Brodo, the animal broth take-away concept launched by Hearth chef Marco Canora in one of the restaurant's unused pastry door/windows, has been nourishing New Yorkers with a hot winter beverage they never knew they wanted. It's so popular that, seven weeks in, Canora was forced to order a second stove to keep up with the demand. But, why are people dropping $4 to $9 (not including add-ins) for a hot cup of meat-flavored water? Eater went to check it out.
Apparently the elixir Canora is serving in paper coffee cups isn't just stock. Or, broth ("brodo" in Italian). It's magical, says Canora. There's a difference between Brodo's "bone broth" (isn't all animal broth made from bones?), and regular stock. Bone broth, an essential food in the Paleo world, is made from bones that are usually roasted and then boiled for 24 hours or longer (far longer than the bones in a regular stock). The long, slow cook helps break the bones down and release nutrients and minerals that are easy for the body to absorb like collagen, gelatin, and glucosamine.
And this is some powerful stuff, according to Canora. The chef told Vice that he was "an insane chef until [he] started drinking broth." He waxes poetic about the over-indulgent chef lifestyle fueled by caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol that left him feeling sick. He visited a nutritionist, realized he was in bad shape, and started drinking bone broth regularly. And it's this bone broth that he credits with helping him get back on a healthy track.
Brodo sells three sizes of broth: 8 oz., 12 oz., 16 oz. in flavors like organic chicken (made with Pennsylvania Amish organic chicken), gingered grass-fed beef, and Hearth broth, which is a mix of chicken, turkey, and beef. And then there's the matter of 75-cent add-ins, that bone broth drinkers can choose from: ginger juice, Calabrian chili oil, shiitake mushroom tea, freshly grated turmeric, grass-fed bone marrow, beet kvass (fermented beet juice), and organic garlic. Canora says that all the extras work in all the broths, but for those who need some pre-determined cheffy options, he recommends shiitake or beet in the chicken broth, bone marrow in the beef, and roasted garlic and chili in the Hearth broth.
All three broths are subtly imbued with sweet meaty flavor, the most pronounced of which and most complexly flavored was the Hearth broth. The best out of the three.
The chicken broth was as good as any grandmother would make, but on the more subtle side flavor-wise. And the beef broth was also delicately accented with a pure, soft beefy flavor. Note, these are not salty broths usually served at restaurants, and they benefit from those ad-ins. But, some of the extras, like the beet in the gingered beef broth was a little bit too reminiscent of a popular liver cleanse juice — this was a bit off putting, after all, this is animal broth, not juice.
The shiitake tea is a strong move that fares especially well in the Hearth broth, bumping up the umami factor. Though small yellow-orange shaves of fresh turmeric are discernible in the broths, the flavor was lost at sea.
But, questions remain: Does Brodo have staying power? And what happens in the summer when the city heats up again? Brodo smoothies?