Saturday's Devoured Culinary Classic was an exercise in moderation and meticulous planning. With so many tempting options, it was hard to know where to start. So we started at the beginning, by the door, and worked our way around, literally.
Even with careful planning, we still almost missed some locations. They were tucked so far away that finding them was basically an accident. Looking for shade on an 80-degree day was the only way we found some of them. Tucked far away from the rest of the crowd, it would have been easy to miss Sierra Bonita and others.
Due to careful planning, we didn't explode, which seemed like a real possibility even with elastic waist bands in place.
1. Our first pick goes to Sierra Bonita Grill. The Green Chile Posole held the right amount of spice for a soup loaded with pork and hominy with the added toppings of cabbage, cilantro/onion, and lime. Where other restaurants were talking big about their spice, Sierra Bonita Grill delivered. The restaurant's braised pork belly with polenta, over a slaw of kale, jicama, and apple had layers of flavor that kept our interest to the last bit.
2. Roka Akor kept things interested with two dishes as well. The Wagyu bone marrow with squid ink brioche and Japanese mignonette was an interesting dish that challenged our senses. The escargot with white soy and garlic was delightful.
3. Strawberries and cream from Terrazzo was the perfect way to cut some of the heavy meat dishes -- light and dreamy the way strawberries and cream should be, and with the added bit of bread that had an appearance of sea sponges. The dessert kept our interest until the end -- meaning we ate every last bit in that adorable little cup.
4. Blue Hound Kitchen and Cocktails stole the show with their Boudin Balls over grits. These fall-apart tasty balls were melt-in-your-mouth good, and the grits were not so bad, either. Blue Hound had a cute setup, with a fence guiding guests into the area and a giant blue dog standing guard.
5. Cafe Lalibela's Ethiopian dishes were full of flavor and spice. They served chicken stew, red lentils, cabbage carrots and potatoes, and injera. All were wonderful. We would have liked a little more injera with the serving since we were only able to get two scoops with the bread before switching to a fork, but that's a minor complaint.
6.Pork was omnipresent, but Tonto Grill took the game to the next level by using venison. Their venison tenderloin with smoked cauliflower puree was tender and cooked perfectly. Venison is a tricky beast, and usually ends up on the dry side, but it is clear chef Ryan Peters knows how to make a perfectly seasoned and cooked piece of venison. We appreciated the use of cauliflower instead of the super-popular polenta.