Best Offal Dish

Lamb brains with capers and brown butter at Bistro d
518 10th St NW, Washington, DC 20004, (202) 393-5444
Photograph by Darrow Montgomery

There’s offal, and then there’s offal. What I mean is that any chef can put crispy sweetbreads or a seared calf’s liver on the menu and act like he’s getting all Fergus Henderson on us. But it takes real balls—not that you’ll find that on menus anytime soon—to serve up brains in a nation that just doesn’t dig lobes. Bernard Grenier, chef and owner of Bistro d’Oc, has been preparing brains longer than many of you have been eating solid food. He knows all the tricks on how to entice Americans to try his sautéed lamb brains, including that old ploy of listing the entree on the specials menu, where it has an air of rarity. But let me tell you the real reason to try the dish: It’s really spectacular. Following a gentle poaching, the lamb brains are coated in flour and sautéed in butter with shallots and capers. Right at the end, Grenier ladles in a little chicken broth to help mask the butter, which people seem to fear as much as brains. The texture of the finished dish is so creamy the lobes practically melt on your tongue. The butter sauce only accentuates the organ’s creaminess, while the capers add a much-needed sharp note. Trust me, if you didn’t know the source of the main ingredient, you’d swear this was one of the best bistro dishes you’ve ever had.

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