The annual Menu of Menus grand tasting is much more than just a night for our readers to come out, meet their favorite restaurants, find new favorites and get their faces stuffed with delicious grub. It's also a fierce competition.
A wooden token was given to each guest as they entered Silver Street Station last night, good for one vote to the restaurant that wowed them the most. Newcomers Maine-ly Sandwiches and the Eatsie Boys -- serving buttery lobster rolls and Shipley's donut-flavored ice cream topped with specially-baked mini donut holes, respectively -- looked poised to win, but it was another newcomer that swept the competition last night.
Frank's Americana Revival, which opened just this past December, won in a landslide of tokens for its beautifully presented plate of braised short ribs, carrots and pearl oninos over a creamy scoop of jalapeño-cheese grits. Classy comfort speaks to the heart every time.
In the second annual Iron Fork competition, defending champion Kevin Naderi -- chef and owner of Roost -- beat the odds-on favorite, chef Ryan Hildebrand of Triniti, to take home the [literal, and quite heavy] Iron Fork once again.
In the course of the 45-minute live cooking competition, the chefs were responsible for creating two dishes out of a secret ingredient chosen by Iron Fork emcee Randy Evans -- chef and owner of Haven -- and presenting them to a panel of judges. That secret ingredient? Quinoa, which the creative chefs quickly pulverized into flour to make gnocchi and fettuccine.
Along with a full pantry of food supplied by Whole Foods Market, the two chefs cranked out an appetizer and an entree in the 45-minute timeframe, with Hildebrand assisted by his trusty chef de cuisine, Greg Lowry. In the end, however, the Triniti team didn't finish plating its fettuccine entree and therefore lost on a small technicality. That said, Hildebrand and Lowry did turn out an amazing appetizer of perfectly-cooked bay scallops coated in quinoa, over a bed of fresh vegetables with a surprisingly lovely banana puree.
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Naderi's entree of quinoa gnocchi didn't turn out exactly as he'd planned -- "It's tough to get the consistency right; the flour didn't get as fine as I wanted," he told emcee Randy Evans -- but the fluffy pillows of pasta in a truffle cream sauce made for a fine feast regardless. Naderi will be back next year to defend his title once again, and we hope to see you there once again as well.