Monday, November 22, 2010

Obtaining My Weekly Meat Injection at Minetta Tavern

A few weeks ago, my meat intake had reached a critical mass. I'd overloaded on Brooklyn deli fare, burgers and other meat-centric foods too numerous to name (I'll stop there, since any itemized list of such intake is bound to make me depressed). In short, I needed a break from these meaty gastronomic pleasures.

Knowing that Steve and I would soon stuff ourselves like kings (or Keith McNally) at Minetta Tavern, I vowed to not eat meat from that Monday until our meal the following Saturday night.

I mostly succeeded.

Living around West Indians, many of whom consider vegan eating to be a way of life, certainly helped-- as did frequent trips to Sahadi's on Atlantic Avenue for a satisfying mix of salads, pita and hummus. And I would also be negligent not to mention how key peanut butter & jelly sandwiches were that week. Sure, I guess I must confess to inadvertently eating a stray chicken nugget while drunk the night before my big dinner-- but other than that (and by my standards), Noah's Mostly Vegetarian Week of 2010 was an utter success.

...A success that was almost completely undone by our meal at Minetta Tavern.

Such a dinner would require strong cocktails to keep us eating. This requirement proved dangerously easy to satisfy. Since riff-raff like us can't get a table at Minetta Tavern during prime hours, we were "forced" to sit at the bar. Yet, Enzo, our bartender, proved to be as good a waiter as a cocktail maker, and in that spirit, Steve and I started our meal with a Maple Leaf Sazerac apiece.

What's a good way to reintroduce yourself to the glories of meat? How about with an oxtail and foie gras terrine strewn with sharp pickled leeks to cut the fat? Yeah, that'll do nicely.

The terrine disappeared quickly, and soon the Black Label Burger arrived. I feel like I'm the last (semi) self-respecting food blogger to try it (just pretend I'm writing this post in 2009). We split the burger (ordered medium rare) and asked for the onions on the side. As you can see, this request was disregarded, but it worked out fine-- the caramelized onions rounded out the extra funky, dry-aged flavor of the beef with a touch of sweetness and acidity. The beef itself tasted almost like a blue cheese and had a unique crumbly texture, evidencing that it hadn't been overworked. A compelling burger, but ultimately not something I'm willing to pay for on a regular basis (the $45 white truffle burger at Burger & Barrel now tempts me similarly).

Our burger finished, the table (I guess I mean bartop...) was cleared in preparation for our cote de boeuf, which was momentarily dangled in front of our faces before being sent back for slicing. The scent of sizzling dry-aged beef hung in the room long after the plate had been whisked away.

To steel ourselves before the approaching beef torrent, we ordered another round of cocktails. Ginger in the Rye for Steve (rye, absinthe, ginger beer and lime juice), and a Rye Old Fashioned for myself (a superior rendition).

The steak, cooked to a perfect medium rare, was excellent, with a deep mineral flavor that provoked aged meat comparisons to the separately sourced Black Label blend. Oh, and it comes with bone marrow. Here's some vaguely pornographic pictures of me scooping up marrow.

My love of bone marrow is well documented. Served with a shallot confit and the requisite toast, it did not disappoint. Real eaters spread the marrow on toast, topping it with a slice of steak (and maybe some shallot confit).

I guess we should eat some greenery (and the beef does comes with a side salad). The salads were good, but neither of us finished them. Our real challenge was to eat that whole steak. Like my attempt at vegetarianism, we mostly succeeded. All that remained were a couple of pieces of pure dry-aged fat along with the meaty remnants of the bone. Gnawing barbarically on the bone, I openly debated taking it home with me to snack on later that night, but Steve and Enzo shamed me out of it.

I should have gone with my gut.

After relinquishing the bone, my gut instructed me to order a final round (Steve's gut agreed). A Dodd Cocktail for Steve (bourbon, absinthe, peach bitters, lemon and egg whites), and a Murray Sour for me (whiskey, cardamom infused agave nectar, lemon and orange).

Looking at the dessert menu, I threw out a few options, but it was clear that Steve would settle for nothing less than coconut cream cake. Continuing our run of culinary domination, we quickly finished the cake.

That above-mentioned feeling of success, as well as the residual high from copious amounts of aged meat warmed our bellies as we paid our check and left. Truly a stellar meal worthy of my temporary meat abstinence.

Minetta Tavern
113 Macdougal Street
NY, NY 10012

Minetta Tavern on Urbanspoon


  1. That is one epic dinner! I still have not tried the black label burger and need to get on that asap. I'd have the bone marrow as an appetizer, of course. You absolutely must try Blue Ribbon's bone marrow with oxtail marmalade (if you haven't already). Despite eating it at 3am, I can definitively say that it's a life changer.

    On a side note, there's a white truffle burger?! $45 is a bit steep but it's a great excuse to try Burger & Barrel. Now, if only I can find someone to split it with me...

  2. Helen, totally agree about Blue Ribbon's bone marrow dish, though I'd prefer different bread, from a pure marrow standpoint I feel its my favorite version in the city.

    Noah will agree, but as good as the Black Label burger is, the bruger at the Brindle Room (Lunch and Brunch only) is just as good, and half the price!

    Haven't tried the white truffle burger yet. I believe they only serve it during truffle season, so I'll have to wait until next year. But I think one of the most expensive burgers in the city is still the Burger Royale at DB Bistro $175 with Black Truffles!