Come late spring, everyone gets worked up for things like asparagus, rhubarb, and fava beans. But the most coveted ingredient of the season might just be morels, the rich, rare mushrooms that tend to go for prohibitive prices. (At about $75 per pound — owing to the difficulty of foraging them — you might call them the truffles of the Greenmarket.) Fortunately, the prized 'shrooms are also featured in plenty of restaurant dishes like lobster paella at Toro, rabbit tortellini at Locanda Verde, and roasted chicken at Edi & the Wolf — all of which are not just delicious, but also priced so that high-rolling locavores won't be the only people who can afford to enjoy them.
Where: Baker & Co.
This new Bleecker Street restaurant has quickly become a neighborhood favorite. Try this new pasta, which comes with super-seasonal morels and English peas.
Asparagus & Morels
Where: Maison Premiere
Chef Lisa Giffen sautés morels and then braises them in Vin Jaune wine for one hour to create a morel jus. She finishes it off with freshly shucked oysters — which are poached in the morel juice — and lemon, heavy cream, and asparagus puree.
Rabbit Tortellini en Brodo
Where: Locanda Verde
While the crowds rush to Bar Primi, revisit Andrew Carmellini's original Italian restaurant for the excellent pasta with roasted morels and Piave Vecchio cow's milk cheese.
Where: Charlie Bird
Bonus: Ryan Hardy's new pasta dish comes with both ramps and morel mushrooms.
Spit-Roasted Chicken with Asparagus and Morels
At $35, chef Danny Amend's roasted chicken is one of the more affordable luxury birds in town (as with most restaurant chicken dishes, it easily feeds two). It's an even better deal when you realize it arrives at the table gilded with plump hunks of morels and stalks of asparagus on the side. Complete the spread by ordering the a plate of truly excellent fried potatoes with spring onions, too.
Morel and Chanterelle Mushrooms
George Mendes serves a mix of mushrooms with white asparagus and a soft-poached hen egg.
Where: Corkbuzz Wine Studio
Another winning morel-and-egg combination: This pasta dish comes with morels, ramp pesto, and a duck-egg carbonara sauce.
Where: Edi & the Wolf
This airy Alphabet City tavern hits its prime in the warmer months, when it serves dishes like roasted spring chicken with morels, fiddleheads, and fava beans. There's also a special appetizer of white asparagus with braised morels, a poached egg, and pumpernickel breadcrumbs.
Gnocchi & Morels
Chef, and Perth native, Craig Hopson has a bunch of Australian black truffles, which he's adding to a housemade potato gnocchi with spring garlic, morels, and peas.
Where: Gotham Bar and Grill
Price: $34 (Greenmarket Lunch Prix Fixe)
Use a summer Friday to take advantage of the lunch deal here: The menu includes a sunchoke velouté with morels, spring garlic, English peas, and pickled ramps.