If menu trends conformed to fashion trends, there’s no question that bone marrow would be the new black, as indispensable in the kitchen as a little black dress is in the wardrobe. It’s versatile, flatters whatever it accompanies and works well across a wide range of occasions. Bone marrow is definitely what well-dressed menus are wearing this season.
Chefs have made bone marrow the focus of their flights of culinary fancy. At New York’s Beatrice Inn, diners can sup on succulent côte de boeuf with marrow-blistered blackberries and charred prawn butter, followed by an unexpected bone marrow crème brûlée dessert presented in a femur. The Macintosh in Charleston, S.C., features a signature bone marrow bread pudding as a side dish. Meanwhile, San Francisco’s Burritt Room + Tavern creates a decadent and sharable first course of roasted bone marrow with mint, black garlic salsa, radish, bread crumbs and sourdough bread.
Steakhouses make myriad uses of marrow. At Cleveland’s Urban Farmer, bone marrow with maple-mustard thyme is an optional steak topping. At American Cut in New York City and Atlanta, it’s both a topper and an appetizer; the latter is served with sweet onion jam and filone toast. Smith & Wollensky ran a special bone marrow butter-crusted ribeye finished with Madeira demi-glace and garnished with cipollini onions. And C. Ellet’s, a shiny new steak emporium in suburban Atlanta, finishes its White Oak Pastures Steak Tartare with fried capers and bone marrow.
Bone marrow spruces up ethnic menus, too. Hanoi House in New York City suggests adding marrow bone to pho bac, Hanoi-style beef pho made with broth cooked for 16 hours. Cosme is also in New York and dishes up contemporary Mexican-inspired cuisine like uni tostada accented with bone-marrow salsa, avocado and cucumber. The Cookery in Dobbs Ferry, N.Y., specializes in modern Italian offerings like rigatoni with bone marrow, and at Monsieur Benjamin, a French bistro in San Francisco, marrow bones “Blue Ribbon” with bacon marmalade and country bread are on the hors d’oeuvres menu.
Bone marrow has also come roaring into fashion in more casual venues. At trendy Eureka!, a California-based casual-dining chain, the featured bone marrow burger sports bone marrow-porcini butter, charbroiled onion and mustard aioli, while the 86’D burger at Chumley’s in New York City comes with American cheese, bone marrow and crispy shallots.
Dusek’s, a gastropub in Chicago, offers a marrow-y mash up of marrow-crusted New York strip with blistered shishito peppers, sauce soubise and red ver jus. And serious props should go to The Doughnut Project in New York City, which generates buzz and drives traffic with a special sweet-and-savory doughnut that is stuffed with bone marrow-chocolate pastry cream, topped with a bright clementine glaze and available only on Saturdays.
Nancy Kruse, president of the Kruse Company, is a menu trends analyst based in Atlanta and a regular contributor to Restaurant Hospitality. E-mail her at email@example.com.