Right about this time of year, we begin to tire of the same old roast chicken, pork chops, and grilled strip steaks. We eaters often forget there’s a whole other world of meat of the elk, venison and ostrich sorts. Well, a few, local restaurants are taking a walk on the wild side when it comes to their proteins, stocking their kitchens with pheasant, quail, and even kangaroo. Of course, rich cuts of meat like these are particularly well suited to cold weather dishes, so be sure to grab a taste before spring kicks in. Henry’s End’s Herb-Crusted Elk Chops and Casa Mono’s Quail with Toasted Quince are both excellent places to start, but these other delicious wild game dishes are worth hunting out, too!
Henry's End's Herb-Crusted Elk Chops
Let’s just say this… you don’t make a reservation at Henry’s End in Brooklyn if a simple soups, salad or pasta is what you crave. Unless, that is, you’re looking for a broth made out of Turtle Stock, or Gnocchi blanketed in Smoked Bacon and Texas Wild Boar Ragout. Red meat enthusiasts have continued to flock to this 40-year-old Brooklyn Heights eatery for its annual “Wild Game Festival Menu,” featuring a bevvy of seldom-seen steaks and chops. Be sure to try the Game Cassoulet with Duck Confit and Rabbit Sausage, Buffalo Steak with Truffled Fries, and a meaty Mixed Grill, piled with Rabbit Sausage, Wild Boar Belly, and best of all, Herb-Crusted Elk Chops. The elk chops hail from New Zealand, coated in mustard, herbs and breadcrumbs, and roasted with a Marsala wine saue.
Freeman’s Alley may be a bit of a celebrity magnet, but that doesn’t mean it’s not serious about its food. Far from it. Owners Taavo Somer and William Tigertt imagined Freeman’s as a “rugged clandestine colonial American tavern,” serving rustic comfort food inspired by Old World traditions. That translates to a bunch of taxidermied heads on the walls, solid wood floors and furniture, and hearty fare that tastes like it could have been cooked in a cast iron cauldron over a wood-burning fire. Case in point: The Hunters Stew, a savory braise of Elk, Venison and Wild Boar, topped with Chive Créme Fraîche and tender Potato Dumplings. It’s so cozy you’ll want to stay for a night cap and spend the night.Read More
Woodland's Riesling Braised Rabbit
Brendon Spiro (former owner of the recently shuttered Dutch bistro, Vandaag) has just brought this stylish, new “urban hunting lodge” to Park Slope. Appropriately, the menu focuses mostly on meat, sourced by British butcher, Jack O’Shea (who also supplies Heston Blumenthal’s famous Fat Duck in London). This ain’t your typical hunting lodge menu though. The dishes are wonderfully creative, like Venison Tartare with Raw Quail Egg, Clams and Crayfish with Hunters Sausage and Maple Sap, and a Riesling Braised Rabbit, served with Black Pepper-Licorice Spaetzle and Lardons.
Bareburger's Wild Game Burgers
If you’re not quite ready to chow down on a mammoth elk chop, or ruby red tenderloin of venison, why not start with an infinitely more approachable hamburger? Bareburger serves their organic wild game in patty form, at a number of locations throughout the city. Try “The Roadhouse,” a Bison burger topped with Sweet Apple Grilled Onions and Pepperjack Cheese, the “Habanero Express,” an Elk patty topped with Poblano Peppers and Spicy Pickle Chips, or the “Big Blue Bacon,” an Ostrich burger served with Bacon Marmalade, Sautéed Mushrooms, and Wisconsin Blue Cheese. Still not sold? Bison, elk, and ostrich are all significantly leaner than chicken or turkey, and have lots more protein than beef!
You may not know it, but the fare at Batali and Bastianich’s Casa Mono is inspired by Barcelona’s legendary La Boqueria market. And considering that the market’s original focus was meat, that makes any of the carnivorous options a rite of passage at this Gramercy Park fixture. Check out chef and co-owner Andy Nusser’s Rabbit with Anticuchos and Habanero Cuajada, or his Quail with Toasted Quince and Root Beer Salsify. There’s also a selection of whole organic animals, butchered in house and served family-style. Choices include Lamb Cazuela with Apricots and Pickled Onion, and Confit Goat with Candied Arrope and Sweet Potatoes.Read More
Chef Brad Farmerie’s “Australiasian” cuisine at Public showcases all of the proteins you might expect to find “down under.” That includes, of course, a mighty tasty (and a bit controversial) Grilled Kangaroo. The meaty marsupial is served on a bed of Coriander Falafel, and topped with Lemon Tahini Sauce and Green Pepper Relish. ‘Roo not your thing? There’s also a Cured Wild Boar with Caper Berries and Crostini as well as Grilled New Zealand Venison Loin, served with Cabrales Dumplings, Oyster Mushrooms and Salsa Verde.Read More
Gotham Bar and Grill's Pheasant Terrine
Chef and co-owner Alfred Portale can elevate almost any ingredient to an ethereal plane at Gotham Bar and Grill, which has been a fine dining, Greenwich Village staple since 1984 and still going strong. That includes Portale’s pheasant, a humble game bird (which yes, tastes a lot like chicken). You’ll find the free-roaming poultry compressed into an elegant Pheasant Terrine, along with Foie Gras, Black Trumpet Mushrooms, Sicilian Pistachios, and Baby Chiogga Beets, and served with Brioche Toast.
21 Club's Mixed Grill of Game
Though this landmark midtown restaurant is probably better known for its $32 burgers and grandiose “men’s club” vibe, it’s also a pretty good pick if you’re looking to chow down on a serious plate of meat. The Mixed Grill of Game is one of longtime chef John Greeley’s signature dishes, an elaborate assortment of Coffee-rubbed Elk Loin, Chocolate-dusted Millbrook Farm Venison, Rabbit Sausage, Bacon-wrapped Wild Boar, Sauerkraut, and Apple Purée. The man knows his way around wild game, so come hungry because this is one big dish.