I wanted three of the entrees listed on the menu and there were three of us sitting at the table. I may not be good with numbers but it seemed pretty clear to me what had to happen at a recent dinner with girlfriends at The Breslin. Ordering all three menu items would’ve cost more than I had budgeted for (money and calorie wise) so the solution was simple. Each of us had to get one of the three entrees and we all had to share.
The nice thing about good girlfriends is that most of the time they’re good friends because you like the same things and tend to reason the same way. These fine friends of mine, creative thinkers with healthy appetites (not unlike a certain someone writing this, ahem) came to the same conclusion and so as it often does with good people and good food, everything worked out. We each picked one of the three entrees and split them so that no one was bound to any one dish and we each had ourselves a little trinity of Breslin goodness.
Dish number one was salt cod brandade with bread salad, a recommendation from a foodie friend who works at The Ace Hotel. (Her exact words: “I’m obsessed.”) On first inspection, it looked like a regular salad, with green, leafy springs of cilantro. But a closer look and some poking around with a pork revealed the creamy salt cod brandade. Brandade, so I’ve learned, is a sort of puree dish made with salt cod, olive oil and milk. I didn’t learn this till after we ordered it, or actually till after we ate it, left, went home and Googled it. While I was expecting cod in the traditional sense, I liked this version better. It was soft and smooth, and the taste was salty and zesty but not overpowering. The bread salad mixed in with the cod was good too, with a subtle creaminess, a lot like the cod. I’ve had bread salad before (one of my favorite summer foods, panzanella, a salad made with stale bread, tomatoes, cucumbers and other ingredients) but this was different. It was less show-offy, less of the main attraction and more of a great way to get into heavier things.
Next up, we had another recommended dish from our friend at The Ace: crispy sweetbreads with minty green peas. (“Incredible!” she had gushed) Sweetbreads, which I’m ok with but never really too excited about (after all, they’re the thymus glands and pancreas of some unfortunate little animal) aren’t usually something I rave about but these were great. The meat was tender and the breaded fried crispiness of the outside was salty and just slightly crunchy, like perfectly fried skin on a piece of chicken. You know, one of those things you know you shouldn’t be eating but you can’t stop because it’s so tasty. Underneath the sweetbreads was a surprisingly delicious mound of mashed minty peas with bacon. They were creamy but not too mushy and were a great companion both in taste and texture to the crispy sweetbreads.
And finally, making a grand, fashionably late appearance at our table was the lamb burger. At a lot of restaurants, getting a burger is the safe choice, the ol’ reliable burger you know you can count on when everything else on the menu is weird or unappetizing. But at The Breslin, the lamb burger is a star. Unlike other food which comes on standard white dishes, the burger rides in on a heavy wooden cutting board, next to a tall, paper wrapped stack of fries, a side of cumin mayo and an intense steak knife, just to remind you it’s not a “safe” burger you’re dealing with. A serious hunk of amazingly juicy lamb meat is topped with salty, sour and mouthwatering feta cheese and the whole thing is sandwiched between two fat, soft ciabatta roll halves. Just a smear of the cumin-spiced mayo and you have a burger that is anything but safe. And the fries? Perfect. Thickly cut, slighlty crunchy on the outside, a little soft on the inside, perfectly seasoned. Just maybe, the best fries I’ve had.
In the end our food threeway was the ideal way to approach dinner at The Breslin. The cod was great but probably not enough by itself, the sweetbreads might’ve been too much sweetbreads, and the burger might’ve been overfilling (although I wouldn’t have complained), but a third of each? That’s just magic.