Going Whole Hog


The Diner burger, one of the most popular items on its menu, is sourced from grass-fed beef that has been butchered in-house.  Photo: Kara Zuaro

Note: Originally published in January 2008

Diner is now serving monstrous, prime steaks they dry-age themselves. That’s right—Diner, the restaurant practically across the street from the most famous steakhouse in the city, has also begun doing Porterhouses for two, four, sometimes six, along with bone-in rib-eyes and T-Bones, cooked to order and slathered with marrow butter. They can do this because their in-house butcher takes a whole, grass-fed cow —1,000 pounds of beef — and provides the chefs at Marlow and Sons and Diner the means to make creative use of all that fresh, locally-raised meat, whether it becomes marrow toast, French Dip sandwiches, tortellini en broto, steaks, or hamburgers.

“What happened,” says co-owner Andrew Tarlow, “is that when we switched over to local, grass-fed meats about a year ago, that did not allow us to afford rib-eyes, hangers or any prime cuts whatsoever.”

So they literally went whole hog last year, after Tom Mylan completed his apprenticeship at Fleisher’s Meats upstate, and became the resident butcher. In November he went to work on whole pigs for the restaurants, including Tarlow and Mark Firth’s other baby, Bonita, where I tasted the most incredible Mexican meatballs, Albondigas, and placed a call to get the recipe (here).

When I discovered that cows had recently begun getting the head-to-tail treatment too, I tried one of these Porterhouses myself. It arrived on the medium side of medium rare — those who like it bloody, be clear — but it was still deliciously charred and tender, with a superior, clean taste and none of the guilt that comes from eating feedlot beef.

Weekends are your best bet to find steaks on Diner’s menu, but because this is still a boutique operation, there’s no guarantee, even if you call ahead, that it will last till you arrive.

If so, try the burger instead. Says Tarlow, whose enthusiasm for them has petered out over the years, “I’ve actually started eating them again because they’re so ridiculously good.”

Diner, 85 Broadway, 718-486-3077, Dinernyc.com


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