Fergus Henderson of English Restaurant St. John Organ-izes Barbuto in the West Village
For nearly a decade, as a member of the Organ Meat Society, I've been following the career of Fergus Henderson, notorious English advocate of "nose to tail" eating, and probably the most esteemed chef an animal organ has ever known.
St. John restaurant
The chef was in New York last Thursday to offer a pair of lunch seatings at Barbuto, the West Village restaurant helmed by Jonathan Waxman, the man who first brought California style cooking to New York with his restaurant Jams in the 1980s.
Fergus Henderson is the chef at St. John, generally regarded as one of the best restautants in England, and a place that daringly specializes in offal offerings. As a friend and I scanned the menu, we became excited at the list of appetizers, which constituted a Who's Who of Organs: There were marrow bones and tongues, kidneys and feet, tripe and eel pie.
Though the printed paper menu - decorated with a 19th-century steel engraving of a pig at the top -- had a brief list of entrees and sides, all the action was in the apps. The first thing to hit the table was a pile of fava beans still in their pods, constituting a sort of palate cleanser for what was to follow. We ordered a bargain-priced bottle of Italian rose to wash everything down.
We were seated under an umbrella on the sidewalk, and the spring sunshine and stiff breezes off the Hudson River only added to our pleasure. Fergus Henderson and Jonathan Waxman could be seen in the open kitchen with five other cooks, Henderson presiding over all, arms folded, carefully inspecting dishes as they emerged from the stove or wood-burning hearth, which could be seen flickering merrily from most vantage points in open-air dining room. Watching the chefs at work was a great pleasure.
Next: A pictorial diary of our amazing meal