Slideshow: Our 30 Favorite Bites from Taste of the Nation

Landmarc: Shrimp Toast with Chili Vinaigrette, Pickled Cucumber, and Cilantro Salad
Landmarc: Shrimp Toast with Chili Vinaigrette, Pickled Cucumber, and Cilantro Salad
Quality ingredients balanced together for, as they put it, "in your face, bold flavors that you expect from the Landmarc brand. With refinement. Yeah." An excellent composed plate.
Beurre and Sel: Honey and Tea Jammers
Beurre and Sel: Honey and Tea Jammers
Dorie Greenspan knows how to make a simple, hearty cookie. This one was a neither too-sweet nor dry, with a solid cookie bottom home to a crumb top and bright berry filling. Really fresh and satisfying, we started daydreaming of the classy housewarming gifts the adorned boxes from Dorie would make.
Willow Road: Mini Shrimp Roll with Jalapeno
Willow Road: Mini Shrimp Roll with Jalapeno
This nice, light bite was a great welcome to the warmer season. We wished it would have had more of a jalapeño punch, but loved that the bread wasn't too doughy so it didn't override the shrimp.
Il Bucco Alimentari: Bone Marrow and Fava Bean Bruschetta
Il Bucco Alimentari: Bone Marrow and Fava Bean Bruschetta
Simple but packing lots of flavor, this dish was clean with a subtle, moist touch of bone marrow rather than an overpowering wallop the savory center often brings.
The Marrow: Taylor Bay Scallops with Giardiniera Minionette
The Marrow: Taylor Bay Scallops with Giardiniera Minionette
Chef Harold Dieterle brought a sweet, smooth, crunchy, lightly vinegary scallop that wasn't teeming with too much acid and was texturally balanced by a lovely crunch. We loved how no one flavor overwhelmed the other, but were layered into the one bite.
The Marrow Team
The Marrow Team
Yes, gentlemen, you can look tough behind a plate of scallops. Chef Dieterle shows us how.
Chef / Owner George Mendes of Aldea
Chef / Owner George Mendes of Aldea
"It's really about Spring on a plate, that's the idea." Chef Mendes shares about his plate, where ramps were the star of the season.
Aldea: Charred Ramps, Sweet Asparagus, Sweet Peas and Mushroom Puree
Aldea: Charred Ramps, Sweet Asparagus, Sweet Peas and Mushroom Puree
Very fresh and crisp, the mushroom puree was incredibly creamy and citrusy.
Ai Fiori: Fluke Panzanella
Ai Fiori: Fluke Panzanella
Tim Lu, sous chef at Ai Fiori, uses fluke from Montauk and garnishes it with a classic Panzanella bread salad with tomato confit, olive, and basil. It was sweet, savory and a bit briny, and we would have been very happy with a dozen of these little bites, a bottle of good wine, and a rooftop.
 Porter House: Dry-Aged Sirloin French Dip
Porter House: Dry-Aged Sirloin French Dip
With pickled red onion and chipotle aioli, we loved everything between the potato roll. The meat was sliced just right for a French dip, the chipotle aioli added rather than distracted, and the pickled onion rounded out the texture.
Gramercy Tavern: Thyme Cracker with Whipped Ricotta, Asparagus and Quinoa Salad
Gramercy Tavern: Thyme Cracker with Whipped Ricotta, Asparagus and Quinoa Salad
Chef Lena was still smiling towards the end of the night, serving up the earthiest dish of the evening. We loved the savory thyme cracker and the soulful balance of bright asparagus, slightly crunchy quinoa, and bitter radish all smoothed out with a little ricotta and a burst of citrus.
Chef Kenny Callahan of Blue Smoke
Chef Kenny Callahan of Blue Smoke
"Yum yum yum" says Chef Kenny Callahan of Blue Smoke. And, indeed, the Moroccan spices he rubbed on these lamb ribs were yum, yum, yum.
Union Square Café: Bambino Bombe
Union Square Café: Bambino Bombe
Dark chocolate, salted peanuts, vanilla caramel, and chocolate nougat were packed into the adorable bites by pastry Chef Sunny Raymond. We warned her that they were so adorable eaters might not be aware they were the treat; one bite in, and there was no denying the power of the little Bambinos.
Union Square Café: Bambino Bombe
Union Square Café: Bambino Bombe
The interior of Chef Sunny's flavor-packed little bombes. We loved the crunchy / light / dark / super-sweet balance.
The Meatball Shop: Pizza in a ball!
The Meatball Shop: Pizza in a ball!
"A pizza crammed into a ball," this had pepperoni, pork, veal, beef, Parmesan and provolone cheeses, and a "whole bunch of Italian goodness." Director of Marketing Andy Rosenberg tearily swore, "it sends me directly to Italy with every bite."
 Mild End Deli: Confit Chicken Gizzard, Lamb Bacon, Cider Glaze
Mild End Deli: Confit Chicken Gizzard, Lamb Bacon, Cider Glaze
Sticking to "traditional Jewish cooking," they used the nose-to-tail approach on this plate by making chicken gizzards the focus and house-made lamb bacon instead of pork bacon "to keep it a little extra Jewy over here." (Their quote, not ours). We maaaaaay have gone back selfishly for a second helping of this incredibly savory, sweet, crunchy cider-laden bite.
Atera:
Atera: "Caviar and Beer"
We took one look at this and assumed it was a chocolate macaron or something. The adorning sign boasting "Caviar and Beer" would raise more than a few eyebrows if the table weren't helmed by Chef Matt Lightner. His team dries beer foam to make a macaron with which he sandwiches some divine caviar. It's salty, buttery, light and fluffy. "You could eat a hundred of them and not know it."
Dirt Candy: Tomato Tart with Smoked Feta
Dirt Candy: Tomato Tart with Smoked Feta
"Smoky, fresh, chewy, delicious and amazing..." Our team had a hard time not using the word "perfect" for this one. The tomato was crisp and fresh with a lingering smokiness, and the fruit leather was reminiscent of an apricot fruit rollup. Overheard: "I usually hate vegetarian food but that was really good."
Chefs Harold Moore and Francois Payard
Chefs Harold Moore and Francois Payard
Pastry Chef Payard bear-hugged the Commerce Chef Moore, and seemed very excited by the plate as well.
Ed's Chowder House: Ed's Loaded New England Clam Chowder with Mini Jalapeno Cheddar Biscuits
Ed's Chowder House: Ed's Loaded New England Clam Chowder with Mini Jalapeno Cheddar Biscuits
Creamy, not too salty, with a "flavor of the sea without being fishy," we loved the soft and savory biscuits, though we pondered the questionable presence of jalapeno.
Colonie: Chilled Squash Soup with Feta Cheese and Fried Leeks
Colonie: Chilled Squash Soup with Feta Cheese and Fried Leeks
An autumn soup revamped for spring, this dish met the season well with creamy cheese that was only too salty until stirred into the fried leeks and sweet squash. A nice complex soup for the season.
A Voce: Smoked Swordfish with Sesame
A Voce: Smoked Swordfish with Sesame
A "supercool dish" is how Chef Missy Robbins sets up describing this incredibly balanced plate. We were most impressed with the truly perfectly cooked swordfish—not even slightly pink in the middle yet not even a touch too overcooked nor dry. A little sweetness from the sesame honey and a slight kick of Calabrian chili balanced out the fish, which Robbins smokes for that smooth texture and rounded flavor.
Edi and the Wolf / Seasonal: House-cured Duck Breast, Pickled Ramps and Elderflower Dressing on Rye
Edi and the Wolf / Seasonal: House-cured Duck Breast, Pickled Ramps and Elderflower Dressing on Rye
With Chef Edi in Austria and Chef Wolfgang holding down the fort at Seasonal, Chef Alexander of Edi and the Wolf ("I hate it! Just kidding.") gave us the savory scoop: "We cure the duck in a wet cure with a lot spices like salt, sugar, honey, anise, and fennel, then use a lot of different radishes—watermelon, black, etc.—in a really easy dressing of elderflower syrup, lemon juice, olive oil, and a little sugar, mustard, and salt. We mix it up to marinate, then put it on the bread or on top of a salad."
Edi and the Wolf / Seasonal: House-cured Duck Breast, Pickled Ramps and Elderflower Dressing on Rye
Edi and the Wolf / Seasonal: House-cured Duck Breast, Pickled Ramps and Elderflower Dressing on Rye
Not too salty, "fresh, young and delightful" with sweet and warm pickled ramps, this plate was a testament to the idea that duck doesn't always have to be riddled with fat. The anise and fennel that went into the wet cure stood out in subtle and delightful ways. We could have definitely eaten an entire plate of this.