Hard to believe that the year is halfway over (eek), but so far it's at least been a good one as far as new dishes are concerned. Here then is our midway recap of the best new plates we've tried so far in 2015; we can't wait to see what the second part of the year has in store. (What have been your highlights so far? Let us know in the comments!)
Blackberry lavender donuts at Blackbird Doughnuts
When it opened at the beginning of the year, Blackbird came soaring out of its South End nest with an awesome array of sweet and savory treats — and the rotating selection is always introducing us to some funky new flavor or another. But the blackberry lavender ($3), a menu mainstay, might be our favorite. There's something about that combo of sweet berry with a hint of floral aroma that is not only delicious, but delightfully deceitful; close your eyes, and you might forget you're eating something sinfully deep-fried.
492 Tremont St.; 617-482-9000
Maui Burger at BRED Gourmet
At the tail end of winter came this Dorchester burger joint with a healthier-than-expected angle: the menu includes an assortment of yogurt-based smoothies, kale drinks and salads. It's great to have some light, fresh options — and more importantly, they'll bait our more health-conscious friends to accompany us for a run for the real attraction, the burgers. From our personal favorite, the Maui (pictured; $9.29) with grilled pineapple and plantains, to other inventively topped patties of beef, venison, turkey, salmon and more, BRED birthed a strong new draw for burger lovers.
2255 Dorchester Ave.; 617-698-0103
Terrine board at Townsman
Chef Matt Jennings notched three consecutive wins in the local stops of Cochon 555, the city-hopping nose-to-tail culinary series, and he built a reputation for charcuterie and meaty whatnots at his former Providence restaurant Farmstead Inc. So it's no surprise that among the (many) standouts at his Boston newcomer, Townsman, are the gorgeous charcuterie boards, rotating duo of country hams and, most indulgent of all, house terrine board ($35) with oft-changing selections.
120 Kingston St.; 617-993-0750
Ceviche at SELECT Oyster Bar
30 Under 30 honoree Michael Serpa has a number of hot winners at his new Back Bay hot spot, SELECT (including an exceptionally flavorful billi bi mussel soup). But the selection of raw and chilled fruits de mer might best spotlight the commitment to quality; particular favorites like the scallop ceviche ($16) treated with a citrus marinade of lime, shallot and cilantro, are dressed to complement and call attention to product, rather than obfuscate it.
57 Gloucester St.; 857-239-8064
Charcoal-grilled street corn at Loco Taqueria & Oyster Bar
Sure the tacos and raw bar might be the main attractions at this Southie newcomer, but we're kind of obsessed with the charcoal-grilled street corn ($11), a steaming trio of small cobs that are absolutely slathered with an intensely flavorful combo of red pepper butter and ash salsa, then sprinkled with cotija cheese. Loco's strong suit is its robust sauces, and this awesome small plate plays that to the hilt.
412 W. Broadway, South Boston; 617-917-5626
Oven-roasted meatballs at Brewer's Fork
Though the wood-fired grill at Charlestown's brew- and pizza-focused newcomer turns out some pretty impressive pies, the small-plates menu has a number of standouts — including some of the best meatballs ($12) we've had in recent memory. These combine beef, pork and salami ends with bread soaked in milk and yogurt for a tangy, creamy quality. Designed for maximum tenderness, they're served in a hot skillet with tomato sauce and melted sheep's-milk cheese.
7 Moulton St., Charlestown; 617-337-5703
Tacos at Naco Taco
Alden & Harlow's hot toque Michael Scelfo has dipped out of this Central Square taqueria only a month after its opening, the "consulting chef" handing the reigns fully to A&H alums Amanda Howell and Robert Preciado last week, according to Boston Magazine. Here's hoping that they keep up with what Scelfo started, because the tacos ($4) he devised, stuffed with everything from spit-roasted pork to fried smelts, have been worth the waits.
297 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge; 617-945-1548