Friday, April 17, 2015

Checking Out Livestock

If you haven't taken the time to check out Livestock yet, you're missing out. Offered as a once-weekly Sunday afternoon pop-up at LITM, Livestock is constantly exploring new ingredients and bringing creativity to their kitchen.

Every week I look forward to reading their menu to see what the chefs behind Livestock have come up with and having been in a couple of times now, I've yet to find it an easy decision on what to get. The simplest answer? Go with a few friends and split as much as you can.

Is the food technically perfect? Enough to make you swear off all other restaurants? Absolutely not. But it is good. And almost as importantly, it's fun. The two chefs behind it take the quality of their food seriously, but less so themselves - they're here to have fun, challenge themselves and their ingredients, to make good food and enjoy doing so. It's a refreshing change.

Be warned, this is not health food or light eating. The menu often has vegetarian items, but the focus is much more on various kinds of meat and they don't shy away from using unusual cuts or ingredients. Almost everything I've had has been a twist on comfort/typical American foods but always amped up to a new level and made with strong, intense flavors.

The menu changes weekly with few carryover items so it's hard to recommend anything specific, but the approach and cooking remain consistent. Stand-outs that I've had have included:

The tater-tot poutine (present on the menu almost every week). Salty, crispy tater-tots covered in flavorful but not overly heavy gravy, and melted mozzarella with scallions scattered over the top for some nice mild onion flavor.. I'd recommend trying it with their truly excellent chili if you're in the mood for a little heat.

Fried chicken with a hot and sweet sauce and buttery popcorn grits. The grits weren't my favorite although they did taste remarkably like popcorn, but the chicken was excellent - spicy, sweet, tender, and juicy with a bit of crispy skin.

The bacon-wrapped pork cheek spinach salad. It was on the simpler side as far as Livestock's dishes go, but delicious. Little molten balls of mozzarella, tender pork bites, spinach and a slightly tart, acidic vinaigrette.

The BBQ lamb sandwich. Made from modcup braised leg of lamb with Livestock BBQ sauce and tzatziki slaw, this was darkly but subtly smoky, a little spicy, with crisp and refreshing flavors from the slaw.

All in All
Livestock is a new, intensely flavorful, and great addition to food in Jersey City. The creativity is present in every single menu and by acting as a once-a-week pop-up, they are able to focus on experimentation and creating unique and original meals that are all about being fun and delicious. It's like the chefs are giving themselves a new challenge every single week to go further than they have before and they seem to win over and over. The number of weeks that I've regretted not being able to go to Livestock are too many. Don't let this be you.

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