2000s Archive

Meat Rules

Corn Exchange

At The Corn Exchange, chef M. J. Adams has transformed Great Plains ingredients into dishes with international flair.


Bonnell’s Fine Texas Cuisine

Chef Jon Bonnell’s idea of cooking close to home extends way beyond his carefully sourced herbs, greens, and vegetables; here, even the proteins are Texas-bred. Hill Country game (venison, antelope, and quail) give the menu a manly swagger, as does pastured beef, which appears as a mighty, bone-in rib eye, tasting of the long-lost open range. Must-haves on the Mexican- and Creole-inflected menu include satiny venison carpaccio and a do-it-yourself “bruschetta” of crisp tortilla triangles accompanied by a bright avocado and pecan relish, goat cheese from a neighboring farmstead, and the caramelized 1015 onions of which the Rio Grande Valley is justifiably proud. 4259 Bryant Irvin Rd., Fort Worth, TX (817-738-5489)

The Corn Exchange

When M. J. Adams moved to South Dakota to be near family, she wanted to bring good food to the land of chain restaurants. Locals were inquisitive about what she was up to and soon warmed to her talent for transforming Great Plains ingredients into dishes with international flair. Now both tourists bound for Mount Rushmore and locals from Spearfish and Deadwood clamor for Adams’s bison Bolognese, pheasant terrine with heirloom pickled pears, and smoked rainbow trout with sweet corn pancakes. 727 Main St., Rapid City, SD (605-343-5070)

L & M’s Kitchen and Salumeria

Chef and co-owner Dan Latham knows perfectly well that the hill country of Mississippi is a long way from the hill country of Italy. But he manages a marriage of the two at his just-off-the-courthouse-square restaurant (and onetime garage) in the college town of Oxford. Bright oils, some of fabled southern writers, grace the walls. The salumi—house-made finocchiona, coppa, pancetta—owe an obvious debt to Italy, but the lunchtime special of creamed white beans, roasted butternut squash, and guanciale-stewed collards pays homage to his grandparents’ simple home cooking. 309-C N. Lamar Blvd., Oxford, MS (662-238-7780)

The Linkery

If knowing that your Hampshire or Berkshire breed pigs are pastured makes chowing down on handcrafted sausages a guiltless pleasure, The Linkery is the place to indulge. The folks behind this unique, casual spot believe in “meeting your meal.” They list all their food sources on the menu and profile farmers and artisans on their blog. You may find wild Mexican bluefin with heirloom tomato salsa, or pulled pork (smoked over Santa Maria red oak) piled onto a jalapeño cheddar roll with house-made barbecue sauce. 3382 30th St., San Diego (619-255-8778)

Pirogue Grille

North Dakotans don’t much cotton to trends, crazes, or other such nonsense. So when chef Stuart Tracy opened Pirogue Grille in Bismarck in 2005, it was something of a referendum on whether local foods could succeed in the fad-phobic heartland. The answer? A resounding yes: Locals and power players from the state capital have made this elegant spot their first choice for meals springing from the High Plains. You can’t go wrong when you choose red meat here—the sausage is made from locally raised venison, the bison medallions are tender but bursting with flavor, and, of course, there’s the steak. It’s grass-pastured and offers the unmistakable spring-meadow fragrance of our vast northern prairie. 121 N. 4th St., Bismarck, ND (701-223-3770)

Route 7 Grill

Route 7 Grill is not the kind of restaurant that prints the chef’s name on the menu. It’s a big barn of a place serving barbecue, burgers, and fried chicken—hearty, simple stuff. What sets it apart is that most of its meat comes from local farmers, as do most of its vegetables. “This,” says owner Lester Blumenthal, “is the bridge between the small farm and the common guy’s mouth.” 999 Main St., Great Barrington, MA (413-528-3235)

Watermark Restaurant

The bread basket here is, in a gambler’s parlance, the tell. No pistolete here. At this swank skyline-view restaurant in Nashville’s rapidly gentrifying Gulch neighborhood, chef Sean Norton and his crew bake angel biscuits and corn sticks; the latter are perfect for sopping up the black-eyed-pea broth that naps a dish of braised rabbit. Or the braised pork belly with chowchow, which, by the way, pairs beautifully with a glass of Riesling. 507 12th Ave. S., Nashville (615-254-2000)

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