Although those two dishes were clear front-runners in my book, several other nice items were offered.
I liked Sleepy Hollow Golf Club's fresh crabcake sliders with creamy and spicy chipotle aioli, CAMC Teays Valley's herb-crusted pepperoni roll, Barnyard BBQ's ribs and the pulled pork sliders from Ridgeview BBQ, which won best entree for their smoked ribs last year.
I also still loved The Greenhouse's grilled romaine lettuce with olive oil, bacon bits, walnuts and tomato vinaigrette - last year's winner in the special dish category.
In the people's choice awards, Sleepy Hollow's crabcake sliders (my runner-up) won best entree, and FireSide Grille's bread pudding with maple bourbon sauce won best special dish.
After the Taste of Putnam awards were presented and I was making my way off stage, a pretty cool thing happened. The folks from the new Power UP Grill came up and asked me to critique their food. Like, to their faces.
The woman said they're serious about serving delicious food and wanted to know what I really thought of theirs - good, bad or indifferent. How refreshing.
So I told her exactly what I thought. The chicken teriyaki had nice flavor but was just a tad overcooked. Their grilled steak fajita wrap was cooked to perfect temperature and texture - really nice and juicy - but could have used a touch more seasoning.
Still, their food was in the upper tier of what I tasted. Great day all around.
Contact writer Steven Keith at dailymailfood...@aol.com or 304-348-1721. You can also follow him on Facebook and Pinterest as "DailyMail FoodGuy," on Twitter as "DMFoodGuy" or read his blog at http://blogs.dailymail.com/foodguy.