Steak tartare is becoming a primary vehicle for showcasing a restaurant’s ground meat, with an increasing number of new bistros serving the dish. In a traditional recipe, steak of scintillating freshness is coarsely chopped, then tossed with such ingredients as capers, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, and sometimes the eggs of small birds.
The result is much richer than the equivalent hamburger patty and much fresher tasting, with notes of minerality. The dish often comes with toasts, cornichons, and sometimes lettuces. Here are some of our favorite versions of steak tartare.
Chez Ma Tante
This Canadian-themed Greenpoint restaurant helmed by chefs whose resume includes Altro Paradiso and M. Wells makes a chunky tartare. Served with grilled toasts and a dab of aioli, inviting you to make an open-face sandwich, the appetizer ($16) comes flavored with mustard seeds and a squirt of fish sauce. The parsnip chips on top are too frail to use as scoops, but deliver a nice crunch nonetheless. 90 Calyer Street, Brooklyn, 718- 389-3606
A Chinese noodle shop is not necessarily the first place you’d look for a good steak tartare, but Little Tong proves otherwise. The chunky raw beef is interspersed with crunchy carrot, and accompaniments include a schmear of Sichuan butter and a flaky flatbread more like an Indonesian roti than a Chinese scallion pancake. The combo works. 177 1st Avenue, 929-367-8664
Circa Brewing Co.
This downtown Brooklyn brew pub innovates on the usual recipe in an ambitious version with a green egg yolk mousse — rife with capers, shallots, and chives under the wad of chopped beef. The sauce is an updated gribiche and the homemade potato chips on the side are wonderful. 141 Lawrence Street, Brooklyn, 718-858-0055
Lebanese restaurants such as this Bay Ridge stalwart serve a raw-beef dish called kibbe nayeh, which is meat chopped with pine nuts, sometimes served with garlic sauce. But this place offers three compelling variations on raw beef, including habra nayeh, which is raw steak simply smashed into a paste, garnished with mint. It’s an arresting form of steak tartare, perfect for pitas. 8221 5th Avenue, Brooklyn, 718-833-7255
Blue Ribbon Federal Grill
Located in a luxury residential hotel, Blue Ribbon Federal Grill offers a sophisticated menu of drinking snacks. Included in that roster is a tartare made with venison, not beef. Though farm-raised, it’s decidedly woodsy and the dab of chestnut paste helps the flavor along. AKA Hotel, 84 William Street, 212-337-0404
This French butcher shop cum brasserie offers the freshest tartare imaginable, with the traditional trappings. These include mustard, capers, toasts, and a small salad, with a quail egg shell containing only the yolk. Mix it in or pour it on top. Presentation in a layer rather than a wad also enhances the flavor of this version — proving oxygen always goes well with hemoglobin. 99 7th Avenue South, 212-837-1616
The take on raw beef at this Israeli transplant — called Palestinian tartare — is a fanciful one, the creation of a landscape on a plate rather than the following of traditional strictures. Thus are little wads of chopped steak interspersed with fresh raw peas, smoked eggplant cream, green chiles, tahini, pine nuts, etc., etc. The effect is stunning, making every bite an adventure. 34 East 20th Street, 212-505-3420
This offshoot of Cosme serves one of the city’s most interesting versions of steak tartare, which comes in a fresh, lightly cooked poblano chile mired in a puddle of thick salsa verde. The effect is scrumptious, and the meat itself — which comes in very precise cubes, rather than coarsely chopped — is lightly herbed, a real treat for steak lovers. 372 Lafayette Street, no phone