Kids all seem to hate the same foods, from liver to broccoli to Brussels sprouts—and lots of people carry those aversions right into adulthood. That's a shame, because so many of the ingredients we used to hide under the mashed potates when we were kids are actually the most flavorful, delicious foods—at least when they're done right. Here, 8 classic childhood rejects that are being brilliantly prepared by talented chefs. Try these and we're willing to bet you'll be going back for seconds.
Liver and Onions
Even the most liver-and-onion-averse will find a place in their hearts for the incredible version of the dish at Marin Restaurant & Bar in Minneapolis’s Meridien Chambers Hotel. Super-rich, tender chicken livers and pickled red onions get layered on top of grilled toast with whole grain mustard, for a creamy, tangy, irresistible bite that will leave you wondering why you ever turned your nose up at this classic combo.
Turn a dreadful childhood memory into a heavenly experience with the stuffed cabbage dish at Chicago’s Ada Street. Fresh cabbage leaves are stuffed with goat and bison meat, rolled up, slathered in spicy tomato sauce and cooked; a dollop of crème fraiche on top completes this alluring, elegant version of a dish that will never again make you want to hide under the sofa.
If you’ve never had Brussels sprouts on your pizza, it's time to start. Celebs including Kathy Griffin, Anderson Cooper and Rachael Ray have hit up the Philadelphia Mediterranean spot Barbuzzo for its standout dishes, like the wood-oven-cooked uovo pie. White sauce, Parmesan, fior di latte mozzarella cheese, guanciale (Italian cured meat) and a truffled farm egg are topped with a smattering of fresh Brussels sprouts for a decadent slice that packs a punch and happens to look gorgeous too. Photo by Jason Varney.
You may have liked meatloaf when you were a kid, but for the legions among us who did not, Jimmy’s in Aspen is here to clue us into how this mainstay is really supposed to taste. The grownup version at the casual restaurant and bar is nice and tender and has a perfect crust; its layers of flavor come from both ground beef and buffalo meat, along with a bold mix of spices including cumin, nutmeg, cayenne and chili sauce. The meatloaf comes with sides of seasonal veggies and mashed potatoes, perfect for mixing on your fork for the ultimate comfort-food bite.
Cauliflower is a hard sell for kids, but it's definitely having a major trend moment for the grownup set. The cruciferous vegetable really shines when it's roasted and sauteed to bring out its nutty, caramelized flavor. One version to try is the roasted cauliflower at Bar Toma in Chicago. A whole head of cauliflower is roasted in a wood-fired oven and served with an oh-so-good whipped goat cheese dip.
Beet salads have been a fixture on trendy menus for ages, but Restaurant 1833 in Monterey, California ups the ante with its rendition. Beets (which kids tend to hate, for some reason, even though they're so sweet and so bright-red) join housemade ricotta cheese, grapefruit segments, and a blueberry pumpernickel streusel for an indulgent, creamy-tangy salad that will disappear off the plate immediately.
Despite its name, broccoli rabe has no relationship to broccoli; its nearest relative is the turnip. But what broccoli rabe does have in common with broccoli (and also with turnips) is that kids usually want no part of any of those vegetables. Broccoli rabe, with its earthy, slightly bitter taste, is best left to the adults in the room who can appreciate a brilliant sandwich like the one at High Street on Market in Philadelphia. The casual joint showcases the vibrant veggie in an open-face sandwich made with freshly baked bread, tender roast pork and flavorful fermented broccoli rabe.
Say the word anchovy and most kids (and many adults) will squirm. But Cherche Midi in New York City ingeniously slips the tiny fish into a killer pot de fromage, giving any skeptics among us a reason to heart anchovies. The Parmesan custard, served with radish slices for a peppery kick, arrives with toasted bread for spreading, and a lusciously creamy, salty anchovy-spiked butter.
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