The Whole Animal: Why and Where?

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As you’ve probably heard by now, grass-fed, pasture-raised meat is better for both eater and eaten. A number of chefs are taking the idea of sustainable meat one step further by making use of the whole animal, from head to rump — thus reducing waste for the farmer, butcher and restauranteur alike. For a taste of whole-animal dining, try these NYC restaurants on for size:

  • Resto
    A bit of Belgium in Gramercy/Murray Hill, Resto goes beyond the tired Belgian stereotypes like waffles and pomme frites. Sure, there are plenty of frites to dip, and a few other not-so-healthy dishes (as you might you expect from a restaurant whose motto is “bringing fat back”), but I’m a big fan of Resto’s so-called “Nose to Tail” dining. Gather your favorite meat lovers and order your feast of pig, goat, lamb or fish and blue crabs (call at least one week ahead to reserve).
  • Fatty ‘Cue
    Williamsburg’s favorite swine spot (now with a West Village outpost), Fatty ‘Cue treats its barbeque with plenty of shisoed, chili-peppered Asian love. Go on Sunday to enjoy a whole pig, diced and served with steamed buns and sautéed greens. Call ahead to reserve the head (well, half of it), which comes blackened and bao-ready with green papaya, cilantro, Thai basil, radish slices, miniature plum tomatoes, and delicate pickled red chilies.
  • Marlow & Sons (and Marlow & Daughters)
    Mr. Meat Hook Tom Mylan’s old chopping grounds, Marlow & Sons sits beside sister butcher shop Marlow & Daughters, which sells the meat the restaurant doesn’t use. Head to South Williamsburg and taste how Marlow & Sons elevates the simple to the unforgettable, then head next door for advice on how to replicate the magic at home; while you’re there, sample atypical delicacies (like beef heart and lamb’s head) and specialty cuts (like oyster steak, a dense, rich cut from just above the hip). Team Marlow isn’t kidding around about using the whole animal; ask about their cow and pig hide handbags.
  • Back Forty
    The folks at farm-to-table pioneer Peter Hoffman’s laid back, East Village tavern know how to rock a carcass. Chef de cuisine and butcher Shanna Pacifico utilizes different cuts for a variety of steaks (like flatiron and shoulder), brunch brisket hash, stocks and, of course, burgers. Speaking of burgers — I’d say Back Forty makes one of the city’s best.

In addition to the Clean Plates reviewed restaurants above, I recommend the following meat lover meccas that make good use of the whole animal:

  • Sauce
    A few blocks south of his East Village Itali-trio, Frank Prisinzano’s Sauce brings meat into focus — on the hanger and on your plate. At the restaurant-meets-grocery, butchers break down and hang local animals for diners and passerby to admire. Share a few small plates of slow-cooked meat-sauced pasta, and then take your pick from the cuts on display for your entrée or to cook at home.
  • Betto
    ‘ino family emperor Jason Denton and brother Joe are letting the animals out of the panini at Betto, Denton’s first Williamsburg venture. Centered around small plates and large format feasts, Betto’s nightly menu features a whole animal (along with seasonal sides). On Mondays, $25 can snag you a spot at Betto’s 15-person whole animal tasting. Chef Shaunna chooses the animal, and you choose the (complimentary) drink – bubbles, wine or Brooklyn brew.

What’s the most unusual cut of meat you’ve ever eaten? Have you sampled the restaurants above, and if so — any feedback? Let us know!

Image from Slope Farms, NY

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2 thoughts on “The Whole Animal: Why and Where?

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