Zabuton. When I saw a dish by that name on Grange’s menu recently, I almost passed it by, figuring it for some sort of fish. But when the server came to take our order, my curiosity got the better of me, and I asked about it. Turns out it’s beef—and absolutely delicious. Chef Oliver Ridgeway sears the chuck tail flap—a tough, cushion-shaped cut located near the short ribs—in a mix of spices, smokes it, then braises it in red wine with chilies and coffee. The result: a tender, intensely flavored piece of meat that Ridgeway compares to a supertender short rib, with the flavor profile of Mexican barbacoa. He serves it on polenta or creamed corn, garnished with pickled shallots, cilantro, paper-thin radish slices and shaved Fresno chilies and jalapenos. The dish gets its unusual name from the Japanese word for cushion.
Ridgeway served zabuton last year while cooking at Saveur magazine’s New York offices, where it was a big hit; it got him named to the magazine’s “Saveur 100” list of the country’s top chefs, restaurants and food trends. Now, despite Grange’s constantly changing seasonal menu, the dish is not going anywhere. Says Ridgeway, “It’s a mainstay on the menu.”