Despite earlier setbacks Funny Nurse and I recently finally made it to Prime Meats (albeit with quite a wait…more on that later) for more than just chitchat with the maitre’d. But first, FN and I donned our best drag makeup and headed over to Clover Club for a cocktail, as it was just past 5pm. Clover Club was, as usual, not that crowded.
The waiter asked if we’d like to sit at one of the many tables at the front, which was swarming with – you guessed it – yuppie spawn.
FN took one look at that hot mess and quickly gestured our waiter to take us towards the back. We were not yet out of earshot when she proclaimed, “maybe something with a little less…baby.” He seemed to agree and took us into the back room, which is separated from the rest of the establishment by a velvet curtain. I’ve never actually been back there, so it was a surprise to find a quaint vintage marble table with two antique armchairs nestled next to a working fireplace.
We ordered our booze (she an Improved Whiskey Cocktail and I an Uncle Buck, seen here). The candied ginger really hit the spot. We finished up in no time and headed down to Prime Meats, where we expected to wait. And wait we did. Still no later than 6pm, the wait was somewhere between one to one and a half hours…for some reason. Maybe the maitre’d had heard it numerous times before, but we were prepared to wait no matter what. So it was a little annoying that he didn’t even ask for our names. There was a brief pause before I politely asked, “well would you like to put our names down?” Reservations? No, they don’t take them. Credit cards? No, they don’t take them. It’s not like the two Frankie’s don’t already have an empire of restaurants and/or that they’re never busy and thus can’t afford the credit card transaction fees; the opposite is true. It makes no sense.
In any case, we waited at the bar, which has neither stools nor enough room for the people constantly scooting behind you on their way to the bathroom. After what seemed like an eternity, we were finally seated all the way in the back, nestled between the kitchen entrance and an older couple that we guessed were somewhere in between their second and seventh date. Cute.
We started with a head cheese terrine special, some landjaeger, and a plate of oysters (whose origin escapes me for the moment). The terrine was fucking fantastic; it melded multiple flavors and textures into one gooey meaty bite, provided of course that you were able to expertly cut and place a mound onto the toast bites (which were kind of necessary, actually). We were confused by the single steamed (braised? boiled?) leak piece coating the outside of the terrine. It didn’t adhere to the head cheese, and indeed it didn’t seem to fit the flavors, but oh well. Actually, it reminded me a little bit of seaweed coating a sushi roll, which was disturbing.
The landjaeger was perfect, and I can only assume it was made in house or at least sourced locally. For $3 a piece it’s not cheap, but on the other hand 1-2 pieces are enough for two people. It was accompanied by what seemed to be fresh sauerkraut and mustard. Oma would be proud.
The oysters were probably the best appetizer we ordered, though as FN put it, “but God made these,” which is true. They were a bit briny, which we were warned about, so the condiments were all but necessary. Otherwise it was just kind of like a lot of oceany coldness swimming around in your mouth. Unless you’re into that sort of thing.
Moving on to the main course, FN’s braised pork belly was predictably amazing and my skate with broccoli rabe was also well made, if somewhat expected. Actually, the broccoli rabe was kind of the best part; it’s hard to mess up skate when you slather it in butter, lemon, and white wine. In fact that preparation is more or less predictable at this point. A hint of lemon? How sophisticated! I will say, though that the flesh was rather moist.
In the case of the pork belly, it’s getting to the point where I would be surprised if a braised pork belly didn’tcome to my table and completely blow me away. Obviously, that’s no criticism of Prime Meats; I just happened to have had pork belly a lot recently, and in all instances it was great. It’s what it is.
I guess what I’m getting at is that for Prime Meats to justify all of the inconveniences (cash only, no reservations, ever-present waits, straight people, etc.) it really needs to be a little more – transcendent. Sure, I appreciate the fact that it’s a Germanic restaurant in a sea of Asian/French/Locavore copycats, and sure it’s great that they adhere to the farm to table ethos; but on the other hand there are so many other amazing places out there that aren’t predisposed to the aforementioned inconveniences.
After eating what amounted to dishes I’ve already had before, I was left feeling a little…unimpressed. Still, we’ll probably go back in a year so.