As Cherche Midi sailed toward its opening date on the Bowery last year, the restaurant’s owner, Keith McNally, summoned his two chefs so he could sample and critique the dishes they had dreamed up for the French-inspired menu.
The chefs, Shane McBride and Daniel Parilla, knew their coup de grâce might also be something of a gamble: a thick Jurassic plank of flesh and fat of the sort that’s usually associated with weddings and bar mitzvahs. In other words, they hoped to reacquaint their boss — the longtime sultan of downtown scene-building — with the decidedly regal, uptown pleasures of prime rib.
“We put it in front of Keith, and his eyes opened up like he was a little kid,” Mr. McBride said. Now, prime rib is the restaurant’s signature dish.
“We wanted to do a cut of meat that nobody was doing,” Mr. McBride added.
Nobody? Prime rib’s image as a Sunday-dinner dinosaur that has been exiled to the hinterlands of the Las Vegas banquet hall has been greatly exaggerated.