I ate a lot of bone marrow this past year, and the only dish that really wowed me was the one you see pictured above. It's bacon-crusted bone marrow and it's served with either uni or caviar, depending on the mood of chef John Tesar at his new steakhouse, Knife.
When roasted bone marrow is good, it's really good. It spreads like whipped butter and melts on the palate. Bone marrow is rich, and if any dish out there deserves to use the term unctuous, it's this one. When bone marrow is bad, though, it can be really bad, which happens when it is served at one of two temperature extremes.
Overcooked marrow melts into an oily substance, a lot like fat does. If it doesn't melt away right in the bones, it turns to liquid as you try and spread it on bread, as it did during one of my recent meals at Henry's Majestic. Overcooked marrow arrives at a table like an under-inflated balloon.
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But that's not as bad as undercooked marrow, which plates like a carnal science experiment gone wrong. It's thick, white and gelatinous and makes awkward squishy sounds and you try and scoop it out from the bones. Undercooked marrow is straight-up gross -- an experience that can ruin the most ravenous of marrow fans for years. I had this sort of experience back with I reviewed Tanoshii Ramen and it was hard to get past.
I've had bone marrow countless times in Dallas over the past year, and with the exception of Tesar's Little Mermaid version above, every time I tore into the dish I wondered, "Why the hell am I eating this?"
But bitch as I might, bone marrow is blowing Dallas up, landing on nearly every bistro, tavern and American menu that offers a wide selection of local beer or craft cocktails. Bone marrow is coming out of so many kitchens it eats like a cliché, second to burgers and maybe house made pickles served in a quaint, little jar. Marrow's become slutty; it's lost its allure. And it's time we find something more innovative to serve as a replacement.
Since we're approaching a new year, how about turning those bones into soup, instead? How about simmering them down into a stock or glacé that shows some real culinary sorcery? As it stands all these bone marrow dishes are just demonstrating a lot of sloppy cooking. And if a chef is not willing to watch those bones like a hawk as they sit under the broiler, they really should be removed from the menu.