Chilled Corn Bisque at GT Fish & Oyster ($11)
If sweet corn has a flaw, it's that the skin of the kernels straight off the cob tend to get stuck in your teeth. Some eaters have sworn off the stuff purely for this reason. (Crazy, I know.) But at GT, you can enjoy the bright, sweet flavor of corn without having to reach for a toothpick afterward. Its chilled corn bisque is an airy, paprika-laced soup that presents corn two ways: both as a silky, creamy puree and in the form of crunchy freeze-dried corn kernels—the skin of which dissolves like astronaut ice cream—incorporated into the soup's colorful garnish. Along with the bits of crunchy corn, there are chunks of fresh lobster and diced tomatoes, lending each bite juiciness and textural complexity.
Kentucky Fried Quail, Foie Gras Enriched Corn Bread, Country Gravy at Longman & Eagle
I like cornbread. A lot. It's flaky, it's sweet, it's savory, it's delicious. And when you add, say, a little foie gras to said cornbread, chances are very good I'm going to like it even more. That's what's up with Longman & Eagle's Kentucky fried quail with foie gras "enriched" cornbread. The latter acts as a downy, carb-and-fat-stuffed pillow, giving the well-battered quail legs an elevated perch. The dish is at once comforting and, thanks to the touch of foie, just a bit classy.
Elote Mexicano at Mercadito ($6)
In the midwest, we certainly know how to enjoy corn on the cob, so this offering from Mercadito is an easy sell. Sprinkled with cheese and chile powder, this elote is also more flavorful than and dynamic.
Raw Corn Salad at Purple Pig ($9)
This seasonal addition to the menu combines the sun-ripened sweetness of fresh uncooked corn off the cob with the nip of sliced scallions, juicy grape tomatoes, and the salty, nutty, peppery flavors of arugula pesto. Finished with a delicate spice blend, this salad captures big, farm-fresh summer flavors, but isn't afraid to make them work for your attention.
Sweet Corn Kakiage at Sushi Samba Rio ($11)
Unlike more commonly seen forms of tempura in which one whole or large slice of a vegetable is deep-fired, kakiage can be a single, sprawling latticework of mixed veg—typically employing whatever's available. Think of it as clean-out-the-crisper tempura. But Sushi Samba has found an inspired application of the style, using boldly sweet corn as the base, then topping the flat, fried congregations with togarashi, black truffle aioli, and sea salt.
Corn Cakes at Wishbone ($7.95)
Ah, the late breakfast. It's not brunch; it's simply breakfast, but eaten later in the day. Plus, it leaves the door open for a late lunch. Brunch has nothing on that. Wishbone gets it, serving up many of its Southern-style breakfast items until the mid-afternoon. Its signature corn cakes are one such dish. A short stack of fluffy corn meal pancakes—studded with sweet corn kernels and chopped scallions—come with two eggs prepared however you like. In lieu of melting butter pats, a side of roasted sweet red pepper sauce. Don't worry, it's buttery.
Wood-Roasted Chicken Pozole at Xoco ($11.50)
If regular chicken soup soothes the soul, then this bowl gives it a hot stone massage. That's thanks to the mesmerizingly complex dollop of garnishes that crown this heady mix of savory broth, juicy chicken shredded cabbage, juicy chicken, and plump white corn. The scoop includes ground red chile, micro-diced onion, and a fiery spice blend that betrays hints of smoke and minerality. The marble-sized pozole corn, simmered until they've cracked, is a tasty reminder of corn's incredible yet threatened diversity.
Mushroom Sauté Over Creamy Polenta at Mana Food Bar ($8.25/$15.50)
Polenta is tricky. There needs to be balance between all its attributes, from texture to weight to moisture content to seasoning. Mana knows this, and gets it right every time with this perennial favorite. Its polenta arrives warm, supple, creamy, well-salted, and with a subtly grainy finish that pleases the palate. Oh, and the mushrooms ain't bad, either: Leave it to a vegetarian restaurant to demonstrate this kind of command over fungus, highlighting all its earthy, smoky potential.