While places like Carbone and Guy’s American Kitchen + Bar get more mainstream hype, it seems that every chef or food writer we talk to rates Estela as New York’s most exciting restaurant right now. We don’t disagree. 

One of the dishes that best represents chef Ignacio Mattos’ knack for subtle flourishes is his beef tartare, which stands out from an endless sea of other beef tartares thanks to crunchy sunchoke chips, fish sauce, and just the right amount of citrus.

But there’s got to be something else that makes this dish so damn good, right? Something the servers aren’t telling us?

In his Vogue story on reinvented tartares around the world, Oliver Strand digs up some more details on the Estela version. He learns that the order in which ingredients are added to the mix is very important (“If you change the assemblage, it has a completely different mouthfeel”). He also discovers that Mattos and his crew make the dish at the beginning of each shift to “establish a feel for how the ingredients are interacting that day.” But the greatest revelation comes from Estela co-owner Thomas Carter, who says,

[pullquote]“I’ll tell you what [Ignacio] said when he was training a cook when we opened,” Carter says to me. “He told him, ‘You have to put your fucking life into the tartare. You put your fucking life into it.’”[/pullquote]

So there you have it. If your tartare isn’t as transcendent as Estela’s, you’re probably not putting your fucking life into it. 

Here’s a neat visualization of the dish from the Vogue story. Notice how they forget to add the secret ingredient of life. Where are the fact-checkers these days?

Here’s some more stuff we loved from today: 

11 New Slogans McDonald’s Could Use Instead of “Lovin’ > Hatin’” [Grubstreet]

London’s Best New Ramen Places [Guardian]

Foraging for a Pastry Chef in the Bronx [New York Times]