Bone Marrow, birthdays, & basement tables

We were going to visit my sister for her birthday. She lives just a train ride away from New York City, and she knew exactly where she wanted to go – Prune. We perused the menu online to have a game plan ready. And there it was in the appetizers list – “Roasted Marrow Bones, parsley salad, sea salt.”

“I’m going to eat that,” declared my then-boyfriend.

photo by flickr user kthread

The menu at Prune can do that to a person. It’s small but intriguing, a selective list of simple things (fennel in butter) prepared with a discerning palate (fennel with Trout Roe prepared in Pernod butter). Overall, it gives one the feeling that the chef respects the ingredients and wants you to have a meal that revels in its own simplicity — a simplicity that’s not lazy, but comes from thoughtfulness and enjoyment, and might possibly give you a food option that you’d never considered before in your life, like bone marrow or Spatchcocked Spaetzle.

Like many restaurants in New York, Prune’s space is small, and we were put in a little booth in the basement, almost underneath the steps. I know this sounds weird, but it was a light and cozy space to linger over our meal and toast the birthday girl.


Gabrielle Hamilton & Debi Mazar at the South Beach Food & Wine Festival. photo courtesy of AP images


If the reviews are to be trusted, Gabrielle Hamilton’s writing is much like her menu and her restaurant – fresh, inviting, and down-to-earth.  In a New York Times profile of her she says that:

“‘I wrote a book in a way that I would like more people to write books,’ Ms. Hamilton said. ‘I’m not afraid of the real truth. There is nothing you can tell me about yourself that is going to make me clutch my pearls.’

On the page and in the kitchen, Ms. Hamilton can be charming, tempestuous, persnickety, vulgar, poetic, provocative and mothering, sometimes all in the course of a single flurry of sentences. Whatever scars she has, she is not inclined to cover them.”

Right on! It sounds like this is a memoir to match Anthony Bourdain or Ruth Reichl.

I have my copy of Blood, Bones, and Butter on hold and can’t wait to read and discuss it over another example of food that’s both simple and complex: barbecue.

See you at Union Pig and Chicken!


More Gabrielle Hamilton coverage:

Her Daily Diet at Grub Street (NYMag)

Her Baked Eggplant recipe at Bon Appetit