Friday, January 18, 2013

Best Meals 2012 #8 Empire State South Pizzeria

Ryan Smith & Hugh Acheson

I decided mid way through the year that I wasn't going to do a best meal or best dish list this year because there were already way too many great ones in the mix. From the delicious and fun visiting chef Pop Up Series hosted by chef Michael Schwartz at Harry's Pizzeria, to the great monthly themed dinners hosted by chef Aaron Brooks at Edge Steak & Bar, to some wonderful wine and champagne dinners along the way and of course, the "underground and experimental" dinners we throw with some creative and talented chefs over at Cobaya Miami.

But some of these meals were truly exceptional and memorable. And I wanted to go back and give them the credit they deserve.

I must admit that ranking these meals was very difficult as all were truly outstanding. As with my normal "tiers", these rankings take all facets of the meal into consideration. While food is the primary component, phenomenal wine or simply a great time will bolster ones rating.

I intended on limiting the list to my Top Twelve for 2012 but it was impossible to cut down to 12. Thus, I went with my top Fifteen plus a tie.

Big thanks to all of the chefs, kitchen crews, managers, sommeliers, bartenders, servers and support staff for making 2012 another happy year for my belly!!


#11 Cobaya "Dundee" @ Edge Steak & Bar
#10 Tasting of Bordeaux @ Bourbon Steak
#9   Barbuto Pizzeria, Jonathan Waxman @ Harry's Pizzeria

I told you guys numerous times not to miss the visiting chef pop-up dinners hosted by chef Michael Schwartz at Harry's Pizzeria.  They are always a lot of fun and some have been truly outstanding.  At number eight on my Best Meals of 2012 is the phenomenal Southern cooking of Hugh Acheson and his executive chef Ryan Smith from Empire State South in Atlanta.

Many of you may be familiar with Hugh from his guest judging spots on Top Chef.  If you are visiting Atlanta, I wouldn't hesitate to swing by Empire.

For some reason, I neglected to write a post about this kick ass dinner.  However, I did send out several tweets during the dinner and have posted them under each respective dish since they capture my initial thoughts as I ate each dish. 

Maker's & spicy ginger soda was a great starter at Empire State South w/ @HughAcheson @ryansmithchef @harryspizzeria

First up was a tasty pimento cheese sandwich.

Fantastic Fried Fuckin Bologna w/ bread & butter pickle on Hawaiian roll @HughAcheson @ryansmithchef

Last tweet until post dinner. Beef tartare w red pepper paste, capers, shallots is off the charts
Empire State South @HughAcheson @ryansmithchef @harryspizzeriapic

Roasted Fig Pizza, house made ricotta ,ESS 16 month ham Empire State South ham.

I just had one of the best salads of all time. Tweet u later...

Here Hugh and Ryan prepared a Florida rock shrimp salad featuring corn, wood roasted rock shrimp, lard mayo, pickled peppers, fermented carrot and peanuts. I really enjoyed the flavors and textures of this awesome salad.

Delish Red Snapper Crudo, pickled seabeans, Ga olive oil, hot sauce and creme fraiche.

Holy mother fuckin shit @HughAcheson & @ryansmithchef just blew the doors off @harryspizzeria w/ wood roasted lamb heart.

If I ranked my best dishes of the year, this one would rank very high. It featured a dynamite wood roasted lamb heart, oatotto,  roasted calabaza and chow chow.

Whole wood roasted cornish game hen with hen jus.

Loved the creamed corn kimchi Empire State South.

Outstanding dinner last night thx to @HughAcheson @ryansmithchef & the @harryspizzeria @mgfd_mia team #killedit

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