by Cynthia Sin-Yi Cheng
August 19, 2009
1 Bryant Park
135 W 42nd St
(Broadway & 6th Ave)
New York, NY 10036
236 5th Ave
(27th & 28th Sts)
New York, NY 10001
I’m a raw beef fan. I like it in all cuisines and all styles from the Italian carpaccio to the Korean yook hwe and everything in between. I just love the texture and the clean taste.
Lucky for me, I recently found two renditions that made my heart skip a beat.
The newly-relocated Aureole — now next to the Condé Nast Buildling in Times Square — serves a beef tartare ($14) on the Bar Room Snacks menu during lunch and dinner. The cubes of beef are garnished with diced red onion, capers, lemon zest, quail egg yolk, black pepper, and parsley. The unexpected twist, however, is the honey mustard, which initially seems out of place but actually works. The dish came with potato-onion toasts, which I didn’t pay attention to until I had finished. I prefer the beef without the toast. It’s just so good on its own! And, of course, bubbly is always my preferred pairing with steak tartare (or all steaks for that matter!). I had the 2001 Iron Horse Aureole cuvée ($17) (a 71% Pinot Noir and 29% Chardonnay blend) which, as an older vintage and Pinot-heavy blend, has enough weight to go with the meat and all its seasonings.
Cynthia Sin-Yi Cheng
I also got to taste the Lebanese version of steak tartare, kibbeh naya ($14), at Ilili. The texture of the finely minced meat strikes a strong contrast to the cubes at Aureole. Mixed with bulgur, it comes with onion squares, mint and jalapeños and is eaten with pita. This is a dish that I will crave as a meal. I had it with the 2004 Château Massaya Silver Selection ($12), a Lebanese wine of Rhône blends that paired well. I did see that the 2007 Chenin Blanc from Long Island’s Paumanok Vineyards ($15) is also on the list. That would be an excellent choice to pair with kibbeh naya as well.
This piece is dedicated to my childhood friend Stephanie Ling, whose entire family has a thing for steak tartare. When they are in Paris, they’ll have tartare several meals in a row. Last Christmas, she organized a steak tartare dinner in Taipei for me at a restaurant where steak tartare wasn’t even on the menu. To Steph, for sharing the love of raw beef!