These decadent dishes are not for the sheepish.
Prince Charles formed the Mutton Renaissance Club to encourage the consumption of his favorite meat. If he had his way, the U.S. would follow suit. Mutton is the meat of a sheep that’s at least two years old while lamb is from a much younger sheep. Mutton’s piquant, gamey flavor is enough to scare off the family dog, but the lean, juicy flesh of lamb is tender and savory with a subtle earthiness. Choosing mutton over lamb is a bit like picking Camilla Parker Bowles over Princess Diana.
If You’re a Chosen One
Before Zahav (237 St. James Place, 215.625.8800) opened, the culinary crew took a trip to Israel to bring back some gastronomic gold from the land of milk and honey. A drizzle of harissa enhances their play on tartar kibbe naya, delicate raw lamb and allspice. The playful fried kibbe with tahini is lamb two ways, initially mixed with bulgur wheat as a breading, then applied to the outside of a ground lamb and pine nut mixture and fried like a lamb falafel. We profit from their pilgrimage. W 2
If You Do Double Time
We don’t usually double up on restaurants but the whole roasted lamb shoulder at Zahav is so good it deserves its own paragraph. After brining for two days, the shoulder roasts over smoldering coals and then braises for hours in pomegranate juice to produce a melt-in-your-mouth, slap-your-mother-for-another-bite taste and consistency. The lamb is then fired in the oven to allow the sugars to caramelize and create a crispy lacquered exterior. W 2
If You’ve Got the Right Stuff
The proprietors of Fork (306 Market St. 215.625.9425) recently brought in heavy-hitter chef Terence Feury to take the reins of the American bistro. His exceptional skill and training is evident in the lamb belly confit that dissolves on the tongue but contrasts nicely with the crisp, baconlike skin. The dish is served with baby artichoke hearts, shaved lamb’s tongue and black olive jus. Stick a fork in us, ’cuz we’re done. W 2
If You Wine and Dine
When asked, the servers at Graduate Hospital’s wine bar and restaurant Meritage (500 S. 20th St. 215.985.0455) will help you pair your grilled lollipop lamb chops over an arugula salad with roasted red peppers, olives, hearts of pal and sauteed red onion with the perfect wine. But if you ask us, a Bordeaux, the original French version of the restaurant’s namesake, will do just fine. W C 2
If You Liked Slumdog
At Bindi (105 S. 13th St. 215.922.6061) you won’t need a third eye of wisdom to know you’ll want an extra side of cucumber yogurt sauce raita when you order the lamb keema. Your tingling tongue will make it clear after a single sample of the fig-stuffed lamb meatballs in a spicy curry broth garnished with sliced almonds and served in a tiny cast-iron pot. In the immortal words of John Cougar Mellencamp: “it hurt so good.” B 2
If You Like a Little Suspense