Week of January 7,
Tongue in Chic
|Bat's got your tongue: Babbo's pickled calf's tongue.
"Excuse me, can I ask you what that is? It looks wonderful," said the blonde
drinking a blood-orange Bellini and eyeing my plate at the bar at Babbo
recently. "Sure, it's calf's-tongue peperonata, and it's amazing," I said. A
pause. "You don't think it's wonderful anymore, do you?" I asked. "No," she
said coldly, immediately relinquishing her coveted bar stool. In spite of
this setback, tongue, that old delicatessen-case monster meat, is hot these
days, turning up on some of the best menus. "I think the real tongue lovers
are still the older crowd," says chef Mario Batali, "but at this point,
people at Babbo will try just about anything." Then I tell him about the
woman who fled his restaurant at the sight of a calf's tongue. "She'll come
back," he says, "just to be freaked out again -- it's like scary movies."
These beautifully prepared, artfully presented dishes shouldn't frighten you
out of your seat. Really.
After much continuing success with brains, tripe, and "little rabbit kidneys
served over polenta" at the Red Cat, chef Jimmy Bradley has turned his
attention to braised lamb's tongue sautéed with cremini mushrooms, deglazed
with Barolo, and served as an appetizer on grilled bread ($8).
355 Greenwich Street
Evidently, Mario "Beef Cheeks" Batali inherited his way with variety meats.
The recipe for his lingua salmistrata, or pickled calf's tongue with winter
radishes and salsa verde (pictured, $13), one of several dishes that feature
tongue on the menu, comes courtesy of his father, Armandino.
110 Waverly Place
Geoffrey Zakarian stuffs exceptionally rich and tender slow-braised veal
tongue "Basque-style" with curry, potato, leeks, and onion, and serves with
a radish-and-artichoke salad ($25). "I love tongue," Zakarian says, "but I
thought for sure the staff and I would be eating this dish." Instead, they
have to share with a ravenous dining public.
15 West 56th Street
Not necessarily suitable for Junior's lunchbox: thin-sliced-lamb's-tongue
sandwich with almond butter and red-currant jelly ($7).
49 Clinton Street
"There are certain things I put on my menu because I like them, although I
realize no one may order them," says chef-owner David Waltuck. "Calf's brain
is one, tongue is another." The latter occasionally appears on Chanterelle's
$73 prix fixe menu in the elegantly rustic form of a terrine of thinly
sliced smoked beef tongue layered with foie gras and served with sourdough
2 Harrison Street
Two Times a Chef
If you're an enterprising young chef, it must be tough running only one
kitchen these days -- friends and colleagues might think you're a slacker.
With the February 1 opening of his Alias Restaurant, a more ambitious
sibling to the terrific AKA Cafe (both offshoots of 71 Clinton Fresh Food),
Scott Ehrlich (pictured) joins the ranks of chef-nomads like Mario Batali and Tom
Colicchio, wandering tocques who hustle from one hot spot to another on a
nightly basis. Since Alias (formerly a Latino rice and beanery also called
Alias) is only half a block south of AKA, Ehrlich doesn't have far to go --
a good thing if you wear clogs to the office. There, in a dining room
designed by Takehiro Murao, the architect responsible for Jewel Bako, and a
kitchen twice the size of AKA's, he'll have more room to experiment with
clever pan-American bistro dishes like fried rabbit and waffles, skate fish
cakes, and, in tribute to a fading Lower East Side industry, a pickle-plate
76 Clinton Street
Bites & Buzz Archive
Week of December 31
Creative cocktails at the Vivian Beaumont; Oceana's sweet sea urchin custard; Beppe gets a visit from Mama; Picholine shines
Week of December 17
5 spots for New Year's Eve; French-Carribean cooking at La Brunette; Christmas Eve fishfest; take Payard home for Christmas; Boerum Hill's new bakery; Gael favorite cookbooks
Week of December 10
Urban hippie cuisine; Good Humor meets D'Artagnan; wood pigeon pie, and hot dogs — the new latte?
Photos: From top to bottom- Bettmann (Corbis);Patrik Rytikangas; Kenneth Chen; Andre Souroujon; Carina Salvi; Liz Steger