Bone marrow has begun to pop up on restaurant appetizer menus all over town. If you haven't tried it yet, do yourself a favor and order it next time you see it. If you have, you know the rich, buttery flavor and smooth texture is unlike any other you've had before. As a dish, it's typically paired with crostini and a sweet component, while the bone itself, usually lamb or cow, is halved and roasted. Two of our favorite and very similar takes on the dish in town at Searsucker and Pig & Pickle duke it out to see whose marrow is the most luxe.
In This Corner: Searsucker
The Setup: Old Town Scottsdale was definitely buzzing when Chef Brian Malarkey's Searsucker came to the northwest corner of Goldwater Boulevard and Camelback Road. The menu, like the décor, is somehow both relaxed and upscale all at once. The service is definitely some of the most attentive in town. You can order kobe carpaccio, pork belly, squid, foie gras, quail and a host of other ingredients of the moment.
The Good: The serving at Searsucker is definitely generous. At $13 per plate, you get a totally sharable, yet still satisfying, portion of marrow served with onion jam and crostini. Each bite has the perfect amount of seasoning, with some portions more sweet with onion jam and others more savory with a sprinkle of sea salt. The roast on the marrow itself makes a delicately crispy outer layer with silky marrow underneath. It's the kind of ridiculously opulent dish you want to eat all day, every day.
The Bad: Though we love the rich flavor bone marrow has, we know that it is pretty much the throw-away part of the butchering process. It's sold dirt cheap. While the execution of Searsucker's bone marrow was spot on, we think the price could have been cheaper for what it is.
In The Other Corner: Pig & Pickle
The Setup: Just off the Old Town path, the folks over at Pig & Pickle have made a name for themselves making luscious eats in a dressed down, casual atmosphere. Stripping off food's pretension, Pig & Pickle leaves you with the meat of a good restaurant -- clean, comfortable digs, helpful service, good drink and excellent food. Set aside your frills and get ready to eat.
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SHOW ME HOW
The Good: Doing what Pig & Pickle does best, the buttery marrow pairs with sweet onion and raisin jam and vinegary pickled onions. While you have to do a bit of digging to combine every component, getting that perfect bite is worth the effort involved. Probably the best part of P&P's marrow app isn't even the marrow itself, but the pickled onions on the side. Next time we drop in, we're just going to ask for a jar of those salty, tart onions to take home because they definitely stole the show.
The Bad: Out of the whole dish, the crostini, oddly enough, was the most disappointing part of the dish. The bread reminded us of that grocery store bakery style of baguette -- a little too dressed down to mix well with our marrow. Plus the $8 price and the single half bone serving will have you gnawing on the bone for any marrow remnants. Don't plan on sharing this one if you want to get your fill of the delicious marrow.
And the winner is . . . Searsucker. The entire execution of Searsucker's bone marrow dish was just slightly elevated above P&P. The perfect roasting and adept seasoning made each bite its own, equally important experience. Though we weren't crazy about the $13 price tag that went with it, we get it, and the bone marrow was worth the expense.