Nose To Tail Dining: What it Means and Restaurants that Do it Right
Trends may come and go but nose-to-tail is one we hope will stick around. In this day and age, it is now more imperative than ever to eat ethically. Added to that, it’s also easier than ever to do it. Adopting a nose-to-tail method of eating not only means you’re consuming more consciously, but you’re also opening your world up to exciting meat dishes that extend beyond fillet.
So, what is Nose-to-tail dining exactly?
It’s essentially using up the whole animal carcass, from the literal nose to the literal tail and everything in between. This means using secondary cuts such tri-tip, short ribs and spider steaks, which may not be that popular but are as delicious (if not more) than their well-known primary cut counterparts. The 5th quarter, also referred to as offal also includes all the bits that might make you squeamish, like hearts, necks, liver, kidneys, glands and brains – all delicious when done right by the way!
Nose to tail also means using the tougher cuts in braises or stews, and then popping the bones into stock, eking out every last scrap of flavour. If this sounds scary, it’s not, just make sure you have a good butcher you can call to ask about these cuts. If you’re not quite ready to cook for yourself, get yourself down to these restaurants in Cape Town to experience some expertly cooked nose-to-tail action.
Nose-to-Tail Dining in Cape Town
Having learned from the grand-pere of nose-to-tail himself, Fergus Henderson, you can only expect great things from Giles Edwards’ La Tête. Giles worked at St. John in London for 10 years before opening up La Tête and his dedication to his craft truly comes through in his food.
Giles is a master of secondary cuts, with his menu featuring chicken livers, ox heart, pig’s cheeks and even kidneys. If you follow him on Instagram, you’re able to see just how every scrap of the animal gets used up. This presentation of ‘scary’ ingredients is handled delicately and deliciously, and after a meal at La Tête, you’ll be wondering why you don’t eat more sweetbreads. Read our Q&A with Giles.
Ash Heeger is no stranger to the nose-to-tail scene and isn’t scared to use the lesser known (or loved) secondary cuts of meat either. She’s known for putting everything from Deep-fried Chicken Hearts to Pig’s Head Croquettes on her menu. It also goes without saying that if you want to experience nose-to-tail dishes in a non-scary environment then get yourself down to ASH now.
Chris Erasmus is the champion of local, often foraged, ingredients that shine brightly in his menus and his philosophy towards meat is of a similar ilk. It’s tricky to say exactly what is on Foliage’s menu because it changes as things become available, but he makes use of the whole beast when it comes in and includes varied cooking techniques to ensure not a scrap is left over.
One thing you can count on, however, is that the menu is always an exciting play on South Africa cuisine with plenty of unusual locally foraged ingredients, one that you can enjoy surrounded by the idyllic Franschhoek mountains.
Spek en Bone, Overture, or any Bertus Basson restaurant
Bertus Basson seems to have adopted a ‘catch-me-if-you-can’ approach these days, opening restaurants faster than we can count. Regardless though, his ethos hasn’t changed one bit. He wants local, honest food to be the hero of his menus and makes use of interesting, lesser-known cuts of meat to do just that.
Overture has been known to serve an old-school cool farm style terrine and you can almost certainly expect to some kind of superbly cooked offal (mostly kidneys) on there too.
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