Lulu Cake Boutique Owner Jay Muse's Favorite Meat Dishes in Westchester
Grass-eaters of the world, be warned: Reading this article may tempt you to revert...or cancel your subscription. Jay Muse, co-owner of Lulu Cake Boutique, takes us on a red-blooded tour of the country’s top “meateries.”
Photo by Andre Baranowski
Jay Muse is in beef/veal/hog heaven in the meat department at Port Chester’s Tarry Market.
I have a real beef with those who don’t spice up their conversations (and their cuisine) with the “M” word. I’m not ashamed to be carnivorous—I’d even say I’m carnivoracious. None of this metrosexual grazing on rabbit fodder. Go hug a quiche, for all I care.
People need to stop all this posturing about the moral and ethical sinfulness of eating animal flesh. In the great evolutionary scheme of things, we have become creatures who can look an animal in the eye and savor it down to its marrow. So sharpen your steak knives and come along with me on a red-blooded, high-protein tour of some of Westchester’s prime eateries—or should I say meateries?
Let’s start with Asian, at Aberdeen Seafood & Dim Sum Restaurant (3 Barker Ave, White Plains 914-288-0188; aberdeenwhiteplains.com). Both its yummy fried chicken with minced garlic and the pork chop with spicy chili sauce are recommended for lapsed vegans who want to make their transition back to meats. While I’m not a big poultry fan, Aberdeen’s fried chicken is perfectly crispy on the outside and tender, succulent, and moist on the inside. Caveat: The dish is varnished with soy sauce and loaded with garlic, so it may not be the best choice for a first-date meal. The pork chops here are also near perfection—seasoned with chili pepper and scallion, while the meat itself is mouth-meltingly tender with aromatic flavors.
And if you still think that beef is the Evil One, you can indulge in the lesser of evils: white meat in the form of Five-Spice Chicken at Lucky Buddha (1008 Broadway, Thornwood 914-495-3365; luckybuddha-us.com). Here, the seasonings are paired with an outstanding fried rice flecked with a wonderful array of vegetables—food that’s not only comforting, but quite delicious.
If you must have your lettuce and eat it, too, try Korea Garden (2375 Central Ave, Yonkers 914-771-4066; koreagardenyonkers.com), where the galbi makes for the best lettuce wrap. All right, it’s still rabbit fodder in my opinion, but here the purpose of the lettuce is to keep all those scrumptious chunks of beef together. In true Korean barbecue style, the meats are grilled at your table, cooked over an open flame with garlic and green peppers, and simply seasoned with sesame oil. I’ll give vegetarians a break by advising you to order and enjoy the pajeori (green onion salad). Normally, you have to ask for this stuff if you aren’t a regular (or Korean).
I love the tender, succulent short ribs—braised in beer to up the he-man factor—at Roasted Peppers (320 Mamaroneck Ave, Mamaroneck 914-341-1140; roasted peppersny.com). For a less macho approach, try the fegato alla Veneziana (calf’s liver) at Lusardi’s (1885 Palmer Ave, Larchmont 914-834-5555; lusardislarchmont.com). This flavorful dish is sautéed with onions and white wine and served in a lovely nest of fresh polenta (the perfect peace offering to appease the Quiche-Huggers’ God for the sacrifice of a poor calf’s hopeless little liver). This is my favorite preparation of this organ in the county.
If you prefer your animal flesh in the form of meatballs, look no further than the Afghan-nuanced ones at Kraft Bistro (104 Kraft Ave, Bronxville 914-337-4545; kraftbistro.com). Although I’m not sure what it is that exactly makes these ones Afghan, I do have a newfound respect for the Kabul crowd and what they can do with a couple of pounds of ground beef. Taiim Falafel Shack (598 Warburton Ave, Hastings-on-Hudson 914-478-0006; taiimfalafelshack.com) purveys not only Westchester’s meaty alternative to falafel (breakfast of pantywaists, in my opinion), but also köfte kebab—one of my favorite Middle Eastern meat dishes. They are perfectly seasoned with fresh herbs and grilled to perfection. For a traditional serving, just like mama mio used to make, you will “meat” your match at Moscato (874 Scarsdale Ave, Scarsdale 914-723-5700; moscatorestaurant.com), whose meatballs melt in your mouth like mmmmm. Taking it to a whole new level are the folks at Chat American Grill (1 Christie Pl, Scarsdale 914-722-4000; chatamericangrill.com), who not only wrap their meatloaf in bacon, but then dredge it in an artery-clogging mushroom-bourbon gravy!
And now for the burger, the quintessentially American meat dish, the red-blooded icon of fast-food outlets from coast to coast. My favorite burger in town isn’t the most expensive. In fact, I think you’ll find it quite reasonable. I’m referring to the burger at that great Eastchester institution known as Piper’s Kilt (433 White Plains Rd, Eastchester 914-779-5772). This meatery is known for its legendary fare, including the juiciest burgers ever cooked to order (and to perfection), piled monstrously high with crisp wedges of lettuce, tasty bacon, and thick-cut onions. And these burgers are not only juicy, they’re multi-napkin, run-down-your-arm juicy, dripping with the ambrosia of the carnivoracious Meat God: sweet, beefy, bloody grease. Oh, the ecstasy of it all!
Restaurant North (386 Main St, Armonk 914-273-8686; restaurantnorth.com) presents a high-brow take on the burger with its signature blended meat, ground from locally procured beef. Perfect when paired with house-cured smoked bacon, New York State cheddar, sriracha aïoli, and served on a fancy brioche bun. No blue-collar greasiness here. This burger just begs to be washed down with a bold glass of red wine.
Speaking of bread and meat, you should never deprive yourself of the short-rib sliders at The Tap House (16 Depot Sq, Tuckahoe 914-337-6941; thetaphouseny.com). When my testosterone is on overdrive and I must rampage on an alpha-male meat binge, I order two appetizer servings of these sliders in lieu of an entrée.
When I’m looking for a Reuben that rivals those from the Lower East Side, I head to Melt Sandwich Shop (277 Mamaroneck Ave, White Plains 914-358-1364; meltsandwich.com), where black-pepper-rubbed beef pastrami meets Swiss cheese, pickles, sauerkraut, and Thousand Island dressing. It is a sin to order this on anything other than rye. The only thing missing is a dish of pickles, cole slaw, and a bottle of Dr. Brown’s. For that experience, you can’t go wrong with Epstein’s Kosher Deli (2574 Central Ave, Yonkers 914-793-3131; epsteinskosher.com), where they throw in bagel chips and serve up a mean chopped liver fried with onions in schmaltz. There’s something very incestuous about chicken liver cooked in chicken fat.
Niko’s Greek Taverna (287 Central Ave, White Plains 914-686-6456; nikostaverna.com) takes me back to my childhood, when the trailer-trash flavor of Hamburger Helper was as good as it got. Here, you can savor a remarkable pastitsio in which layers of ground beef and perfectly cooked tube macaroni are married with luxuriously smooth, silky layers of béchamel cream sauce. If you die-hard quiche-huggers must add vegetables to your meat to assuage your secret inner carnivore, then simply order the moussaka, which is a little veggier. Hope the present economic crisis in Greece doesn’t turn them into a nation of lotus-eaters.
Lalibela (37 S Moger Ave, Mount Kisco 914-864-1343; lalibelamountkisco.com), the county’s only Ethiopian restaurant, is renowned for its hearty kitfo, a wonderfully prepared ground-beef tartare marinated with two tangy elements: mitmita, a very spicy, earthy chili powder, and niter kibbeh, a rich clarified butter simmered with cumin, turmeric, and coriander. And if you really wince at the thought of raw meat, stick with the wat, which is as hearty as it gets when it comes to stew, superb when paired with their signature spongy, tangy injera bread.
For hearty Italian fare, it’s hard to resist the pork osso bucco alla milanese at Tarry Lodge (18 Mill St, Port Chester 914-939-3111; tarrylodge.com)—fork-tender, flavorful, and perfect when paired with sweet corn fregola. The soulful tagliatelle bolognese at Tarry Lodge also deserves praise for its simplicity, magnificently dusted with their house Parmesan. However, it was the braised veal tortellini with sage and veal jus at the Italian Kitchen (698 Saw Mill River Rd, Ardsley 914-693-5400; ik-ny.com) in Ardsley that takes the trophy as this meat lover’s favorite pasta dish in the county.
For plain, unadulterated steak frites, I love Bistro Rollin (142 Fifth Ave, Pelham 914-633-0780; bistrorollin.com). The chef’s exceptionally prepared peppercorn sauce is a sumptuous way of achieving that fine balance that complements the flavor of the beef without overpowering it. Less is not only more—less is perfection here.
For all the bells and whistles, Red Hat on the River’s (1 Bridge St, Irvington 914-591-5888; redhatbistro.com) Claiborne steak provides 12 ounces of New York shell-steak heaven, swimming in an understated béarnaise sauce. The crispy fries are the perfect final touch—and no better place to have them with a view like that! If my cholesterol-clogged arteries give up the ghost, let it be here.
Another great 12 ounces of brute cow flesh can be found at Sam’s of Gedney Way (50 Gedney Way, White Plains 914-949-0978; samsofgedneyway.com), whose grilled grass-fed Black Angus sirloin comes dressed up in a lovely bordelaise sauce. This is a steak that gives you more bang for your beef.
Surprisingly, though, my favorite steak in town does not come from a steakhouse but from X2O Xaviars on the Hudson (71 Water St, Yonkers 914-965-1111; xaviars.com/yonkers), with its perfectly aged and grilled cowboy rib-eye for two. These cuts are marbled with the most glorious swaths of fat, giving it the richest, most distinctive flavor. And it’s encrusted with brown sugar and a hint of cayenne. With this nuance, it doesn’t even need the accompanying smooth-as-silk béarnaise sauce—it could stand on its own.
Honorable mention is the bone-in sirloin from Spadaro (211 Main St, New Rochelle 914-235-4595), which gets high marks for steak preparation. Here, the organic cut is seared perfectly. The simplicity of this dish needs only a few lemon wedges to accent the deliriously juicy succulent meat flavors that pierce through this dish.
So, if you still want to have a little beef with your salad, never deprive yourself of one of Westchester’s finest dishes, the crispy slices of sweetbreads on salad, French string beans, and warm Xérès and balsamic vinaigrettes at Buffet de la Gare (155 Southside Ave, Hastings 914-478-1671; buffetdelagareny.com). For the uninitiated, thymus (that good brain food, also known as neck sweetbread) is sweet and rich tasting, as opposed to savory muscle flesh. You can lose your “carnivirginity” here with ease.
For my Mexican fix, I make my run for the border to Tacos El Poblano (122 Nepperhan Ave, Yonkers 914-963-1111; tacoselpoblano.com), where the cecina (or aged beef) tacos are perfectly salty, smoky, and aged. These come very close to what I ate when growing up in Los Angeles, where the best tacos came from the street trucks and hole-in-the-wall dives. The shredded flank steak in the ropa vieja at Don Coqui (115 Cedar St, New Rochelle 914-637-3737; doncoqui.com) are beautifully shellacked with the essence of garlic, tomato, and exotic Caribbean seasoning. At Bellota at 42 (1 Renaissance Sq, White Plains 914-761-4242; 42therestaurant.com), the skirt steak with fried egg and Canary Islands mojo verde beckons you to the charming city of Lisboa, Portugal. There’s something very sexy about a fried egg sitting atop a hunk of beef.
The Irish are reputed to be less than stellar in the kitchen, but their quintessential meat and potatoes shine brightly in the corned beef and cabbage at Rory Dolan’s Restaurant, Bar & Caterers (890 McLean Ave, Yonkers 914-776-2946; rorydolans.com). Thank goodness Saint Patrick chased the snakes, not the cows, out of Ireland.
Oh, I haven’t forgotten ribs or chili, the revered staples of Super Bowls, summer picnics, and those informal, ladle-it-yourself get-togethers with friends and family when you don’t feel like cooking up a formal meal. The chili is super chunky at Hubba (24 N Main St, Port Chester 914-939-7271), where it’s chock full of tomato sauce and—most important—ground beef. Just a meatball’s throw away is Q Restaurant & Bar (112 Main St, Port Chester 914-933-7427; qrestaurantand bar.com), where all-you-can-eat ribs are the specialty on Monday nights. Q’s Saint Louis-style ribs are ultra-meaty, super-smoky, and perfectly lean, not to mention totally addictive (sorry, no doggie bags for your inner canine—oops, carnivore).
So, if your aim is to bulldoze your way through the meateries of Westchester County, don’t take a leaf from me—take some beef. “Take a leaf” sounds like I want you to nibble on some soggy parsley. Instead, be an unrepentant meat eater and see what you’ve been missing by your lily-livered vegetarianism. Be ruthless: Have a cow for lunch today. And a pig. And a chicken. And one of those lettuce-chewing rabbits with eyes on the side. From the top of the food chain, bon appétit!