While it may not have been great in other arenas, 2016 was a damn fine year in NYC dining. There were many excellent meals consumed over the course of the past 12 months, from gourmet nostalgia to peak comfort food, some spectacular pizza and a dish trend I hope transcends the calendar year. Thinking back on the plates of food I consumed this year, the one I keep coming back to isn't a plate, but a board. And on that board: the Whitefish Salad at Cherry Point I could happily eat every day until my last day.
Chef and co-owner Julian Calcott, a former executive sous chef at April Bloomfield's genre-defining gastropub The Spotted Pig, puts forth an incredible and ambitious charcuterie program. I'll happily order any of the terrines, but the smoked whitefish—served in a tiny glass jar—is my favorite. The creamy spread has a subtle smoke that doesn't overwhelm the taste of the fish, which remains delicate with a touch of salt.
On the side, Calcott serves homemade saltine crackers, more robust and buttery than their plastic-sleeved counterparts. Speaking of butter, the whitefish also comes with a quenelle of savory and nutty browned butter. As someone who buttered Ritz crackers as a kid, this kind of service imparts a twinge of wistfulness, too.
664 Manhattan Avenue, Greenpoint, 718-389-3828; cherrypointnyc.com
Nachos at El Atoradero
Already given a shout out as a Best New Bite of 2016, I couldn't not also mention the world's most perfect plate of nachos here, too. It's another dish I've dreamed about—and gone back to multiple times—and although Chef Denisse Lina Chavez recently left the restaurant, I'm confident those remaining can keep her excellent cooking consistent. 708 Washington Ave, Prospect Heights, 718-399-8226; elatoraderobrooklyn.com
Sheeps Milk Cheese Filled Agnolotti at Lilia
It was a fantastic year for pasta in NYC—are carbs finally moving off the blacklist?—and many of the best can be found at Missy Robbins blockbuster new restaurant in Williamsburg. Of those, my allegiance lies with the Sheeps Milk Cheese Filled Agnolotti. Plump purses of pasta stuffed with a creamy sheep's milk cheese and doused in a sauce of saffron, dried tomato and honey. It's sweet and savory and luscious and a prime example of how gourmet food can also be comfort food. 567 Union Avenue, Williamsburg, 718-576-3095; lilianewyork.com