I recently introduced Andrew to the Breslin, April Bloomfield’s gastropub in the Ace Hotel (16 West 29th St. between Fifth Ave. and Broadway Tel: 212 679 1939) . We sat at the bar and ate our lamb burgers and thrice-cooked chips and enjoyed every minute of it. The place is always busy and since it doesn’t take reservations, it’s wise to get there bang on the dot of 12:00 to be sure you can get a table for lunch. Max, the bartender who is another good reason to go to the Breslin, told me that last Saturday they did over 400 covers at lunch! The food is honest and to be honest, a guilty pleasure since Ms. Bloomfield seems to have a diet-be-damned attitude to her cooking. I am sure there are some healthy alternatives on the menu, it’s just I would never order them. Who wouldn’t prefer an Oven baked 3 cheese sandwich with house smoked ham and an egg over a seasonal frittata with ricotta cheese? That would be a Breslin breakfast. Stay for lunch and the menu is even more inviting. But for me, there really is nothing to compare with the Grilled Tonque Sandwich with borscht. I am quite serious. The same tongue sandwich I heard Michael Symons rave about on “The Best thing I ever ate”. That same tongue sandwich that disappeared off the menu during the summer months. Thank goodness someone had the presence of mind to bring it back this Fall. So what’s all the fuss about? Read on…
The last and probably only time I remember eating tongue was in Italy. It’s an important part of a “Bollito Misto”, the Italian ‘boiled dinner’ that is traditionally made of beef, veal and/or veal tongue, chicken, a cotechino sausage and half a calf’s head. It’s not sounding much more appealing is it? And quite honestly, I’d be hard pressed to remember what it tasted like so over whelmed is it by the other meats. Because tongue doesn’t actually have a lot of taste. What is does have is an incredible tenderness, and cooked April Bloomfield’s way there’s a crispness to it as well.
|Max at work at the Breslin Bar|
Max informed me that the tongue itself is braised for a number of hours, yielding an intense stock and that stock is exactly what goes into the borscht that comes along with the sandwich. Last year it was served with lentil soup but now it comes with an incredibly delicious borscht, this rendition containing whole pieces of red beets. The traditional sour cream tops the soup. The accompanying tongue sandwich meanwhile is topped with a very intense horseradish cream that gives the sandwich a delicious bite. For the first time ever, I don’t have a recipe for you. But I don’t know that I’d bother making this at home. The Breslin’s is just too good to compete with. And besides I’d miss seeing Max if I did.