In this day and age where vegetarians and vegans flourish in the New York dining scene, it is always nice to see one more meat-centric restaurant in the city. Don’t get me wrong; I have built a ton of appreciation for vegetable dishes having dined in the Big Apple for the past five plus years, and some of the most memorable dishes I’ve had in my culinary journey were completely free of meat. That doesn’t mean, however, that I can stay away from meat in all of its forms (same, thankfully, for my girlfriend). And the duo of April Bloomfield and Ken Friedman is one of the culinary leaders when it comes to making sure that New Yorkers get their satisfaction from eating four-legged animals. Their latest project, unlike other groundbreaking restaurants like The Spotted Pig, is a more modest proposition, a tiny dining space adjacent to a butcher shop in Upper West Side that doesn’t get the limelight in New York dining. On a recent visit to the restaurant, my girlfriend and I had a satisfying meal that shows this team doesn’t mess with meat dishes.
Having walked around the annual Armory Show in Pier 92 / 94, my girlfriend and I were beyond starving by the time we arrived at White Gold Butchers, and the hunger quickly didn’t subside after a serviceable sourdough toast with meat drippings and radish on top. In the rather concise menu of meat dishes, it was really hard to choose which one to go for because each really sounded delicious. At the end, we settled on pork shank agrodolce and beef steak. The best dish of the night clearly belonged to the enormous pork shank, which was braised to near perfection and the underlying agrodolce (traditional sweet and sour sauce in Italian cuisine) gave a surprisingly rich and complex touch to the flavor that my girlfriend and I both really loved.
What about the beef? We both agreed that it was a very nicely cooked steak with juicy, tender texture but as with most steak dishes we’ve had gripes about, the seasoning was an issue. My girlfriend specifically asked that we get anchovy vinaigrette on the side and the meat still came with a tad more salt than we had hoped. I ended up rarely dipping the steak on the vinaigrette because I was afraid the flavor might kill the meat’s texture entirely. On the other hand, I had zero complaints on the side. Brussels sprouts with tomato sauce had surprisingly pleasant touches, and the crispy layered potato that some critics have fallen in love with did live up to its reputation. My girlfriend, wary of my health after finding out the potato was fried in beef fat, concurred that it was a fantastic side after taking a small bite. For dessert, chocolate mousse and cake was delicately but not overly sweet to my liking.
The restaurant doesn’t take reservations and given the tiny size and the recent publicity, I would recommend showing up early (we did around 5:30 p.m. and had no trouble getting seated immediately). There are concise wine and beer selections, and I feel the restaurant could source more red wines that can nicely complement the meat-centric meal. The vibe of the restaurant is that of a casual neighborhood joint where you can just come by for quick bites if you want without much judgment from the service staffs. White Gold Butchers is a welcome addition to Upper West Side dining scene. I certainly hope the pork shank stays on my next visit.
- Creativity: 7.5/10
- Execution: 8.5/10
- Ingredients: 8.5/10
- Flavor: 8.0/10
- Texture: 8.5/10
Address: 375 Amsterdam Avenue, New York, NY 10024
Telephone: (212) 362-8731