Hearth's Variety Burger
Earlier this year, Marco Canora reimagined Hearth as a health-conscious restaurant, so you're not going to find a fast food-style burger with American cheese on a refined white bun on his menu. Instead he serves a bun-less organ meat-rich "variety burger" made from chuck and brisket, along with heart and liver. It is pan-seared and served under a blanket of caramelized onions and melted fontina cheese, accompanied by pickles and chunky sweet potato fries. The organ meat adds a considerable minerality to the patty, which exhibits all the positive traits of a well-executed cheeseburger — a crunchy, burnished exterior, and a moist interior brimming with juice. To find out more about how it's made, watch The Meat Show episode dedicated to this burger.
Hearth, 403 E 12th St New York, NY 10009
Augustine's Leg of Lamb "Aux Fin Herbes"
I could have easily picked either of the steaks on the menu at Augustine, Keith McNally’s glowing jewel of a restaurant in the tony Beekman Hotel. Both the NY strip and the porterhouse for two from chefs Shane McBride and Daniel Parilla are utterly superb and instantly rank as two of the top steaks available in NYC right now. But there is something deeply rustic about the rotisserie-cooked leg of lamb that is served in a heap over a pile of flageolet beans and escarole, swimming in a mote of rich lamb jus. The meat has a pleasing chew, with a faint gaminess and sweet finish. The rich jus is spiked with garlic, and the escarole adds a twang that mimics the brightness of mint. For all its rustic charm, there is a surprising complexity in the layering of flavors, although it is admittedly not the most photogenic dish.
Augustine, 5 Beekman Street, New York, New York 10038
Pasquale Jones's Pork Shank for Two
At Mulberry Street hot spot Pasquale Jones, chef Ryan Hardy and chef de cuisine Tim Caspare serve a hefty truncheon of pork that evokes the flavors of Umbria. A three-to-four pound shank is covered in whipped lardo and seasoned with fennel seed, fennel pollen, rosemary, and garlic. It's then slow roasted for up to six hours before being blasted in the restaurant’s wood-burning oven to crisp up the exterior. The shank that emerges from the oven has a flavor that evokes porchetta, but it eats more like a steak. See the entire process in my The Meat Feast column.
Pasquale Jones, 187 Mulberry St, New York, NY 10012
Mr. Donahue’s Roast Beef
Bucking the standard practice of using the the rib cut for roast beef, chefs Matt Danzer and Anne Redding are instead utilizing the strip loin at their quirky Nolita lunch counter, Mr. Donahue’s. While I may prefer the rib for its cap, the truth is that the eye of the rib and the NY strip are fabricated from the same muscle, the longissimus dorsi, so they will taste the same when roasted. Danzer and Redding do about as good a job as anyone could hope for in preparing the dish — the meat is perfectly medium rare from edge to edge, with a delicate texture and a joyously beefy flavor.
Mr. Donahue’s, 203 Mott St, New York, NY 10012
Le Coucou's Tout Le Lapin (All of the Rabbit)
The whole rabbit at Stephen Starr and Daniel Rose's smash hit Le Coucou is really three dishes in one, with each part of the animal being served to its best effect. The saddle is deboned, stuffed with liver, rolled up, steamed, and finally cut into disks and pan-seared. The back legs are marinated in mustard and baked for several hours before they're served under a shroud of onions. And the front legs, breast, and belly are cooked in a broth rife with carrots, onions, garlic, shallots, and parsley stems. The result is a study in contrasts, presented as three distinct dishes.
Le Coucou, 138 Lafayette St, New York, NY 10013
Cut by Wolfgang Puck's Suckling Pig and Pork Belly
My esteemed colleague Ryan Sutton was less than enthused by Wolfgang Puck’s Cut, but I think even he will agree that this dish of suckling pig and pork belly is worthy of praise. Unlike much of the menu, this plate, created by chef Raymond Weber, is unique to NYC. It features whole suckling pig that has been confit-preserved, deboned, chopped, and pressed into neat little cubes, alongside vinegar-braised pork belly chunks, redolent with Sichuan spices, which have also been fabricated into box-shaped pieces. Served with pickled root vegetables, mustard seed, maple-apple puree, and chicharron powder, the bite-sized cubes pack a pig's worth of flavor into each bite.
Cut by Wolfgang Puck, 99 Church St, New York, NY 10007
Porter House Bar & Grill's Wagyu Steak
Michael Lomonaco’s decade-old Porter House recently got a major revamp. Now the menu includes the permanent addition of true Japanese Wagyu beef in the form of a 12 ounce A5 grade NY strip steak from the Miyazaki prefecture. It costs a wallet-busting $185, but at $15.42 per ounce, it is actually a relative bargain for such rare beef — the same beef sells for $25 per ounce elsewhere. Truth be told, the Wagyu is so decadently rich that two to three ounces is more than enough, making this ideal to share in a group. Pan seared to rare (Wagyu fat melts at room temperature, so even at rare, it will render) the steak is imbued with a wonderful golden brown crust that yields to an impossibly supple interior.
Porter House Bar & Grill, 10 Columbus Circle, New York, NY 10019
Aska's 120-Day Dry Aged Ribeye
Given the nature of Fredrik Berselius's tasting menu format at Aska, his four star Williamsburg restaurant, the options change routinely, so you probably won’t get the preparation that I enjoyed at a meal there earlier this year. However, the chef reports that beef will be part of his menus for the foreseeable future as he, quite literally, has a lot of it hanging around — hanging being the British term for dry-aging. Berselius has been experimenting with long aging periods to coax as much flavor and tenderness from the beef as possible. I had a 120-day, dry-aged ribeye that was roasted in a pan while being basted until it reached a perfect medium rare. It came served with reserved black current and salted plum; rendered and cured dry aged beef fat; black currant leaf oil; and juices from the berry and the plum. It was a totally unexpected, yet masterful combination — the heft of the beef and funky notes from the aging were perfectly countered by the acidity and brightness of the various fruit reductions.
Aska, 47 S 5th St, Brooklyn, NY 11249
Westermann's Baeckeoffe at Le Coq Rico
Chef Antoine Westermann’s Flatiron poultry restaurant makes one of the city's best birds. The Brune Landaise served there is a rare breed originating in the Gascony region of France, but it's reared in Pennsylvania to Westermann’s exacting specifications. The birds are free range, they eat a hormone-free diet, and are slaughtered at around 120 days, considerably longer than a commodity chicken. This results in a far more flavorful bird. While most of the poultry is cooked on the rotisserie at Le Coq Rico, the chef’s signature dish — Westermann’s Baeckeoffe — sees the Brune Landaise baked in an earthenware pot with potatoes, artichokes, tomatoes, and a riesling jus. The chicken may not have the crisp skin of other cooking methods, but the depth of flavor from the chicken is unparalleled.
Le Coq Rico, 30 E 20th St, New York, NY 10003
Achilles Heel's Hell Chicken
This Sunday-only poultry feast from chef Lee Desrosiers sees him firing up a custom-made wood-burning grill and applying several cooking techniques to a spatchcocked heritage breed chicken. The birds are smoked, grilled, braised, and grilled once more, leaving them with crisp skin and succulent flesh, perfumed by the smoke and seasoned simply with salt.
Achilles Heel, 180 West St, Brooklyn, NY 11222.