Five Familiar Dishes Done Right
Problem is, most times, "everybody" isn't. They just can't do it. Not very well. Not very often. Not really.
Some dishes are like that, too. It seems almost every restaurant serves Caesar salad, fries, and tiramisu, to the point where you'd think it was somehow written into law, like sanitation procedures or handicap access. Problem is, "almost every restaurant" doesn't do these time-honored, crowd-pleasing favorites very well.
Luckily, for every clueless critic, talent-free guitarist and dumbshit expert, there's a Calvin Trillin, a Joe Satriani and a Stephen Hawking. And for every crappy, cook-by-numbers Caesar salad, pile of french fries and cocoa-dusted square of tiramisu, there's a restaurant that knocks these dishes outta the park.
Caesar salad, Cut 432. This ubiquitous mélange of romaine lettuce and croutons with a garlicky, eggy, lemony dressing has been abused so often you should probably call 911. But Cut chef Tony Pizzo comes to the rescue with a bowl of crisp, pale-green leaves and a creamy, pungent dressing that's a welcome slap to the taste buds.
Crabcakes, Racks Downtown Eatery + Tavern. Few dishes are more disgusting than a badly made crabcake or one made with less-than-pristinely-fresh crab.No worries at Gary Racks' upscale new Boca joint. Here, the crabcakes are lightly bound discs of chunky, sea-sweet crab with a tangy French-style remoulade for contrast.
Fries, The Capital Grille. It's hard to improve on the humble stick of potato, fried twice in clean, hot oil and liberally dusted with salt. The Boca outpost (6000 Glades Rd., 561-368-1077) of this chain of upscale meateries does, however -- gracing their crisp, greaseless, golden fries with a drizzle of seductive truffle oil and shavings of nutty-tasting Parmesan.
Gnocchi, Caruso. Believe it or not, "gnocchi" is not Italian for "there's a lead weight at the bottom of my stomach," though this simple combination of potato, flour and egg can achieve the density of lead. Not at Caruso, where the little pellets are exceptionally light and delicate, and the chef will sauce them almost any way you like.
Tiramisu, Arturo's. Roughly translated as "pick me up," a couple bites of this omnipresent dessert at most restaurants will leave you thinking it actually means "put me down." You won't put your fork down on this tiramisu, though, with its ladyfingers infused with four different liqueurs and mascarpone whipped to the consistency of clouds.