Photo by J.B. Forbes, St. Louis Post-Dispatch



My only frustration with Cleveland-Heath is one I suspect most chefs would be happy to provoke. I’ve enjoyed so many terrific dishes at Jennifer Cleveland and Eric (Ed) Heath’s Edwardsville restaurant, dishes I’d call iconic — except that, by the time I return, the menu has moved on to the next great thing. (A short list of dishes I’d love to eat again one day: a more-than-credible take on pho; seared beef tongue over spaetzle with horseradish crème fraiche; foie gras with flapjacks, candied pecans and maple syrup.) Recent inventions I’m sure to be mourning soon include a take on the trendiest dish around, Nashville hot chicken. Heath uses pork belly instead — its fat-smooched flavor better stands up to the intense chile heat than chicken’s does — but the truly distinctive element is the cooling Wonder Bread puree that surrounds the pork. A few dishes are constants, though, and with good reason, including the pork porterhouse with a sunny-side-up egg and jalapeño-cheddar cornbread and the must-order side dish of deep-fried Brussels sprouts.

Last year's ranking: 5

Opened: 2011

Must order: Pork porterhouse ($24)