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Jul 22, 2010 07:03 AM

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

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  1. That sounds delicious!

    For things, offal-y, my list is here:

    4 Replies
    1. re: kathryn

      That's quite an intimidating list - considering I'm only here for a week! What if you had to pick one or two?

      1. re: BIM

        "A bowl of tripe, a bowl of tripe, my kingdom for a bowl of tripe", try and get good offal in Florida; many here think a whole fish is offal, and not to be eaten!!!!!!

        1. re: BIM

          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.

          Yakitori Totto
          251 W 55th St, New York, NY 10019

          408 Broome St, New York, NY 10013

          110 Waverly Pl, New York, NY 10011

          Casa Mono
          52 Irving Place, New York, NY 10003

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

          Spotted Pig
          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

          Chez Napoleon
          365 W 50th St, New York, NY 10019

          Bar Boulud
          1900 Broadway, New York, NY 10023

          240 9th Ave, New York, NY 10001

          299 Bowery, New York, NY 10003

          The Breslin
          20 W 29th St, New York, NY 10001

          Ma Peche
          15 W 56th St, New York, NY 10019

          Xi'an Famous Foods
          88 E Broadway, New York, NY 10002

          1. re: kathryn

            Wow Kathryn - thanks for the in-depth breakdown. My mouth is watering. If I can make it to some of these places I will report back.