A white table-clothed restaurant or a fancy chef-driven tasting menu featuring foie gras? Few would bat an eye at such menus. But in three years time, this prized ingredient most common at higher end restaurants, could be a thing of the past. (You’d be hard-pressed to find it on our EAT List of the best restaurants in NYC.)
Yesterday, the New York City Council passed a bill to ban foie gras beginning in 2022. Supporters of the legislation argue the production of the ingredient—ducks and geese are force fed so their livers are fattened—is inhumane.
“As a lifelong advocate for animal rights, I am excited that the council has voted to pass this historic legislation to ban the sale of these specific force-fed animal products," says Carlina Rivera, the councilwoman who sponsored the bill, in an emailed statement to Time Out. "Let’s be clear that force feeding is an inhumane practice, plain and simple. Hundreds of veterinarians testified or submitted testimony acknowledging this fact at our hearing on the bill, with the only veterinarian claiming that foie gras was humane turning out to be a paid consultant for foie gras producers. But we also acknowledge that farms need time to adapt their business practices and strategies before this ban goes into effect. That’s why there is now a three year phase-in for the legislation that will allow these farms, which produce a wide variety of other duck products, to increase production and develop business opportunities in other regions and states."
The ban has been met with supporters who feel this is a long time coming, while others argue it could hurt the livelihoods of farmers.
“New York City's ban is perplexing, unfortunate and misplaced and effectively wipes out rural livelihoods and an agricultural practice that has only raised the bar on animal husbandry over the last decade,” according to a newsletter from the team at M.Wells, the Long Island City restaurant known for serving rich, Montreal-inspired fare heavy on protein. Other opponents of the legislation also believe the process can be cruelty-free toward animals.
No matter where you stand on the issue, foie gras is often viewed as an ingredient consumed by the elite (or at least those who can afford it) at fine-dining restaurants. Others have argued there are bigger issues to tackle than this legislation.
“Why any thought is given to this issue while there are homeless veterans, hungry children and people who have to choose between rent and medicine, I will never understand?” asks Kevin Adey, the chef-owner of Faro in Bushwick, which does feature foie on the menu.
We reached out to the city council but haven’t received any comments.
Time will tell if the ban will face legal hurdles before it’s enacted, but for the time being, you can still find foie gras at these menus across the city:
It’s no surprise to find foie gras on the menu at Tocqueville, a 20-year-old restaurant which recently reopened after renovations. The French-American menu under Executive Chef Marco Moreira includes an appetizer of house-cured terrine of Hudson Valley foie gras with fruit chutney and a poached fig. There’s also a surf-and-turf play with seared day boat scallops paired with the foie. 1 E. 15th St.
For meat eaters, tofu may be often treated like a panacea for vegetarians and vegans, but in Chinese cooking, it’s not uncommon for proteins to be incorporated with the soy-based ingredient. Here, the tofu is steamed and adorned with nubs of foie gras. 266 Canal St.
Ai Fiori at The Langham Hotel, New York
Ai Fiori’s preparation doesn’t get much more classic: Hudson Valley foie gras is seared and then served with sweet fig compote, crunchy hazelnuts and a rich port reduction that’s served with a house-made brioche. It’s available at lunch and dinner. 400 Fifth Ave.
This Bushwick gem focuses on serving handmade pastas using local grains. But the seasonal American menu also features duck liver foie gras with cherry verjus, yogurt and carta di musica (pair with a glass from the extensive natural wine selection). Chef-owner Kevin Adey, who sources sustainably-raised meats, and believes in nose-to-tail dining, wastes no parts of the animal when possible. 436 Jefferson St., Brooklyn
Charlie Palmer’s Aureole, a staple of the Upper East Side for years before it moved to Times Square in 2009, offers a New American menu where there’s a strong influence in French cooking techniques. The result? Dishes such as an expertly-executed foie gras terrine with a huckleberry compete you’ll want to slather on toasted brioche. 135 W. 42nd St.
Executive Chef Bogdan Danila's English Rose looks like it could be a dessert but it’s actually a blend of chicken liver and foie gras parfait with bittersweet chocolate, stout, pickled mushrooms and pumpkin. Hudson Yards
Beauty & Essex
The high-low menu at Beauty & Essex is a hallmark of Chef Chris Santos’s cooking at this perennial favorite on the Lower East Side. A seemingly humble recipe for beef Wellington features prime filet mignon, foie gras mousse and mushroom duxelle inside a dome of puff pastry surrounded by a truffle bordelaise sauce. 146 Essex St.
Foie gras is usually so rich that it’s often a standalone dish or used sparingly as a garnish. Chef-owner Jared Sippel plates this impressive large-format dish featuring Fazio Farms duck with the breast meat, a confit leg and silky foie gras on a fig leaf. Then more shredded duck is served atop crisp crostino with porcini conserva and figs. 19 W. 24th St.
Since 1837, this Fidi fine dining restaurant has always turned toward rich, French-inspired cuisine. (It’s said that baked Alaska and lobster Newburg were invented here.) An impressive Hudson Valley foie gras flambé is paired with blueberries, celery and fennel. 56 Beaver St.