As each year comes to an end, Restaurant Business asks top industry professionals to name their favorite restaurant meals of the past 12 months, which, in turn, become our Clean Plate Award winners.
For the second installment of our Clean Plate Awards series, we look at the seafood dishes our judges deemed a league above the rest. Among their picks, trending scallops get a mention and simple yet inventive preparations take center stage.
This year’s Clean Plate Awards judges: Amanda Cohen, chef-owner, New York City’s Dirt Candy; Fabio Viviani, executive chef, Chicago’s Siena Tavern; Brad Kelly, executive chef, Blaze Pizza; Chazz Palminteri, actor-turned-restaurateur, New York’s Chazz Palminteri Ristorante Italiano; Roz Mallet, CEO, multi-concept franchisee PhaseNext Hospitality; Hugh Acheson, chef-owner, Athen, Ga.’s 5 & 10; Bruce Bromberg, co-owner, Blue Ribbon Restaurants; Chris Newcomb, CEO, Newk’s; and Hattie Hill, CEO, Women’s Foodservice Forum.
Seared Diver Scallops, Girl & The Goat, Chicago
Executive Chef and Partner
Siena Tavern and Bar Siena
“The ability to take such a simple and delicate fish and create so much flavor, I love. [Stephanie Izard] takes a dish that is normally on the savory side and adds in pomegranate to make it a sweet mixture.”
Temaki, KazuNori, Los Angeles
The menu here is very simple—about eight options of hand-rolled sushi, says Kent. “This allows them to focus on doing just a few things really well.” Eating on-site is best, to maintain the texture and temperature of the crisp nori, warm rice and ice-cold fillings. “I have a feeling we’ll be seeing more concepts like this, with simple little business models.”
BBQ Shrimp, W.H. Stiles Fish Camp, Ponce City Market, Atlanta
5&10, The National and Empire State South
“A perfect rendition of this classic New Orleans dish.” At the W.H. Stiles location in Ponce City Market, Atlanta’s new food hall, the Louisiana-sourced shrimp are cooked in tomato, Worcestershire and spices, and served with spoonbread to mop up the tangy sauce. “Very NOLA style.”
Late-Night Seafood, J. Sheekey Restaurant, London
Blue Ribbon Restaurants
New York, Los Angeles, Las Vegas and London
This classic fishery overflows with glamour, history and class, says Bromberg. “It provided numerous great late-night meals while we were in London opening up Brooklyn Bowl.” Razor clams, oysters, poached haddock, roast Dover sole—“all are topnotch.”
Langoustines, Costa di Mare at the Wynn Hotel, Las Vegas
CEO and Co-Founder
The langoustines are flown in daily from Italy, and the chef cooks them very simply on the grill so as not to overwhelm their flavor and texture. “The fresh sweetness of the langoustines comes through; you feel as though you are eating on the Amalfi Coast.”