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Vegetarian becoming a carnivore -- What to eat?

I've been a vegetarian for 20 years. But, before I settle into that for the rest of my life, I want to find out what I've been missing.

So last night, I started eating meat again -- temporarily. I want to try out the best meat-based dishes around, and then -- mostly likely -- go back to being a vegetarian.

Since last night, I've had:

- Momofuku Ssam: uni; pork buns
- Bar Room at The Modern: Lamb and goat cheese terrine; Tripe(!)

I'm not squeamish, so I'll eat anything from the highbrow stuff to offal. But, I'm planning to avoid factory farmed animals as much as possible.

On my "to do" list so far:

- The duck at EMP
- Sushi (medium quality and high quality)
- Black Label burger at Minetta Tavern
- Steak at Keen's. Which one?
- What else?

I'm open to all suggestions. Please let me know your favorite meat-based dishes in Manhattan.

Momofuku Ssam Bar
207 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10003

Minetta Tavern
113 MacDougal St, New York, NY 10012

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  1. This is an awesome query. These are my go to meats, not necessarily the rarest, but the always pleasing, these-are-why-I-wouldn't-give-up-eating-animals dishes. They are also in a multiple-meal friendly price range.

    Bacon, Hash, and the Burger at The Spotted Pig- keep the cheese on, the roquefort makes it
    Rice Cakes w/ pork sausage, Hamachi, and The Soft Shell Crab at Ssam
    Brussel Sprout and Pancetta pizza at Motorino
    The Prosciutto pizza at Co.
    Roasted Chicken at Locanda Verde
    Ribs at Fatty 'Cue, Ribs at Virgils, Ribs at Momo midtown (I like ribs...)
    Sausage and Escarole pasta at Otto
    A dozen oysters at Grand Central Oyster Bar- get a gimlet or a dry martini too!

    Happy Eating!!

    Grand Central Oyster Bar
    89 E 42nd St, New York, NY 10017

    Spotted Pig
    314 W 11th St, New York, NY 10014

    Locanda Verde
    377 Greenwich St, New York, NY 10013

    349 E 12th St, New York, NY 10003

    1. For seafood, Le Bernardin is an absolute must. Don't miss the fusilli with red wine braised octopus and bone marrow at Marea. The maccheroni alla chitarra with sea urchin and crabmeat at Esca is good too.

      For higher-end sushi, before gutsofsteel can enter this thread with his anti-Yasuda crusade, I'll suggest Sushi Yasuda or 15 East, but make sure to sit at the sushi bar and not at a table. Kurumazushi is a possibility, but it's even pricier.

      As for Keens, I'd get the mutton chop and if you want steak, the porterhouse.

      Perhaps the maialino al forno at Maialino? I don't see pork on your list yet. You could also further explore Momofuku Ssäm Bar's menu, as you've only scratched the surface there.

      15 East
      15 East 15th Street, New York, NY 10003

      Sushi Yasuda
      204 E 43rd St, New York, NY 10017

      Le Bernardin
      155 W. 51st St., New York, NY 10019

      402 West 43rd Street, New York, NY 10036

      240 Central Park South, New York, NY 10019

      2 Lexington Avenue, New York, NY 10010

      1. Thanks for the suggestions. Keep 'em coming!

        Since I posted, I've had:

        - sushi and sashimi combo at Sushi Seki
        - Grilled meat platter at Les Halles (I know, I know)

        Everything was decent, but I haven't had anything yet that's really made me say, "Wow." I'm really looking for that kind of experience.

        Les Halles
        15 John Street, New York, NY 10038

        4 Replies
        1. re: thousandrobots

          Alright- get yourself to The Spotted Pig for that burger- medium rare, and be prepared to never go off red meat. But, not food tastes great after a long wait, so go as early into the dinner service as you can.

          Spotted Pig
          314 W 11th St, New York, NY 10014

          1. re: UnderemployedInNYC

            If you have the time, get the SP burger during the day -- they offer it both on the lunch/brunch menu as well as the bar menu (in between lunch and dinner).

            1. re: gutsofsteel

              Just went to Keen's with my Dad for the first time for both of us to celebrate father's day. The mutton chop was awesome, as were the more manageably sized 3 lamb chops (for those who don't already know, the mutton chop is also lamb, its just a bit older). Porterhouse for 2 was perfect. Seriously gave every steak I've had in Manhattan a run for its money. This is proper steak and lamb at a proper steak house.


          2. When a formerly vegan friend began eating meat again, he jumped straight into soup dumplings and Shake Shack's Shack Burgers and BBQ (pork ribs)!

            What about:
            - a flight of oysters at Aquagrill or a seafood tower at Blue Ribbon or Balthazar with oysters, clams, shrimp, lobster
            - lobster roll at Luke's Lobster
            - bacon wrapped dates at Freemans
            - Cookshop's house-made, double-smoked, Berkshire pork bacon -- NOT the kind you order as a side, I think it only comes as part of the skillet eggs at brunch
            - Bacon wrapped, deep fried hot dogs at Crif Dogs
            - Fried chicken and waffles at Amy Ruth's or how about just regular old fried chicken at Redhead though I do think Pies 'n' Thighs in Brooklyn might be better -- can't hurt to try them all?
            - Fideos with clams at Casa Mono, followed by Sweetbreads, Duck Egg with Mojama, and the Foie Gras with Cinco Cebollas
            - Seared foie gras at Bar Room at the Modern
            - Pork croquettas at El Quinto Pino, follow by their uni panini
            - Grilled octopus at Pylos or Babbo
            - Charcuterie board at Bar Boulud
            - Lamb's tongue & egg salad, pig's foot “Milanese," goose liver ravioli, and the fennel dusted sweetbreads at Babbo
            - A few slices of jamon iberico at Despana
            - Roasted bone marrow at Prune or Blue Ribbon Brasserie

            Have you seen either Food Porn 2 episode of No Reservations? Lots of NYC joints in that episode and lots of meat dishes.

            Shake Shack
            Madison Ave and E 23rd St, New York, NY 10010

            1 Reply
            1. re: kathryn

              This sounds great, Kathryn. Exactly what I was looking for!

              I will try at least one of these this week.

            2. ExFlexitarian, where you at?

              when I went back to meat, the first thing I had was a steak sandwich at the now-closed Joe Jr's on Sixth Avenue. Spur-of-the-moment decision and, haven't looked back. can't think of any particularly amazing meat stuff but I would probably go ethnic and get a good goat or oxtail curry/stew; caribbean or possibly african; can't think of a specific manhattan rec right now but, ya, something along those lines.

              1. When I started eating meat again my first stop was DB bistro for their original DB burger

                Banh Mi Saigon Bakery for a number one (oh and p.s they are still on mott st but moving to Grand next month)
                Crif Dogs bacon wrapped hot dog
                La Esquina assorted tacos from the window
                Sakagura Japanese style tapas
                Great NY Noodle Town roast pork
                Kanoyama for sashimi Japanese toro and uni. Make sure you get the king crab roll
                Chicken and rice from the cart 53rd and 6th
                Ippudo pork buns and ramen
                Prosperity Dumpling pork and chive dumpling
                Keens Mutton Chop
                Foie Gras at Eleven Madison Park who am I kidding just do the tasting

                Eleven Madison Park
                11 Madison Ave., New York, NY 10010

                Banh Mi Saigon
                198 Grand St, New York, NY 10013

                211 East 43rd Street, New York, NY 10017

                La Esquina
                106 Kenmare St, New York, NY 10012

                175 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10003

                Prosperity Dumpling
                46 Eldridge St, New York, NY 10002

                Crif Dogs
                113 St Marks Pl, New York, NY 10009

                65 4th Ave, New York, NY 10003

                1. I am going through something very similar! I am specifically looking for great burgers after 20 years without eating meat and I'm interested to hear where you end up eating. Minetta is on my list as well. I am blogging about the process too: http://meatmehalfway.com/

                  Good luck!

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: apusgarden

                    i just checked yr blog...cute pics by the way.

                    prune's burger is awesome and minetta's is an instant classic.

                  2. um, isnt recommending the most heavy meat items a bad idea to someone with a digestive system thats not prepared for something like this?

                    im a big fan of the black label burger, keens mutton chop, and uni everything but id suggest something a bit less heavy for someone entering the world of meat.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: sam1

                      Original poster here. It depends on the digestive system in question, I guess -- I dove right in and haven't had any trouble.

                      I had the mutton chop a couple weeks ago at Keens and really enjoyed it. Black Label Burger is coming up this week.

                      I will post a more detailed summary when I wrap up the experiment in a few weeks, but so far, the best things I've had are the burger at Blue Smoke and the chicken (fried and otherwise) at The Redhead.

                      My next area of focus is seafood: Yasuda, Marea and/or Le Bernardin are on the agenda (when I can afford). Then, the grand finale at EMP, and it'll be back to rabbit food, I predict.

                      Le Bernardin
                      155 W. 51st St., New York, NY 10019

                      Blue Smoke
                      116 East 27th Street, New York, NY 10016

                      240 Central Park South, New York, NY 10019

                    2. Are you ok with preparing meat? IMHO, the best steak in the city isn't available at a restaurant, but at Lobel's butcher shop (82nd/Madison).

                      1. Lobel's, (and Ottomanelli, for that matter) provide wonderful steaks that frankly are hard to foul up. You can make these steaks on a grill (optimal) or even in a buttered frying pan for that matter.

                        Nobody's mentioned that you ought to have the (fatty) brisket and (lean) Pastrami at Katz's deli.

                        Go to Schaller & Weber for German meat-rich delights -- they're in Yorkville.

                        If you'd like to return to seafood (I'm a Buddhist and my priest constantly implores me to try not eating "things with four little feet") then of course you can visit Citarella for some of the finest seafood in town.

                        I wish you luck. Eat as you like; life's too short not to live it with passion every waking moment...

                        1313 3rd Ave, New York, NY 10021

                        Schaller & Weber
                        1654 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10028

                        Ottomanelli's Cafe
                        1626 York Ave, New York, NY 10028