Chefs love springtime. With so much lovely produce coming in -- asparagus, English peas, fiddle head ferns, radishes, morel mushrooms and more -- color returns to plates, lightness returns to dining. Some of my favorite dishes in the last couple of months have been produce-forward; others were delicious turns on American or Asian classics.
This crispy pork belly salad with smoked carrots, baby turnips and cashew ricotta was a lovely winter-into-spring dish at Remedy in March.
A recent visit to CBD Provisions, where Richard Blankenship has recently taken over as executive chef, turned up some delightful surprises, including this wonderful smoked carrot dip with green almonds and dollops of house sour cream. (The green almonds are the slices that look like olives.) The dip is served with house-made seed crackers.
Slices of octopus tiradito make a vibrant starter at Cafe Momentum. They're dressed up with toum (creamy Egyptian-style garlic sauce), olives and aji amarillo.
I also loved this pea shoot salad with house-made ricotta and crispy prosciutto in a lemon vinaigrette at Cafe Momentum.
At Remedy, chef Danyele McPherson knocked it out of the park with her fried house-made bologna sandwich with mayo and sweet onion. It's shown below with a cup of tomato soup.
Cafe Momentum's pork loin dish features apple purée, spinach, braised beans finished with cider and pickled mustard seeds.
Who doesn't love a salmon skin handroll? The one chef Yuki Hirabayashi made recently at Sushi Bayashi using sockeye salmon skin, rather than the skin of farmed salmon, was terrific.
Skewers of baby octopus and charred green onion added up to a tasty little starter at Sushi Bayashi in March.
And in April (still at Sushi Bayashi) chanpon -- ramenlike noodles in a pork broth with seafood -- made a fine lunch.
Mot Hai Ba -- Colleen O'Hare and Jeana Johnson's modern Vietnamese place in East Dallas -- has a new chef, too: Peja Kristic . In early May, he served this delicious barramundi caramel claypot with charred bok choy.
And Mot Hai Ba's silky garlic noodles, a side dish, were crazy-good.
You may know about the terrific barbecue at the Slow Bone, Jack Perkins' place on the edge of the Design District. But if you're a fried chicken fan, you simply must try the Slow Bone's. Chef Jeffery Hobbs, who was opening chef at Sissy's Southern Kitchen and Bar, is now in charge, and this gentleman definitely knows his way around a bird.
I couldn't find the fish balls in a dish called "fresh vegetables with fish balls" at First Chinese BBQ in Richardson -- just some lightly breaded and fried fillets. But the vegetables, in a light, garlicky sauce, were wonderful, and it added up to a delicious dish.
Japanese snapper "head cheese," which was offered recently as a special at Teppo Yakitori-Sushi Bar, was original and outstanding.
Richard Blankenship's house-made rigatoni with English peas, braised Texas lamb and spring garlic at CBD Provisions also impressed at CBD Provisions.
Kabocha squash wich curried lentils, pickled grapes, preserved lemon and herb salad at Cafe Momentum was one of the best vegetarian main courses I've had in some time.
Remedy's cheeseburger has old-fashioned flair, but Danyele McPherson ups the ante with Wagyu beef, house-made dill pickles and a griddled challah bun. A winner!