheeses, jam jars, pretzel crab cakes, smoked pastrami salmon, and fragrant roasted meats. New to the menu this fall is a fresh handmade pappardelle with basil, spiked with a light spicy tomato sauce. A large, flavorful pressed prawn sits on this pasta perch.

6.) Barraca’s Paella. Brand new to the West Village from the Rayuela/Macondo team is a new Spanish joint named for the traveling theaters in Spain, Barraca. Chef Jesus Nunez focuses on Iberian classics, comprising garlic-infused, sizzling bites all meant for sharing until the wee hours of 3AM. You can graze on a Spanish feast of tapas ranging from wispy slices of Serrano Ham, authentic Iberian Chicken & Oyster Croquettes, or chef Nunez’s grandmother’s Albondigas. But the standout entrees on the list is Nunez’s six different Paella combinations. The Paella de Mariscos or the uniquely vegetable-based paella, all of which you can get prepared in a split-pan (duo or trio), are fantastic.

7.) The Brooklyn Star’s Fried Chicken in a waffle cone. Yes, a recipe for cardiac arrest, but delicious nonetheless. Chef Joaquin Baca prepares her fried chicken with an extra crispy crust on a bed of mashed potatoes, slaw, and fatty bits of bacon — all tossed with a creamy bacon buttermilk dressing and spicy wing sauce.

8.) Ken & Cook’s Veal Papperdelle. Jean-Georges’ alums opened this warm and inviting version of an industrial-inspired brasserie. Although the restaurant is known for its exquisite raw bar, the Veal Pappardelle seasoned with radicchio and fresh tomato oozes with the rich flavors of braised meat bathed in a light yet hearty sauce.

You’ll feel pretty cool sitting at one of the booths in the small but boisterous space among some of the swankiest eaters in this town.

9.) Benchmark Restaurant’s Smoked Baby Back Ribs with Spicy Pickled Watermelon Salad and Molasses BBQ. Chef Ryan Jaronik’s New American cuisine highlights locally sourced produce and pasture-raised animals, as in his signature slow cooked baby back ribs, which are juicy and succulent (and blessed with a thick pepper crust). The ribs are dressed with a sweet Southern-inspired molasses BBQ sauce and complemented by a locally grown pickled watermelon salad for a perfect finish. All in all, a good reason to trek to Park Slope.

10.) Principessa’s Penette Alla Norma with Eggplant, Tomato, & Buffalo Mozzarella. Sometimes the most simple pastas are the best. Here, chef Kevin Garcia imbues a simple Italian staple — penne with eggplant, tomato, and buffalo mozzarella — with pungent flavor and fresh melted layers of buffalo mozzarella. The result is a modern, yet delicate, take on a dish that is fresh, hearty, and flavorful. Once you pass through the large French doors into the small white-walled room, you're sold.

11.) Capsouto Freres’ Souffle.  Since 1979, this old Tribeca gem has withheld the changing face of the neighborhood, retaining its title of “Best Souffle in NYC” throughout the decades. The fluffy, decadent souffle is perfectly sweet and rich, and the nuance of the chef’s technique and texture is pronounced in each bite. The perfect dessert!