Have we arrived at the “out like a lamb” part of March yet? We sure hope so. Herald the end of wintry mix and the start of spring breezes by trying some of the city’s best lamb dishes. Our five favorites follow. By Jessica Allen.
Our server said of Do or Dine’s fatty lamb breast, “This is going to haunt your dreams.” We should consult this guy, or the chefs at this wildly inventive restaurant in Brooklyn, for lottery picks: visions of it have been hounding us ever since. Roasted with cumin and lime juice, the lamb lodges in the mind both for the punchy flavor and its terrific texture. So much lamb winds up a chewy monotone, but the way this is cut and served, you get crunchy crust and supple meat in every bite.
Xi’an Famous Foods specializes in the food of Xi’an, once the easternmost starting (or ending, depending on your perspective) point of the Silk Road. Perhaps the most celebrated dish, the spicy and tingly lamb face salad is exactly what it sounds like, but just about all the lamb on the menu is perfection, including spicy cumin lamb hand-ripped noodles (pictured). This restaurant offers piquant rib-sticking food, truly fortifying food, the kind of food you want to eat before you head out into the cold, or down a very long road.
When these sliders arrive at your table, you might feel a flicker of hesitation. After all, they’re so gosh darn cute, you might not know whether to eat them or pet them. Go with your gut, and gobble them up. Atop the lamb meatball are caprino cheese and delicate slivers of cucumber, everything smothered in red sauce. Locanda Verde, a casual neighborhood taverna run by Andrew Carmellini in the Greenwich Hotel, is several years old at this point but remains a smash hit. We think the sliders have something to do with this restaurant’s success.
Family-owned and family-operated since 1997, Djerdan specializes in the humble burek, a savory pie popular in the Middle East and Eastern Europe in which the filing alternates between layers of phyllo. Four bucks gets you a huge hunk of lamb, between whisper-thin dough, or a wedge of spinach, or a chunk of cheese (think a pizza sandwich). If you can’t get to one of the restaurants in Queens, Brooklyn, or New Jersey, call 888-Go-Burek and try to work something out with one of the friendly customer service reps. No matter where you go, the bureks are made fresh to order.
Blue Hill has taken the farm-to-table concept as far as it can go by opening a restaurant on a farm. The Barber Brothers began a biodynamic farm called Stone Barns in upstate New York in 2004, to supply their Manhattan restaurant with even more produce and meat (they already had another farm in western Massachusetts). Chef Dan Barber lets the ingredients assert themselves with minimal fuss, particularly in the five-course “Farmer’s Feast,” made from whatever was just harvested, or humanely slaughtered, such as lamb. POTUS and FLOTUS are fans, as are many other famous and nonfamous folk, including the James Beard Foundation, which nominated the Village location as “Outstanding Restaurant” in 2013.