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I’ve found a new contender for the most awesomely un-salady salad. Sripraphai’s crispy watercress salad is still tops but Resto’s crispy pig’s ear salad is a close second. Clearly, the secret to a good salad is the use of crispy ingredients.

Resto crispy pig's ear salad

I’m still not sure how something so suspect can taste so good. The sizable curls of fried ear almost outweigh the chicory leaves. The meat has much more chew than chicharrones, the closest thing I can compare the cut to, but still retains lots of crackle. White tarbeis beans are also distributed through the dish and everything is laced with a mustard-based dressing most likely herbed with chervil (the little fronds looks like parsley yet taste a little licoricey). The crowning glory is a soft-cooked egg.

I’m so sick of mix and match Financial District lunch salads I could cry. Even the cheapskate in me would order this $12 (oh, it’s $10 at lunch) number on a regular basis if it were available in the neighborhood.

Resto debal curry mussels

After my new favorite ear mélange and a bottle of Kasteel Donker, curry mussels were superfluous. I was just going for something relatively light and non-meaty. Never mind the French fries and mayonnaise. Those fries were very tasty, but abnormally heavy.

Resto tete de veau sandwich

James and I were going to share appetizers, but he was more into the tete de veau sandwich spiced with sriracha and I was obviously smitten with my salad. He actually preferred the head cheese on toast to the much lauded gruyere burger, his entree. I forgot to taste the burger so I’m not sure what to think.

Resto chocolate sampler

Dessert was a chocolate tasting, from left to right: cinnamon milk chocolate, Sichuan peppercorn dark chocolate and orange dark chocolate. Not purists, we chose all flavored bars, besides they were out of the hardcore 88% cacao anyway. I love Sichuan savory food but I’m not sure how I feel about the use of these crunchy pods in sweets. The metallic tingly effect is kind of overpowering, like licking aluminum foil. I could still feel it while waiting for the 6 train 20 minutes later.

I know that if you were reading a cooking blog and they were whipping up pig’s ears they would be sourced from a quaint farm where the animals are blissful or special ordered by their local butcher they’ve forged a trusting relationship with. And those ears, lovely as they might be, would set you back say, $30. And maybe that’s a small price to pay for quality ears. I don’t know.

Western beef pig ears

But I’m a grocery store girl so Saturday while at Western Beef, my favorite all-purpose supermarket, I browsed the walk-in meat cooler for ears. And of course I found them all frozen and scary looking, yet for a mere $2.39 a pound. I needed no convincing to put them in my cart.

It’s just cartilage, skin and fat. Do you think there is genuinely a marked difference between odd bits from a grocery store and a butcher? That would be one taste test that would be hard to recruit for. Well, I’m only out $3.87  if my pig’s ear cooking experiment goes south. I’ll crack open my copies of Nose to Tail Eating and The River Cottage Meat Book tonight

Resto * 111 E. 29th St., New York, NY

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