The Experience: Seamstress opened up on the Upper East Side just last month. This cocktail bar and restaurant are part of the neighborhood’s makeover from old age home to place to hang out on the weekends. The Seamstress team combines those that have brought New York City the Gilroy and the Dead Rabbit, and influence from those establishments are definitely present. The cocktails are out of this world good. The menu harkens back to a time when men knew to take off their hats indoors (I’m looking at you, the beanie-wearing population of NYC), and terms like vegan and gluten-free had not yet entered the public lexicon. As such, Seamstress makes its burger, a centerpiece of its menu, with good old fashioned mutton.
In the United States, it is not uncommon to find lamb on a menu. But to find mutton, meat from a sheep over two-years-old (whereas lamb is more tender meat from a younger sheep), is rare indeed. In my own experience, I have encountered mutton only at Keens Steakhouse, where they serve a humongous mutton chop. At Seamstress, the mutton comes Violet Hill Farm in West Winfield, New York, and is used at seamstress to make much more than just the burger. But this review isn’t about tartar, as good as it may have been. It’s about the burger.
Burger Ordered: Mutton Burger
The Taste: The burger comes topped with triple-crème, buttermilk fermented carrots, fennel fronds, and fried rosemary on a fresh-baked brioche bun. Though the cheese was rich in flavor and true to its name in texture, and though the rabbit food (more on that in a bit) added a lovely range of color and crunch, there was no way to deny that every bite of this burger belonged to the mutton. Every bite was distinctly savory, and perfectly balanced by the sweet brioche bun. The gigantic fried potatoes are an appropriate companion for this Swanson-esque feast.
But the greatest triumph of the mutton burger is the carrots. The only two foods I generally refuse to eat are carrots and cauliflower, and I always applaud those who prepare them in a way that I find palatable. As a matter of comparison, the burger at Kingside uses cauliflower in a way that I did not enjoy, while Seamstress managed to prepare the carrots in a manner that accentuated the burger rather than distract from it.
The Verdict: Seamstress may not need my recommendation, as their appeared to be burgers coming out of the kitchen at a rapid pace. Those on the Upper East Side will no doubt be keeping this bar and restaurant packed. But for those of us who live far away, the mutton burger is worth the trip.
Seamstress is located at 339 East 75th Street in Manhattan, New York.