Game Takes the Throne: Meat Dishes for This Winter Wonderland
Something about heavy snowfall just calls for a hearty meal. Although prime wild game season tapered off about a month or so ago, dining on animals like venison, wild boar, and partridge feels nothing short of primal. These are hibernation foods -- the excessively rich dishes that lead to involuntary naps. For a wintertime meal that'll have you grunting in approval, here are seven dishes from restaurants around town sure to bring out your inner carnivore. Don't blame us if you go all Wolf-man or woman -- that hair on your palms is your own shame-fueled fault.
7. "Roadhouse" elk burger, Bareburger, 33-21 31st Avenue, Queens; 718-777-7011
In five short years, Bareburger has expanded from a humble Astoria flagship to 17 locations spanning three city boroughs, Long Island, New Jersey, and Connecticut. Aside from using reclaimed materials to build the restaurants' interiors, the local chain uses organic meats for its burgers including bison, elk, ostrich, and wild boar in addition to beef and turkey. Our favorite combination to date is medium-rare elk gussied up "Roadhouse" style, with pepper jack cheese, bacon, avocado, grilled onions, marinated red peppers, and smoked paprika mayonnaise.
6. Partridge pie at Robert, 2 Columbus Circle, 212-299-7730
An explosion of neon bursting forth from the ninth floor of the Museum of Arts and Design, Robert restaurant looks like a Blade Runner fever dream with gorgeous views of Central Park and Columbus Circle. Thankfully, a few dishes ground the otherwise dull retro menu, including a savory partridge pie bursting with shredded herb-tinged fowl. The partridge's slight gaminess is tempered by all the butter in the pie's crust, and a cascade of stewed down mushrooms add further funk. The dish ($18) is listed under the "share plates" section, but it's petite (and rich) enough that it could make a fine, inexpensive entree for one.
5. Wild boar paella at Manzanilla, 345 Park Avenue South, 212-255-4086
This Spanish restaurant with a modernist bent is the brainchild of Michelin-starred chef Dani García and Boqueria restaurateur Yann de Rochefort. As an occasional special, García serves a particularly hearty paella built around hunks of wild boar and a heady mushroom sofrito. Depending on the cuts available, you might receive loin or shoulder -- both are magnificent, gamy, and exceedingly tender. Adorned with glistening planks of glazed bone marrow and sautéed broccolini, the boar and mushroom-infused rice exudes an earthiness that perfumes the entire table.
4. Venison leg at Aldea, 31 West 17th Street, 212-675-7223
For the last five years, George Mendes has delivered punchy Mediterranean-inflected food from a modest open kitchen in the back of the restaurant's slim, brightly-lit dining room. The few front row seats radiate with warmth from the ovens, a perfect precursor to the feeling that comes from eating Mendes' sous vide venison leg. Seared to medium-rare, the meat sits in a red wine and juniper venison jus with a fluffy boulder of white corn grits off to the side. Braised red cabbage cuts through the heavier ingredients.