Some of the Best Food You’ll Never Eat in a Restaurant
Danny Meyer’s restaurants are among the most acclaimed and beloved in the nation: Union Square Cafe, Gramercy Tavern, Maialino, Blue Smoke, The Modern, and more, winners of an unprecedented number of James Beard Awards for outstanding food and hospitality. Family Table takes you behind the scenes of these restaurants to share the food that the chefs make for one another before they cook for you.
Each day, before the lunch and dinner services, the staff sits down to a “family meal.” It is simple, often improvised, but special enough to please the chefs’ discerning palates. Now, for the first time, the restaurants’ culinary director, Michael Romano, coauthor of the award-winning Union Square Cafe Cookbook, collects and refines his favorite in-house dishes for the home cook, served alongside Karen Stabiner’s stories about the restaurants’ often-unsung heroes, and about how this imaginative array of dishes came to be. Their collaboration celebrates food, the family itself, and the restaurants’ rich backstage life.
Some of the recipes are global and regional specialties: Mama Romano’s Lasagna, Dominican Chicken, Thai Beef, Layered Huevos Rancheros, and Southern Cola-Braised Short Ribs. Many highlight fresh produce, like Michael Anthony’s Corn Soup, Barley & Spring Vegetables with Pesto, Grilled Halibut with Cherry Tomatoes, Sugar Snap Peas & Lemon, and Plum & Apricot Crisp with Almond Cream. There are homey dishes like Turkey & Vegetable Potpie with Biscuit Crust and Streusel-Swirl Coffee Cake, and inventive, contemporary takes, like Cornmeal-Crusted Fish Tacos with Black Bean & Peach Salsa and a delightfully tangy Buttermilk Panna Cotta with Rhubarb-Strawberry Compote. What all these recipes have in common is ease and perfection.
Family Table is an invitation from the restaurant family to you: Please join in.
If you cannot afford to eat at Gramercy Tavern, you can at least afford to cook like one of its sous chefs. That's the premise of this solid and accessible collection of more than 150 recipes, derived from the family-style meals shared by staffs of 10 different New York City restaurants, all owned by Danny Meyer and his Union Square Hospitality Group. Too many cooks may spoil the broth, but the four dozen or so contributors here are striving for something more than a simple consomm . For instance, there is chilled carrot soup with frizzled ginger, as served up to the cafeteria staff at the Museum of Modern Art; and Romano's secret-ingredient soup from behind the scenes at the Union Square Cafe (spoiler alert: the secret ingredient is polenta). Most of the family-style entrees have been scaled to serve 4 to 6 people and cover a broad international spectrum, from jerk shrimp to lasagna to lamb meatballs with yogurt sauce. Meyer's Indian restaurant, Tabla, closed at the end of 2010, but is preserved here with a staff favorite, macaroni and cheese made with Grana Padano and thyme. Photos of the cooks at work are interspersed throughout the 11 chapters, and several of the contributors receive full-page profiles, including Chris Bradley, the executive chef at the Whitney Museum's restaurant, Untitled. Bradley has been known to treat his staff to pulled pork and beans.