I wedge into one of the downstairs checkered-cloth-covered communal tables at D'Artagnan, in midtown, for juicy slabs of country lamb from the rotisserie, great bowls of "macaronade" (nuggets of foie gras and big tubes of ziti in a rich wild-mushroom sauce), or a crock of Ariane Daguine's hometown Gascogne cassoulet, filled with fat Tarbais beans, garlic duck sausage, and dense strips of duck confit.
Another favorite trencherman watering hole is the bar at Olives, at the Union Square W Hotel. Despite what my more refined foodie friends say "macho stadium food" is what one of them called it it's always a pleasure to sample pedestals of tuna tartare with a drizzling of sesame dressing and several crispy rock shrimp buried at the bottom, slow-braised beef shanks as big as softballs atop scoops of whipped hummus, in minty Greek-yogurt sauce, and Todd English's patented hamburger, which is smothered in sautéed onions and pressed between two squares of toasted panini.
Beacon, in midtown, is where I go for a furtive taste of the eighteen-ounce Argentinian "ranch-grazed" rib-eye ($29) and platter upon platter of the delicious mixed-sausage grill: smoked duck sausage, blood sausage, and generous cuts of coal-fired chorizo. When my brother and I need a quick seafood fix, we sidle up to the bar at Mary's Fish Camp, in the West Village, to grapple with a bowl of those messy lobster knuckles, followed by the giant, structurally challenged lobster roll and (if it's dinnertime) the impressive house bouillabaisse, stocked with lobster claws, mussels, and scallops as big as tangerines. Finally, there's the bar at Babbo, where it's always a pleasure to indulge in Mario Batali's favorite offal delicacies, like beef-cheek ravioli decked in truffle sauce, pig's feet Milanese (deboned, breaded, and flattened, as if by a steam roller), and a melty mass of veal-tripe Parmesan. My wife always averts her eyes when this controversial dish appears, but from a distance, after a glass or two of Barolo, I swear it looks almost picturesque.
|D'Artagnan Rotisserie, 152 East 46th Street, 212-687-0300
Olives, W New York Union Square Hotel, 201 Park Avenue South, at 17th Street, 212-353-8345
Beacon, 25 West 56th Street, 212-332-0500
Mary's Fish Camp, 64 Charles Street, 646-486-2185
Babbo, 110 Waverly Place, 212-777-0303