1. Egg, Cheese, and Ham Crepe, Flint Crepe Company
With as many options and fresh, seasonal ingredients as these guys offer, one gem that is hiding in plain sight is one of my favorite things to eat, period. Deceptively simple, the egg, cheese, and ham crepe is as French as the Marseillaise and satisfying without being heavy.
2. Pour-Over Iced Coffee, Wildroot Coffee at Woodside
You haven’t had iced coffee until you’ve had one prepared this way: carefully brewed by hand with a fine filter and a beaker of ice. It takes a couple of minutes to make – just like all good things, your patience will be rewarded. You can even select your own coffee variety for a truly custom brew, made just for you. Slightly sweet, toasty, yet clear and shimmering, this is the only way to go for good coffee in the summer.
3. Bocci Bolognese, Ruggero’s
Renowned for pizza, Ruggero’s on Corunna Road actually offers a much broader menu with authentic Italian recipes that go back generations. Recently I tried this pasta stuffed with prosciutto ham and cheese, and sauced with a shimmering, perfectly mild yet tangy sauce. It’s a thing of beauty, and, unlike pizza, will genuinely make you feel like you’re eating like a grown up.
4. The Slammer, Pesto’s
Another landmark for Italian fare, I am told that their menu is augmented by frequently changing specials that are consistently impressive. But my staple selection? None other than “The Slammer”. I must confess, I’m not really sure about the name – is it an oblique reference to crime, or an indication of how fast I’m going to scarf this thing? Dagwood himself would swoon: It’s a “grinder” style sandwich, stuffed with ham, salami, pepperoni, mozzarella, lettuce, tomato, and a crazy-good green olive dressing. Order the full-size version, and you might have enough to take home for a midnight snack.
5. House Burger, Soggy Bottom
What is that house sauce, and why have I never had anything that delicious on a burger before? Why, Soggy Bottom? WHY? Or maybe it’s the caramelized onions. Yeah, that’s it.
6. Fish & Chips, Blackstone’s
I have it on good authority from an authentic Dubliner gentleman that the only way to properly garnish this dish is with malt vinegar. So ask your waiter.
7. Ham & Cheese Croissant, Crust
I think that every city in the world should be judged first by its ham & cheese croissant. It’s a yardstick of civilization. I’ve had them in Paris and London. I’ve had them in New York, Portland, Seattle, and Chicago. Fenton? You’ve made my shortlist of awesome. The good folks at Crust won’t even ship them to their other locations, because to refrigerate them would ruin them. So if you don’t live or work in Fenton, make the drive, order the ham & cheese croissant, and bask in the glory.
8. Spicy Tuna Bento Box, Chubby Duck
Actually, the spiciest thing included in the box isn’t the tuna roll – it is the spinach soup. Holy chili peppers! The roll is made to order, with a seared tuna, crunchy veg, mild garnish, and perfectly cooked rice.
9. Strawberry Phyllo, Pesto’s
Pesto’s is on this list twice? Yep: they offer a dessert with layers of super-flaky puff pastry with sweet strawberries, mascarpone, and whipped cream. I’m pretty sure this dessert ensures a romantic evening all by itself.