Every week, I document another dish that impressed and satiated me during my food adventures around New York City

When I talk about falafel, I usually say if I was forced into becoming a vegetarian, this is the food I would eat all the time. But I realize that is a false statement. As much as I love falafel, I would end up being even healthier. Because my vegetarian food of choice would almost always be mushrooms.

It’s funny too because as a kid I couldn’t even stand the sight of mushrooms. Granted, I was only exposed to the soft bland white button mushrooms. As an adult, I’ve had the opportunity to try all sorts of wild mushrooms from chanterelles to porcini to morels. And I’ll take any one of them, especially when a chef knows how to bring out their delicate flavors.

And Chef Luis Jaramillo from Fifty seems to certainly know what he’s doing.

Fifty is a somewhat under-the-radar modern American restaurant deep in the quaint nooks and cranies of the West Village. The chef is from Ecuador and puts some unique spins on a few of the dishes. He’s certainly not afraid of flavor. That was obvious in the chimichurri sauce that accompanied the hanger steak and the cilantro aioli that brightened up the charred octopus.

But he got very smart when it came to the maitake mushrooms because he didn’t mess with them too much. Thanks to some butter, salt, and a few other rich inventive ingredients, he let the mushrooms sing on their own.

The meaty earth candy was nestled under some watercress and above a rich aromatic celery root-truffle puree. The only other addition was some sweet sliced grapes that acted as a foil to all the earthy richness on the plate.

But it was the chef’s deft hand with the mushrooms themselves that left a lasting impression. Each bite was crisp and tender leaving a lasting woodsy buttery flavor on my lips.

Amazingly, when wild meaty mushrooms are prepared properly, I start to contemplate the idea of actually becoming a vegetarian. Price: $16

FIFTY
50 Commerce Street (between Barrow and Bedford Street),
West Village
(212) 524-4104
fiftyrestaurantnyc.com
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About the Author

Brian Hoffman is a classically trained actor who is now a full-time tour guide, blogger, and food obsessive. He leads food and drink tours around New York City, which not only introduce tour-goers to delicious food, but gives them a historical context. He also writes food articles for Gothamist and Midtown Lunch in addition to overseeing this blog and a few food video series, including Eat This, Locals Know, and Around the World in One City.

One Response to DISH OF THE WEEK: Maitake Mushrooms at FIFTY

  1. Ttrockwood says:

    !!!
    I am vegetarian and absolutely passionate about mushrooms – this sounds divine! Maitake are one of my most favorites too. I buy tons of them when i find them in chinatown and prepare them every which way. If you haven’t been to Beyond Sushi then go and get their mushroom roll sushi or the mushroom dumplings. I get one or the other for lunch at least once a week

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