For diners wishing to experience a whole lot of offal in one sitting, Paradou in the Meatpacking District may be a good option. The tiny French bistro, located right across from Pastis, offers classic bistro fare with some Mediterranean influences. Last Wednesday marked the first installment of their offal-intensive tasting menus, $40 for a 4-course prix fixe, which will continue throughout this month. Bring your appetites; servings are hefty and rich.
Three courses of Nasty Bits, after the jump.
The meal began with a slice of headcheese from a terrine, known to the French as fromage de tête. Made with gently stewed meat from the pig's head combined with its gelatinous juices, the mixture is then molded in a terrine and eaten in slices at room temperature. Paradou's slice of headcheese came with crisp cornichons and dabs of mustard for a contrast to the richness of the terrine. A headcheese consomme completed the plate, adding some welcome moisture to the composition.
Next up, lamb kidneys (pictured at top) came three to a platter—a hefty portion, even for the offal lover. The kidneys themselves were well executed, placed atop a bed of wilted greens. Quickly grilled, with just a bit of char, each kidney was still rosy and tender in the center. The organs were accompanied by what was dubbed a "West African dipping sauce"—essentially a creamy mayonnaise emulsion with a large dose of turmeric.
The third course featured one of my favorite offal parts of all time: sweetbreads, or thymus glands. The slices of veal sweetbreads were moist and fatty, with just a bit of browning on the surface. I would have preferred a little more crust to each section of sweetbread, but the texture of the glands was pleasantly creamy. The basil and chervil puree on the side tasted like more like pesto than potato, and I found myself wishing for a scoop of the good old fashioned mashed kind.
Each three-course offal tasting menu came with dessert. That night, my dining partner and I chose the citrus tart and the meringue. The tart was light and creamy, a refreshing change from the rich servings of offal.