Unassumingly tucked between Park and Lexington on 29th street, The Cannibal describes itself as “a café and retail shop by day [where you can lay your hands not only on some of the most delicious animal parts the city has to offer, but also non edible stuff like bike jerseys and other cycling gear] and charcuterie/small plates joint by night.” Animal parts and 450 beers, did you say? I’m in.
Photography: Jodie Chan
Read about her virtues of bone marrow and survey some shots of various dishes after the jump…
The doorstopper at the entry way is a keg—promising. Upon our visit on a Friday afternoon, MSNBC was blasting with updates about the Facebook IPO. At other times, Eater NY notes, the cycling-enthusiastic restaurant has been showing all of the Giro D’Italia races as well as, later in the year, the Tour de France.
I had really only come for one item: the Merguez sausage, but mercilessly it was the only thing they were out of (the Merguez dog at Épicerie Boulud is the real deal; you would need at least need, but more on that later.) A meater musn’t despair, so I gravitated towards what I thought to be the next best thing—their bone marrow.
We all know bone marrow in the medical sense is no laughing subject, donations and transplants are a matter of life and death. But consider the dish. Fattiness, juiciness, flavor and garnishing are all critical, and in my point of view, the more of all of the four, the better. The bone marrow at The Cannibal ticks all the right boxes. Served with standard slices of toasted bread, the gooiness of the bone marrow—lightly salted, paired with the tanginess and the crispiness of lemon, parsley and radish—really does create the perfect bite. The oiliness of the marrow tastes inexplicably healthy; although oozing with fat. The only other food that creates this sensation for me is unadulterated sea urchin.
The Cannibal does a great job here in not over dramatizing the dish; the marrow at Minetta Tavern, for example, while delicious and perfect on a cozy winter night, is overwhelming in size and richness. This dish here also gets me thinking about the under-usage of bone marrow in other dishes where it is not the star itself. What about bone marrow in pasta with bacon bits and arugula? Edamame doused in bone marrow reduction? Heck, bone marrow fried rice?
So next time you see bone marrow on the menu, before you or your tablemates squirm and go instead for a safe hamburger, give it a try. Hopefully, you will wash it down with a pint of Kostritzer Schwarzbier while watching Cadel Evans battling it out towards the Champs-Élysées.