Ever heard of a meat-and-three? No surprise if you haven’t, as it’s a down-home restaurant style that’s considerably more popular in the South than it is in New York — allowing customers to choose their protein (such as meatloaf, pork chops or chicken-fried steak), along with a trio of soulful sides, such as creamed corn, green beans or mac and cheese. But as swiftly as New York has appropriated Nashville hot chicken, we’ve poached their beloved, gut-busting, countrified concept as well, with not just one, but two new debuts, from a couple of unexpected sources.
Mr. Donahue’s was first out of the gate; a surprise second act from the Per Se-trained Uncle Boons team. Instead of retaining a South Asian through-line, they went deep into the American South with this throwback venture, located in the tiny, nine-seat space that used to be part of Lombardi’s. If you manage to nab one of the precious, few barstools or tables, you’ll receive committedly retro dishes on vintage, patterned china — such as Swedish Meatballs, fat-rimmed slabs of Roast Beef or flaky Broiled Porgy, slathered with sauces like Mushroom Marsala, Honey Mustard, Lobster or A la Rose (white whine, garlic and Calabrian chilies). Paired with only one side (you’ll pay $6 for each addition), natives would undoubtedly question Mr. Donahue’s legitimacy as a certified meat-and-three, but then again, these are hardly your average accompaniments; think Spicy Crab Imperial, Shrimp Cocktail, BBQ Oysters, Sunchoke Ravioli or Egg Drop Soup, in a turmeric and ginger-tinted broth.
And while he actually announced his intentions first, we’re still awaiting Harold’s Meat + 3 from former Commerce owner, Harold Moore, bound for Hudson Square’s Tommie Hotel. Priced at $19 a plate for spicy fried chicken or roast beef, $29 for pork butt, branzino or skirt steak, and $39 for rib-eye or lobster (plus $10 for access to a salad bar), it too sounds like a far cry from Tennessee institutions like Arnold’s Country Kitchen, where the going price for a full-on meat-and-three is $8.85, plus 25 cents for luxuries like white meat chicken, 50 cents for battered grouper, or $1 for pork chops, brisket or shrimp.
So until Manhattan eateries can eke by on $8 plates of catfish, it looks like the South can retain bragging rights to their trademark meat-and-three.
203 Mott Street
Harold’s Meat & 3
231 Hudson Square