This week I'm counting down my ten favorite dishes of 2007 -- and the absolute worst thing I ate all year.
#2. Pork at Niche
Pork cheeks are served as a cake (as in a crab cake), letting the cheeks' fat soften the deeply flavored meat. For an even more indulgent version of this effect, try the pork belly entrée. The sinfully fatty meat -- you know it in its cured form: bacon -- is braised overnight for ten hours and then served over baby Brussels sprouts and chopped apple in a cider jus. The amount of fat on the dish might strike you as overwhelming, but it acts as a second sauce, seeming to melt over the meat as you chew. The crisp apple and the sharp, but not at all bitter, Brussels sprouts provide the ideal counterpoint to all this richness.
It's safe to say that if you remove barbecue from consideration, Niche is now the mecca for pork lovers in St. Louis. Excellent house-made pappardelle with mascarpone, lemon, pear and parsley is taken to a nearly ethereal level by the addition of smoked pork shank.
-- "Fat City, Baby!" (December 20, 2007)
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