A Firecracker of a Beef Rib and Other Surprises at Ferris


Nothing at Ferris makes heads swivel and nostrils twitch in quite the same way, but if it’s a table-annexing feast you want, then the côte de boeuf with “all the fixings” is the dish for you.

Mr. Proechel has his own notions about “fixings.” I have never looked at a grilled beef rib and thought that what it really needed was a bowl of whipped buttermilk, but apparently he has, and I have to give him credit. Beating the buttermilk turns it into something between yogurt and whipped cream; mixing that with charred cipollini makes it into a particularly luxurious onion dip. There’s also a paste of black garlic to serve as a super-concentrated steak sauce, and a shaved brussels sprout salad for relief from the richness. The only false move here was the sodden dumplings in broth, and they were easy enough to ignore in all the excitement.

The danger of putting a firecracker like that on the menu is that the half of the dining room that didn’t order it ends up staring glumly at the half that did. That was me, one night, looking at the women at the corner table who doted on their steak for an hour while I poked at my (perfectly all right) cod with clams and hazelnuts.

When you are ready for something to drink with the côte de boeuf, you run into another surprise of this Swiss Army knife of a restaurant: the versatile wine list, overseen by Jenny Lakin. It’s not long, and it draws mainly from France and Italy, but it’s been carefully drafted to include relative values from expensive regions and out-and-out values from less traveled areas.

Ferris doesn’t knock itself out for the dessert course. The few sweets are simple and pleasant, though, from the yuzu-lemon frozen yogurt to a dark chocolate mousse stuck with chips of jasmine meringue.

Ms. Lakin’s list carries over into dessert territory with amari, absinthes, liqueurs, eaux-de-vie and other end-of-the-night shots. Where all these bottles are stored I never figured out.

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