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It took centuries for American restaurants to understand what American customers want. And the conclusion is that the food doesn’t have to be American, the setting doesn’t have to be stylish, and the waiters can put on whatever they want, even the T-shirt they wore the night before.

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Just make sure the restaurant is infused with the American spirit! – casual, kindhearted, original and a little loud!! Oh and we ask that the chef exhibit great cooking skills! With that said, we present ten restaurants which are redefining the fine dining experience. These watering holes are aware of what we want in a perfect night out.


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LITTLE SEROW VEDGE
1511 17th Street NW;
Washington, DC 20036
Cuisine: Thai

Do not expect your average Thai restaurant!

When entering Little Serow, you are transported to the rugged terrain of northern Thailand. Serow is equipped with electric green walls; bluegrass music wails from the sound system. Staff is decked out in hipster-styled thick-framed glasses.

Standout dishes include: chili relish bundled in rice, minced pork and sawtooth; catfish with galangal and kaffir lime; as well as pork ribs marinated with Mekong whiskey.


HOG & HOMINY
707 W. Brookhaven Circle;
Memphis, TN 38117
Cuisine: Italian & Southern

What happens when you take the creative soul of the South and combine it with the culinary flare of Italy? Southern and Italian, an all-new, totally delightful fusion cuisine. Restaurants are rarely this original or this much fun.

The atmosphere is bright, simple, and cheerful. The waiters look fresh out of school, the music is ’50s rock, tables are blond, with chairs yellow. And the food a fascinating style of cooking that seems not to have existed until Hog & Hominy came along.

Dishes such as creamed corn as well as sweetbreads with supple inside, crusty outside, served with both a vinaigrette and a sweet-and- spicy sauce. Try their peanut-butter pie with nearly an inch of mushy banana filling, and another inch of peanut-butter crème, and a pile of whipped cream, all on a cookie crust.


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VEDGE
1221 Locust St.;
Philadelphia, PA19107
Cuisine: French Vegan
www.vedgerestaurant.com

French cuisine done vegan style!!

The food and service traveled to a dimension in the culinary world where veganism has never been and where vegetables generally rarely go. French classicism without the butter and cream that exemplifies French extravagance. Crisp celery-root fritters lacked nothing, while squash pierogi were more delicate than pierogi ever get. All the dishes had extraordinary balance and savoriness. Nothing was absent from this meal, and let’s not forget that meat and fish weren’t present. Make sure to try the Vedge pairing of smoked tofu with golden beets and rye.


UCHI
904 Westheimer Rd.;
Houston, TX 77006
Cuisine: Sushi
uchirestaurants.com

Prepare yourself for irresistible possibilities!! Tempura-tangled vegetable strips either smoky, curried, garlicky, or grilled. Begin your experience with kakiage; you will never be the same. Baby yellowtail with ponzu, Thai chiles, and orange slices are so exquisite, so balanced, your eyes might roll back in your head. Credit Nobu Matsuhisa for introducing America to raw fish and chiles, maybe raw fish and ponzu, too. But fish and fruit? The dish is silky, sweet, tart, and even a little salty, an all-time great. If you’ve been bored by sashimi, you won’t be here.


WEST BRIDGE
1 Kendall Square, B-300;
Cambridge, MA 02139
Cuisine: French

The best damn college bar!

Named for the old West Boston Bridge that once linked Boston and Cambridge, West Bridge looks like a cross between an Ikea and a casual college dining hall. It’s both a restaurant and a refuge, a jumble of slouching students, oddball decorative touches, coats strewn across unoccupied spaces and, unexpectedly, pristine food and drink.

The food is French cuisine, mostly derived from the imagination of chef Matthew Gaudet. He offers dishes such as Egg in a Jar, a tiny tower of food, including a duck egg, potato puree, and hen-of-the-woods mushrooms; mussels immersed within a broth loaded with pure, buttery essence, including a honey-and-thyme vinaigrette and a chowder with clams and smoked pork. A drink and dish not to miss: François Chidaine Vouvray Les Argiles, a crisp and luscious French white wine, plus black-Tuscan-kale-and- duck-confit salad.


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OXHEART
1302 Nance St.;
Houston, TX 77002
Cuisine: Seafood & Vegetables
oxhearthouston.com

This thirty-seat spot is not a vegetarian restaurant, but vegetables aren’t a side dish and are never insignificant. Chef Justin Yu cooks a tasty menu which starts with sunflower-seed soup containing “burnt onions” and topped with puffed grains and puffed rice. The rustic, pungent liquid, slices of pumpkin prepared with vadouvan (an Indian-French spice blend that no aspiring young chef can be without), hibiscus, and that borage, here braised and impossibly delicious. Yu is a mastermind of madcap vegetation. Yu’s wife Karen Man is the pastry chef servicing delicious desserts like grapefruit with frozen yogurt and Meyer lemon tart. If you love vegetables and pastries, do not miss this meal: Heredia Viña Gravonia, a slightly oxidized very nutty, full-bodied Spanish white wine, plus warm sunflower-seed soup.


CENTRAL KITCHEN
3000 20th St.;
San Francisco, CA 94110
Cuisine: Northern California
centralkitchensf.com

The decor at Central Kitchen is decidedly eccentric. A fusion of rustic decor and glossy cuisine sets the tone, preparing you for a haute cuisine provided by pasta savant Thomas McNaughton! His plates seemed to possess dozens of elements – roasted beets, marinated mussels, shiny radishes with cluttered butter and salt; lobster with avocado and parsnips puree and a blanket of sweet tastes over the lush crustacean meat.

A drink and dish not to miss: Dionhoff Estate Riesling, a crisp, fresh, well-lanced German white plus roasted beets, from age blanc and rye crumble.


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BACO MERCAT
408 S. Main St,;
Los Angeles, CA 90013
Cuisine: Mediterranean

In Los Angeles, the shared plate capital of America, no restaurant captures the spirit of this statement and carries out the concept as imaginatively and flawlessly as Bäco Mercat, a mesmerizing amalgam of influences that seem based in America but travel worldwide. Enjoy stunning dishes such as Abkhazina-chile, spiced hamachi crudo with avocado, and crisp potato pancake Pork di testa in olive oil.

Drink and dish not to miss: “Adam” Hearty Old World Ale, dark and sweet. And smoky plus warm eggplant salad and cucumbers.


ST. ANSELM
355 Metropolitan Ave.;
Brooklyn, NY 11211
Cuisine: Steak House

Unassuming and nontraditional, this steak house upon first glance does not resemble the locations we have grown to associate with servicing prime rib. But please do not allow the lack of tradition to prevent you from entering this location. If you hunger for classic meat and potato with thick, beefy prime this is the location for you! Signature steak is the hanger – plenty garlicky, a little salty, considerably chewy, and priced at fifteen bucks. It’s the kind of meat you might come across at an undersized Paris bistro, which St. Anselm rather resembles, both in looks and in spirit.
The wine list, American and French-oriented, is extensive and fantastic.

More than a steak house, St. Anselm is a Brooklyn restaurant, filled with independence, quiet sophistication, beautifully-executed simplicity, and a touch of quirkiness.

A drink and dish not to miss: 2010 M. Chapoutier Côtes du Roussillon Villages Domaine de Bila-Haut Occultum Lapidem, a potent, plummy red; plus a “butcher’s steak,” the hanger cut lavished with garlic butter.


THE ORDINARY
544 King St.;
Charleston, SC 29403
Cuisine: Seafood

You might be fooled. The Ordinary looks like a raw bar, acts like a raw bar, and pretends to be a raw bar. But what awaits are Mike Lata’s intelligently- conceived and exquisitely-executed seafood creations.

Enter in mid-afternoon and you get fresh local oysters, better local shrimp, and spectacular cold lump crabmeat with bagnarotte sauce, a sort of rémoulade with a French accent.

On a whim, I ordered triggerfish schnitzel with sun chokes and brown-butter vinaigrette. (Triggerfish is obscure, schnitzels are dry, sun chokes are silly, and I may be the only living diner who adores brown butter.) The dish was startling, not merely for the succulence of the breaded and fried fish but also for those sun chokes. They were deliberately overcooked, transformed into little beanbags of soft, creamy flavor.

A drink and dish not to miss: NV Jo Landron Atmosphere, a juicy, eccentric, lip-smacking sparkler, plus barbecued heads-on shrimp immersed in a mostly-Worcestershire sauce.

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