Kale Ceasar Salad with smoked prosciutto, roasted garlic cream sauce, pecorino cheese and "awesome herbs and spices." These were salty with a nice little kick, and we were most psyched by the crispy-but-not-rough texture of the kale and the smoky combination of prosciutto and garlic.
Sarah Simmons, City Grit
Mini Chicken Pot Pies. The crust had a crunch that was pretty rockin.
Qi Thai Grill
Pork Satay: Mooh Sa-teyh served with toasted bread, peanut sauce, and cucumber chutney.
Pichet Ong is always fun to run into, and we promised to make his plate look pretty. His skewers of pork were cooked perfectly, then drenched with a peanut sauce that was sweet in a not-too-sweet, delicious way.
Red wine-marinated egg with mustard seeds, trout roe, shallots, mache and rye croutons. The Jersey City eatery brought in their A-game with this stunning display. The dishes were all a-popping with color, and then the inside...
Thirty Acres (part two)
... oozed a perfectly soft-cooked egg with a set white and creamy yolk. The red wine really infused into the white, giving an acidic pop to finish the well-balanced plate. It was definitely one of our favorite plates of the evening.
Pig and Khao
Barbeque pork ribs with Pig and Khao sauce, crispy garlic, scallions and cilantro. We fought a bit over this plate (sharing helps stave off over-stuffing). It had both crispy-crackly bits and juicy innards, and the sweet sauce had an undercurrent of Chinese five spice that we adored.
Local Dayboat Fluke Ceviche: smoky tomato, ginger and black pepper dressing with radishes. Light and fresh, the radishes offered healthy bulk, and the dressing finished it off with a vinegary kick, but the clean fluke was really the star.
Kaia Wine Bar
Lamb Tongue Toastie: Goat cheese cream, arugula and rhubarb-port dressing. The pastry was pleasantly squishy, and the goat cream cheese and port dressing wrapped the tongue in sweetness.
Kaia Wine Bar (part two)
Chef Ivan giving his lamb tongue a sweet rhubarb-port wash.
The Meatball Shop
Buffalo Chicken Balls with Blue Cheese and Frank's Red Sauce. Chef Holzman's balls were a little softer than we're used to, but the flavor balance was stellar, as always. "It's got a nice kick, they didn't wimp out on that."
Red Hook Lobster Pound
Sweet Maine Shrimp Roll. The buttery smell of toasting bread brought a long line to this table, with lightly mayo'd shrimp wrapped delicately alongside crunchy lettuce. Classic.
Country Pate with Spicy Tomato Jam and Pig's Ears on a homemade "Ritz" cracker. The tomato jam was both spicy and sweet, and definitely the standout on this plate.
Ovelia Psistaria Bar
Greek coffee-rubbed skirt steak. What else do we need to say about that? They know how to rub and grill a steak.
Ovelia Psistaria (number two)
Feta drizzled with honey. Crunchy, sweet, smooth...
Mini Kolaches: blueberry and sweet cheese, strawberry and sweet cheese, lemon curd, sausage and feta, spicy beef, and hotlink.
The jalapeno and sausage kolache we noshed across the room made us wish we had gone back and nabbed every one. The sausage was spicy, the cheese was incredibly creamy, and the pastry was so amazingly squishy and fluffy. It inspired a deep "oh my" and was top a five favorite.
Devilish Shrimp, with horchata and guacamole. Yajaira Saavedra is an activist, fighting for immigration reform. A partial owner of La Morada in the Bronx, she's passionate about proving that undocumented workers do contribute to our city and state tax system.
We were on board already with the spicy, tomato-y, garlicky shrimp, and wouldn't be opposed to Chris Crowley taking us there on our upcoming Bronx eating tour.
Yemen Cafe & Restaurant
"Lamb seasoned with imported spices from Yemen and slow-roasted for five hours to make the most tender taste." This was some seriously tender, seriously spiced lamb.
Fletcher's Brooklyn Barbeque
Pitmaster Matt Fischer serving it up with a smile.
Country Pate with Tin's Mustard.
Malbec-braised Short Rib: this meat was incredibly soft and tender, and we would have eaten a meal-sized portion of it with gusto.
The VIP crowd rushed this table where, fittingly, marshmallows were being torched to order.
Stumpton Shorties and Honey Chocolate Blondies also were on the table, but these Salted Chocolate Chip Cookies were so classically delicious we felt they represented strongly enough on their own.
The Blue Stove
Drunken Monkey Pie: "Banana cream pie for discerning adults and drunk monkeys." Vanilla-bourbon crust, caramelized bananas, caramel, and dark chocolate ganache. This was insane.
This crazy spread included Red Velvet Cake, Carrot Cake, and 7 Layer Cake. They were all so pretty, but we just couldn't try them all...
You gotta hand it to the ones who bring out another porchetta a few hours into the event.