Lamb meat has a distinctive earthy taste that some folks describe as grassy and fresh, while others peg as gamey and exotic. Whichever way your palate leans, the lamb chop – most often expressed as a “rib cut,” served lollipop-style on the end of a bone – can be transcendent. For his lamb chop fondue ($16, pictured), Roaring Fork executive chef Scott Mortensen marinates New Zealand-sourced rib chops in extra virgin olive oil, fresh garlic and rosemary for at least 24 hours and then grills the 1 oz. medallions on the flattop with a sprinkle of salt until medium rare. Singed on the outside, delicate and pink on the inside, the chops light up when dipped into a sinfully rich, bubbling pot of white-wine-laced pepper jack cheese. “It’s an eclectic dish that you’re not going to find anywhere else,” Mortensen says.
Pubblico Italian Eatery
Pubblico’s lamb chops ($35) are falling all over themselves with flavor. Marinated in olive oil, garlic and fresh herbs, the chops are baked in a wood-fire oven, sautéed to order and then smothered in a bold red wine and lamb demi-glace. The achingly tender New Zealand rib chops – essentially, the rib-eye of the lamb – are plated with a mound of well-crafted mashed potatoes laced with mascarpone cheese and tickled with roasted garlic; and a simple medley of sautéed baby carrots and green beans. Pubblico serves the juicy chops with a steak knife, but you’ll probably want to finish them off with your fingers to get every last tidbit off the bone. This seasonal dish is available through May.
KOVO Modern Mediterranean
At KOVO Modern Mediterranean, chef-owner Yianni Ioannou dishes out rib chops ($28) inspired by a cherished family recipe. Cypress-born Ioannou steeps the chops for up to 24 hours in an olive oil marinade flecked with fresh garlic, oregano, rosemary and thyme, then grills the flavor-infused meat to order. While many customers frequent the restaurant for lamb (KOVO also offers braised lamb shanks and lamb burgers), many are first-timers, and they often get hooked, Ioannou says. He serves the chops with a bounty of crisp, salty french fries, warm pita wedges and a choice of eight sides, including a popular village salad brimming with tomatoes, cucumbers, feta cheese and olives. Mints not included.