An overly ambitious order by James Beard Foundation Award-winning chef Charlie Palmer’s team in D.C. means local diners can expect to feast on bone marrow-based specials for at least a little while.
Executive chef Mike Ellis requested 400 pieces for the third annual Beefsteak fundraiser held April 5 at Palmer’s Capitol Hill restaurant, and attendees at the $150-per-person event failed to polish it all off. He told Eater the surplus offal is now projected to appear on the menu until it runs out.
Palmer and Waldy Malouf, senior director of food and beverage operations at the Culinary Institute of America, co-hosted the all-you-can-eat dinner designed to raise money for CIA students. Palmer said this year’s event raised just under $4,000.
Malouf informed attendees that beefsteaks were all-male, booze and beef-fueled banquets — many women in the room roundly booed him, but it was all in jest — dating back to the 19th century in New York City. “It’s a food-based tradition,” Malouf told Eater. “It’s very New York, although they’re starting to do them in Philadelphia and Washington. It’s a great event that brings together a lot of different people for one purpose and that’s hospitality, food and beverage.”
Here are some highlights from the raucous night.
The main event: The only thing left over from the meat-focused event was bone marrow; look for a limited-edition bone marrow custard or another related item on Charlie Palmer’s menu in the coming days. Attendee Mel Walker of Alexandria, Virginia grew up eating bone marrow and was excited to see it showcased with currants and horseradish gremolata. “It brings me back home,” Walker told Eater.
Beyond that, Eater heard high praise from guests about the garlic and herb-roasted beef rib-eye — which Palmer carried out with sparklers — and lamb chops served with mint chimichurri. Attendee Frank Smith said he flew in from Miami just for the event. He said he normally hates lamb, but only eats it at the Beefsteak — to him, Palmer’s lamb tastes like a good piece of beef.
Little extras: Chefs switched up the Beefsteak menu only slightly by adding deviled eggs to the mix. Executive chef Mike Ellis whipped the 200 yolks with Dijon mustard, crab meat, a touch of mayo and Old Bay seasoning, before sprinkling the tops with the seasoning and chives.
Double vision: Beefsteak diners were served two types of Maker’s Mark. The first was the traditional bourbon whiskey, and the other was Maker’s Mark 46, which is aged with French oak to produce a smoother finish. Eater spotted a few guests taking home the 46 bottles as collectibles.
Peekaboo: This marked the first beefsteak since Charlie Palmer’s completed an extensive renovation in October that added a new bar, carpeting, lampshades, lighting, chairs and more, general manager Michael Irving tells Eater. But the eatery didn’t touch the three large keyholes in the men’s and women’s bathrooms that allow patrons to peek into the other gender’s lavatory, though. Those are original to the space, Irving said.
Fashion statement: Revelers suited up for dinner in white butcher aprons and paper diner hats. The idea was for guests to look like old-school butchers, Palmer said.
Ready to eat: Matt Hill, executive chef of the Liberty Tavern family of restaurants (Lyon Hall, Northside Social, Liberty Barbecue) and an alum of Palmer’s restaurant group, arrived fashionably late nearly two hours after dinner started. He told Eater he’d eat — and drink — anything Palmer put in front of him.
The great American songbook: Besides leading the room in song, Palmer handed out a book of lyrics this year so people could sing along with him as he was accompanied by the Banjo Rick Trio. The guests started out strong, with “God Bless America,” “Take Me Out to the Ball Game,” “Yankee Doodle Dandy” and others. But by the end of the night, most were either slurring the words or not singing at all. Palmer readily admits singing isn’t his strong suit.
“I am not the music man,” Palmer told the crowd. “You want me in the kitchen.”
Doggy bags FTW: Not one to let good food go to waste, repeat Beefsteak dinner attendee Gerri Sollenberger of Arlington, Virginia came prepared with large resealable plastic bags for her leftovers. Eater spied shrimp, baked bread, and bourbon brioche bread pudding among other items stuffed in her purse. The bone marrow was reserved for her dog.
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