Merguez sausage is the ex-girlfriend of main courses. Every time you order it, you think that it’s going to be different this time; that under that charred exterior lurks a warm, juicy heart of smoky, rich, lamb goodness.
And then you cut into it and you’re back in the same old rut, choking down a mass of dry, crumbly heartache and wondering where the fun went.
But that doesn’t happen at The Vanderbilt, Saul Bolton’s new bistro on what is quickly becoming Brooklyn’s new restaurant row.
Bolton, famous for the pioneering Smith Street white tablecloth place that bears his first name, makes all his sausages in house. But that’s not what transforms his merguez from a pathetic case of ex-sex into a full-on, hot-blooded shower scene with America’s next top model.
Sure, the ingredients are first rate, but Bolton’s merguez is not just great lamb ground up and stuffed into a casing. To help his links retain their moisture, the maestro adds a bit of milk powder into the mix. No, it doesn’t influence the flavor, but the crystals keep the juices where they’re supposed to be: inside the casing, not at the bottom of the grill.
Yes, there are other standout items on Bolton’s menu at The Vanderbilt — including roasted Brussels sprouts with sirachia and sesame seeds; a bright fennel salad that you could literally eat all day; and a fritter of pigs feet (and head) that could cure Hemingway’s hangover — but this merguez is easily the best merguez we’ve ever had.
The Vanderbilt [570 Vanderbilt Ave. at Bergen Street in Prospect Heights, (718) 623-0571].
©2009 Community News Group
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