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9 top dishes of 2011

The best things I ate in Atlanta this year

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Brown stew chicken at Stir It Up
I only ordered this dish when everything else at the restaurant was unavailable, and I'm so happy I did. You know when you roast a chicken, and there's that brown gooey sticky stuff on the bottom of the pan, and if you scrape it off with a spoon and eat it you basically go to schmaltz nirvana? The deep, rich sauce on the huge serving of bone-in chicken tasted like that, but a tad darker, a smidge more comforting. 1083 Euclid Ave. 404-963-2384. www.stiritupatl.com.

Lamb tenderloin appetizer at BLT Steak
Mostly, sauces are used to complement and contrast with a piece of meat. This dish showcased something much more nuanced. The lamb itself was simple and lovely, meltingly tender and rich with flavor. But an espresso cardamom dressing played against everything lamby about the lamb, ramping up those musky, earthy flavors but also enhancing the meat, making the juices seem juicier and brighter. 45 Ivan Allen Jr. Blvd. 404-577-7601. www.e2hospitality.com/blt-steak-atlanta.

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