MEAT ME IN NEW YORK
GUEST COLUMNIST RICK JAIME-BETTAN TAKES A LOOK AT THE LATEST CARNIVOROUS TRENDS FROM HIS HOMETOWN
I’m over the old-fashioned steak house. Even legendary favourites like Peter Luger’s in Brooklyn – a destination for diners worldwide – bore me. Anyone with a decently tender porterhouse can grill it, drown it in butter and serve it on a heated plate with standard sides. And the clubby atmosphere – banker bros in blue button-downs, expense accounts, rich guys in cheesy suits showing off Rolexes to their face-lifted fiancées – makes me shudder.
So what’s a carnivore to do? Fortunately, here in New York, trends are my friends. I’m thankful that the practice of sourcing grass-fed meat from local, sustainable farms seems here to stay. It’s better for the animals, and means more flavourful meat for me.
But beyond that, my favourite newly popular idea is the butcher shop-cumrestaurant, where butchers daily cleave whole animals in full view of patrons. This set-up is like mindfulness meditation for the conscious diner: it forces one to respect the sacrifice the animal has made for the sake of nutrition and enjoyment. The nose-totail emphasis also yields less waste, and guarantees more interesting cuts than you’d get at your average steak house. This trend is exemplified by White Gold Butchers, a buzzy locale from renowned April Bloomfield, celebrated chef of the West Village’s iconic Spotted Pig. The open butcher shop boasts over 80 different cuts of beef, pork, lamb and poultry, and the restaurant turns out delectable dishes like black-pepper chicken hearts with spicy mayonnaise, and lamb belly brightened by pea shoots and pumpkin purée. This exciting eating is a far cry from your basic New York strip steak.
Some brave chefs are even incorporating meat into dessert. The addition of bone marrow to crème brûlée makes an already rich and decadent dessert even deeper, almost primal. I can thank Angie Mar, the April Bloomfield protégé who recently reopened and revamped The Beatrice Inn, for this stunning revelation.
Going a step further, chefs are eschewing old norms and getting creative with their chopping blocks. A good example of both the locavore ethos and the hunger for new and interesting cuts of meat is Jacob Hadjigeorgis’s Maison Pickle, sister restaurant to his perennially popular Jacob’s Pickles and Beer. Aside from their signature French Dip sandwiches, Maison Pickle serves a decadent half pig’s head confit, featuring silky, fatty inner meat contrasting with crackling skin, all served with coconut rice, kimchi, Bibb lettuce, beet sambal, tikka masala and hot mayo.
Leave the standard filet mignon to the less adventurous. Rick Jaime-bettan is a commercial litigator at a New York law firm by day; most evenings and holidays he’s eating out, either in his hometown or somewhere adventurous around the globe.