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Thursday, January 23, 2014

The marrow of the matter

Posted By on Thu, Jan 23, 2014 at 4:51 AM

Table 28s bone marrow
  • Table 28's bone marrow

Few dining experiences are as primal or as close to our neanderthalistic roots as sucking the marrow right out of another animal’s femur. Of course, today this all takes place in a slightly more civilized manner than may have occurred with our prehistoric predecessors. But now, bone marrow has found its way onto high-end menus across the country as a growing number of diners are discovering the pleasure to be found inside the bones of our beefy friends.

For some time, bone marrow was a rather difficult thing to find in Little Rock. But now, thanks to Scott Rains, the man behind the menu at Table 28, we may all enjoy this delicacy in central Arkansas. Here it’s presented in all its sumptuous splendor—it’s a small adventure every food lover should experience at some point in their lives.

Bone marrow, as you may already be aware, is actually not nearly as creepy as you may think. In truth, the majority of what you’ll find inside the shaft of a cow’s femur is fat—unctuous, gelatinous, flavorful fat. And really, you’ve all almost undoubtedly eaten some flecks of bone marrow in the past, as most decent stocks are made from simmering bones over a long period of time in a seasoned broth. This process leaches out the fat and other flavorful bits from the bone, creating a hearty, rich liquid.

Table 28’s marrow preparation is a fairly standard one, but it’s done properly and with care. The bones are split lengthwise, and cut into approximately 8 -10 inch sections. These are then seasoned with Himalayan sea salt and slow roasted in the oven until the marrow congeals slightly, firming up, and browning just slightly on top. After the bones come out of the oven, Rains spreads a layer of onion marmalade over top—this adds a hint of sweetness to help cut through the richness of the marrow. Simply take the small spoon provided, scoop out a bit of marrow, spread on toast, and enjoy.

Perhaps bone marrow is not for everyone, but it’s something everyone should at least sample for themselves. I’ve heard it described as “gravy butter” before, and that’s a fairly decent description—meaty, fatty, and spreadable.

Beyond bone marrow, Table 28 is striving to give diners a taste of many less commonly seen dishes. But they’re doing it in a way that can be enjoyed by anyone. These are dishes that are exciting and enticing for their remarkable flavor profiles—not simply because some might consider them on the adventurous side of the menu. You’ll find the foie gras biscuit and gravy, chicken liver pate, warm pig feet terrine, and beef tongue, just to name a few. In my humble opinion, Table 28 ranks among the very few elite dining experiences in Little Rock—it deserves any praise it’s received and probably more.

Table 28 is located inside the Best Western Governor's Suites (former home of Vesuvio Bistro) at 1501 Merrill Dr., Little Rock. (501) 224-8051

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