Offally good meal at Commerce
Walking through the West Village last night, randomly ended up at Commerce and hit the organ meat jackpot. Busy, loud - the service was a bit slow, but the menu is a lot of fun. Went for the trifecta:
1. Ragu of odd things: oxtails, trotters and tripe with hand rolled orchiette - was fantastic, rich and intensely flavored, with succulent melty pieces of tripe.
2. Foie gras with sweetbreads and summer vegetable minestrone - also really good. Generous chunks of foie gras that burst into liquid on the tongue, the sweetbreads were nearly the same texture - and just a bit of highly flavored broth. Great value at $17 imho.
3. Degustation of young lamb offal: heart, liver and kidney. Small portions of each - the heart tataki style on a shiso leaf, the liver on a flavored mustard. The kidney, two tiny slices on a potato/ramp puree, was exquisite.
These were all appetizer-sized and priced dishes. We also split an order of spaghetti carbornara and were each given a portion topped with a barely set egg. I'd like to come back and explore the menu a bit further.
Any other good organ-meat gems around town that you might recommend?
50 Commerce Street, New York, NY 10014
Since you're only here for a week, I'd say the top hits are:
Bar Bouloud (and the new DBGB) has amazing in-house charcuterie program: cicken liver pate, foie gras pate, rabbit terrine, head cheese terrine, pheasant and wild boar terrine, beef cheek, lamb terrine, guinea hen terrine, venison terrine, snails, boudin noir, and boudin blanc. Everything I've tried has been fantastic but my favorites were the "Grandma" and "Grandpa" pates. Bar Boulud has a bigger selection than DBGB, so I'd head there.
Casa Mono: their large menu has sweetbreads, duck hearts, foie gras, duck egg with mojama, bone marrow, oxtail, tripe. I've tried and loved the sweetbreads, foie gras, duck egg. The only thing I didn't love were the duck hearts but I think it's a texture thing. It's very popular but way less crowded for lunch than dinner. So walk in and grab a seat at the counter for lunch!
Babbo: they are open for dinner only, so you'd need to grab a seat at the bar before the kitchen opens. Super popular. Either go early or go late and be patient! I do love their lamb's tongue salad, warm tripe, crispy pig's foot, goose liver ravioli, lamb's brains ravioli, beef cheek ravioli, fennel dusted sweetbreads, mmmm. A friend who didn't even like sweetbreads had them at Babbo and loved them -- must be some sort of offal entryway drug.
Yakitori Totto: exquisite chicken parts, skewered and grilled with the utmost care. Thomas Keller goes here! If you watch the chefs, they really do take a lot of pride in cooking. The specials list is where it's at: chicken liver, chicken gizzard, chicken heart, chicken knee, chicken neck, chicken tail, chicken oyster ("rare part of chicken thigh"). Arrive early because they are known for these pieces and will sell out fast.
Blue Ribbon Brasserie or Bakery: it's a mini empire in NYC with several branches. Blue Ribbon Brasserie, Blue Ribbon Sushi, Blue Ribbon bar and grill, Blue Ribbon market, etc. At the Brasserie and also at the Bakery, they serve roasted bone marrow with their house-baked challah bread. I think it's slightly better at the Brasserie than the Bakery and you can eat at the bar. They open for dinner at 4pm and close at 4am daily, and it nearly always seems to be crowded.
Prune also has roasted bone marrow (and she's openly admitted to stealing Fergus Henderson's recipe from St John in the UK) but I think the Blue Ribbon Brasserie version is slightly better.
If you have time, I'd also stop into a Spanish place to get some blood sausage. For a sit down meal, I'd go either to Txikito or El Quinto Pino (sister restaurants). At Txikito, there's often an offal based item on the daily specials list in addition to the trotters, blood sausage bundles, veal jowl terrine, and crispy tongue. El Quinto Pino is known for their uni panini sandwich and last time I was there I had something wonderul with (I think) butifarra and chickpeas. If you're in a hurry, maybe get a takeout sandwich from Despana (don't forget to try their house brand of chorizo or blood sausage, made at their factory in Queens).
Xian Famous Foods just opened in the East Village. They also have two Flushing Queens branches and a Chinatown brunch. They offer a cold lamb's face salad. I've had it in the Queens branches but I think each time my friends drop by the EV one, they don't have it. Maybe you could call ahead, explain you're from out of town, and that you're dying to try it. While you're there, get a lamb burger or the cumin lamb hand pulled noodles. D1 I think on the menu. Super sweet service, and don't worry, they speak very good English.
Chez Napoleon (old school French restaurant) is worth a look for its kidney, calf's brains, rabbit, quail, frogs legs, sweetbreads. I've not been though.
Hakata Ton Ton in the West Village only does pig feet dishes. I haven't been...yet. And if you find yourself near the Spotted Pig or the Breslin, that might be worth a stop in, the food is excellent but not as offal heavy as other places in town (although it's pretty meat heavy it's just not as offal heavy).
Same for Ma Peche (foie gras, pig's head, morcilla, tripe) or Momofuku Ssam Bar (pig's ears, tripe, pig's head terrine). Not a ton of offal on the menus right now . Check out the menus online as there may be other dishes that also appear.
Oh, and if you're willing to go out to Queens, head for Kabab Cafe in Astoria (one of my favorite places ever) - Ali will cook testicles (on occasion), beef cheek, lamb's brains, duck liver, etc. It's not cheap, the menu outside is way out of date, I'm not sure they have AC, it's tiny inside, but the food is fantastic. You are, however, kind of at Ali's mercy in terms of what you get and how much it costs. I'd call ahead to make sure they're open in this heat.
251 W 55th St, New York, NY 10019
408 Broome St, New York, NY 10013
110 Waverly Pl, New York, NY 10011
52 Irving Place, New York, NY 10003
Momofuku Ssam Bar
207 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10003
314 W 11th St, New York, NY 10014
El Quinto Pino
401 W 24th St, New York, NY 10011
Blue Ribbon Brasserie
97 Sullivan St, New York, NY 10012
Blue Ribbon Sushi
119 Sullivan St, New York, NY 10012
365 W 50th St, New York, NY 10019
1900 Broadway, New York, NY 10023
240 9th Ave, New York, NY 10001
299 Bowery, New York, NY 10003
20 W 29th St, New York, NY 10001
15 W 56th St, New York, NY 10019
Xi'an Famous Foods
88 E Broadway, New York, NY 10002