Meat and seafood have been regular plate mates since Neanderthals gnawed on bison and crustacean, but the heyday of modern surf and turf was in the 1960s, when restaurants started rolling out their priciest items—steak and lobster—in an unabashed display of gastro extravagance. Since those indulgent early days, the gleam of surf and turf has dulled, as the duo took up residence on pub daily-special boards and dime-a-dozen chophouse menus. Now restaurants across Gotham are jolting the combo out of its outdated stupor and giving it a desperately needed 21st-century revamp.
At Bâtard (239 West Broadway at White St, 212-219-2777)
, the swank Corton replacement from Drew Nieporent and John Winterman, chef-partner Markus Glocker (Gordon Ramsay at the London) offers two takes on the meat-and-fish model: mild Kusshi oysters crowned with fried pigs’ tails, laid on a peppercorn-studded salt bed; and a standout pastrami-spiced octopus number, winkingly served with grainy Pommery mustard, shredded ham hock and toasty tears of rye bread to evoke the deli-case standard ($55 for two courses, $65 for three, $75 for four). Poulpe
meets pig in the Peninsula Hotel’s dining room, Clement (700 Fifth Ave at 55th St, 212-903-3918)
, where Asiate alum Brandon Kida winds a charred octopus tentacle around succulent slabs of crackle-skinned porcelet ($32), served with dashi-stock-cooked white beans and a tide pool of chimichurri sauce. Hearty cubes of pork belly also stud a seafood stunner at French-accented Beautique (8 W 58th St between Fifth and Sixth Aves, 212-753-1200)
, lending crispy contrast to chef Craig Hopson’s bowl of rich malt-caramel-topped crab flan ($18), while his seared scallops come shellacked with Pollock dollops of foamy foie-gras sabayon and diablo sauce ($32).
For their own bivalve renditions, chef Cedric Tovar (Rosemary’s
) bookends tender scallops with a robust chorizo crust ($28) at Mediterranean tavern Tessa (349 Amsterdam Ave between 76th and 77th Sts, 212-390-1974)
, and at Chelsea Market seafoodery Cull & Pistol (75 Ninth Ave at 15th St, 646-568-1223)
Jean-Georges vet Dave Seigal serves a play on angels on horseback, wrapping Chesapeake fried oysters with salty Surryano ham and serving the bundle atop parsley-and-chive crepes with smoked aioli ($12).
And “fish whisperer” Dave Pasternack makes good on his nickname with the rustic lamb porterhouse at sea-to-table Chelsea trattoria Barchetta (461 W 23rd St between Ninth and Tenth Aves, 212-255-7400)
, lacquering the grilled meat with briny, brawny Sicilian anchovy vinaigrette.
Sorry, Red Lobster—this
is how you surf and turf.