The dish

Steak tar*tare [tar-TAR]

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A dish of coarsely ground or finely chopped high-quality, raw lean beef that has been seasoned with salt, pepper and herbs.—The New Food Lover’s Companion

While you can make tartare from any type of raw meat or fish, steak, of course, is the classic. A specialty of Francophone Europe—Belgians have a historical proclivity for swapping in horse meat for beef—the best steak tartare is hand-chopped, then mixed tableside to suit your taste. This is how it’s done at West Village speakeasy Employees Only (510 Hudson St between Christopher and W 10 Sts, 212-242-3021), where the traditional condiments—egg yolk, mustard, raw onion, Worcestershire sauce—are supplemented by truffle-scented caperberries and the chef’s own secret-recipe hot sauce. Though a version at Balthazar(80 Spring St between Broadway and Crosby St, 212-965-1414) is premixed in the kitchen, it’s still one of the finest Parisian-style tartares in town. Coarsely chopped and speckled with parsley and capers, it comes with a tart green salad and crisp toasted baguette.But the French don’t have a monopoly on raw-beef concoctions. Pera (303 Madison Ave between 41st and 42nd Sts, 212-878-6301), the midtown Turkish brasserie, offers an outstanding meze featuring a half-dozen hand-molded raw-beef and bulgur-wheat kofta.Partially “cooked” in a lemon-juice bath, the Turkish meatballs are best eaten by hand, wrapped in the accompanying lettuce leaves. Meanwhile, at Sumile Sushi (154 W 13th St between Sixth and Seventh Aves, 212-989-7699), the largely raw-fish menu is complemented by a complex Pan-Asian beef tartare, which combines pickled mustard seeds, Korean chili paste, nori and a tempura-fried egg yolk.—Jay Cheshes

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