You know, I complain when there are too many sweet national food holidays and not enough savory days…but when we do get a savory holiday, like National Roast Leg of Lamb Day, damn, is it good. A roast leg of lamb is exactly what it sounds like: an entire leg of a lamb or sheep, roasted with fresh herbs and cooked for hours in a slow-heating oven to make a rich, flavorful meal for a large family. Roasting meat gives it a dark golden appearance on the exterior, with a crispy skin that’s usually encrusted with herbs and spices, while the meat inside is juicy and tender. Today is obviously not for vegans or the faint of heart: today is for those foodies who want to sink their teeth into a big hunk of roasted lamb!
If you’ve got the moolah to shell out for National Roast Leg Of Lamb Day, Riverpark along the East River has your quintessential lamb entree to fulfill your wildest lamb desires. Chef Tom Colicchio of Top Chef fame (I think you should realize by now that I love Top Chef!) has really gone all-out with Riverpark, where the menu meets (and may even surpass) the great waterfront view of the East River. All of Riverpark’s ingredients are locally sourced and super fresh, some even coming straight from the garden up on the roof! While there isn’t a sheep enclosure on the roof as well, the leg of lamb is incredibly fresh, roasted to perfection along with Swiss chard, homegrown eggplant, and capers. If it’s warm enough tonight, ask for your table out on the patio and enjoy the river breeze along with your environmentally-and-economically conscious –as well as delicious–meal.
450 E 29th St
“They can plan the menu around their own garden, rather than by what’s available at the greenmarket. For instance, Riverpark’s hallmark roasted leg of lamb comes with homegrown Swiss chard, eggplant and oregano, paired with pinenuts, capers and raisins.”–A Garden Life
“Riverpark’s own farm, adjacent to the outdoor patio, ensures that ingredients are fresh and seasonal. Entrées such as the five spice chicken and roasted leg of lamb pair well with a Merlot — sophisticated comfort food ideal on a rainy night.”–Gayot.com
Some reviews from yelp.com:
“Moving on, I ordered the Roasted Leg of Lamb as my main course. We waited quite a while for our entrees. Not for lack of attention by our waiter. It just seems the kitchen is a tad slow. Fortunately, though it took some time to come out, the lamb was delicious! Accompanied by swiss chard, pinenuts, capers, golden raisins, eggplant and oregano, I was very pleased. The meat was soft and juicy. Had I not started with the soup, I’m not sure the portion size would have been adequate. But with an appetizer, you’ll have plenty of food. We also ordered a side of pole beans for the table. Picked directly from Riverpark’s own garden, they were good and very fresh.”–Shira D.
“For the main course we ordered the arctic char, berkshire pork chop, Roasted leg of lamb and squid ink chitarra. The arctic char was perfectly cooked and my favorite of the bunch. The roasted leg of lamb was super tender and flavorful and my second favorite.”–Katherine K.
Of course, not everyone can afford to just zip over to one of the best views in Manhattan for a $35 entree in a high-class restaurant. You can still celebrate National Roast Leg Of Lamb Day for half the price if you head to the outer boroughs and broaden your culinary horizons. For only $18 you can drop by the Middle Eastern enclave of Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn and get a huge portion of haneez, or Yemeni roast lamb. The aptly named Yemen Cafe has been serving delicious, authentic food for years now, and haneez (as they state on their menu) is their most popular dish. Served on a bed of rice with stewed potatoes and carrots, the lamb is still juicy and flavorful, the slow-roasting techniques of generations of Yemeni chefs cooked right into the meat. It nearly falls off the bone and tastes heavily from the cilantro and other spices used to season the lamb. And the entree platter also comes with complimentary lamb broth soup, traditional Yemeni flatbread, and an aggressive hospitality most newcomers aren’t all that accustomed to. Don’t assume that the waitstaff dislike you if they don’t provide small talk when they’re serving you: curt yet extremely efficient service appears to be the norm at Yemen Cafe, and while it may be off-putting at first, you’ll completely forget about it once your meal comes to the table and you get to dig into the moist, delicious lamb.
176 Atlantic Ave (between Clinton St & Court St)
“Each meal begins with a complimentary bowl of rich, salty lamb broth, and nearly every table shows someone who has ordered the plain but gloriously tender slabs of roast lamb and rice. Although Yemen is in the Middle East, pita and tabbouleh don’t prevail. Instead, the giant flatbreads that accompany the hearty grub are naan-like, puffy and doughy.”–New York Magazine
Some reviews from Yelp.com:
“My Mom ordered their most famous dish, the Haneez. Her leg of lamb was slow roasted to the point where the meat fell away from the bone without her needing to use her knife. Days after we had dined here, she remarked that the dish was still on her mind.”–Camille M.
“If you are fond of lamb, then I would highly recommend order the Haneez at Yemen Cafe. It is out of this world! The meat falls right off the bone and has a delicious taste to it. The soup, salad, and bread are also excellent! If only Yemen Cafe was closer to where I live, I would be visiting it more often.”–Rivan M.
Make sure you check out the updated NYC Food Holidays Map to find this most recent holiday!