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Week of January 14, 2002

the underground gourmet
Small Craft Advisory

Call us cheapskates, but as much as we love places like Gramercy Tavern, Tabla, and Babbo, we always feel more at home in their less expensive offshoots: the Tavern Room, Bread Bar, Lupa. Now comes Craft Bar, Tom Colicchio's laid-back answer to his stripped-down, marked-up elegance next door at Craft. Here, Colicchio and chef Marco Canora (pictured) have made it really easy for those who still can't get the hang of Craft's purportedly confusing menu structure. Or have they? With only three daily entrées one fish, one meat, and one pasta, from $14 to $18 ordering's simple enough. But before you get around to Tuesday's braised pork belly, Thursday's poached skate, or Friday's spaghetti carbonara, you'll have to navigate a mouthwatering minefield of Italian-accented appetizers and small plates including fried sage leaves stuffed with sausage, risotto balls, salumi, cheese, and pressed sandwiches like the combo of duck ham, hen-of-the-woods mushrooms, and Taleggio. ROB PATRONITE
Craft Bar
47 East 19th Street

The Best of Bourgogne
Yes, sampling the world's greatest Burgundies can cost you a fortune. But you can do it at modest cost by Burgundy standards, anyhow on January 25 and 26 at The Magnificent Seven, hosted by Daniel Johnnes (pictured), wine director of Montrachet and president of Jeroboam Wines. On hand, with bottles in tow, are six top Burgundians and one legendary Rhône wine-maker: Patrick Bize, Jean-Pierre De Smet, Dominique Lafon, Pierre Meurgey, Jean-Marc Roulot, Christophe Roumier, and Alain Graillot. Night one, at Montrachet, is the spare-no-expense option ($975 for a six-course meal accompanied by sixteen hard-to-find vintages), but night two, at the W New York, offers the choice of a $95 walk-around tasting of the 1998s and 1999s or a $395 traditional Burgundian meal with nearly 40 wine selections. Guests are encouraged to bring something from their own cellars to share, as they did two years ago at Johnnes's highly successful La Paulée of New York. Call 212-625-2519 to reserve. PETER KAMINSKY

Ask Gael
Give me an update on Harlem's renaissance.
Maybe your budget can't swallow a coveted townhouse on Striver's Row. But fabulous barbecued chicken and devilishly rich ribs at the Lenox Lounge will barely make a dent in your cash flow. After eight months of elbow grease, liberal applications of fake fur, and a $600,000 renovation of the Art Deco chrome, finned lighting towers, and Bakelite-framed ceiling, the legendary club it opened in 1939 is now doing dinner. The week opens low-key but warms up with jazz from the house band Wednesdays and then rhythm-and-blues weekends (pictured, Joseph Diamond and His Latin Jazz Trio). Sound lashes our ears in the lounge proper, chasing us to the dining room, where we are alone (feeling a bit invisible) most of the night, forced to beg for menus and service, pleasant enough once it comes. The lusty beat filters through closed doors, just loud enough. We take our buffalo chicken wings torrid, love the corn bread, and liquidate the macaroni-and-cheese, but can't handle smothered pork chops that are like plywood.
Lenox Lounge
288 Lenox Avenue, near 125th Street

Bites & Buzz Archive

Week of January 7
Tongue in chic, AKA Cafe's two-timing chef, Gael finds a class act on the Upper West Side
Week of December 31
Creative cocktails at the Vivian Beaumont; Oceana's sweet sea urchin custard; Beppe gets a visit from Mama; Picholine shines
Week of December 17
5 spots for New Year's Eve; French-Carribean cooking at La Brunette; Christmas Eve fishfest; take Payard home for Christmas; Boerum Hill's new bakery; Gael favorite cookbooks
Week of December 10
Urban hippie cuisine; Good Humor meets D'Artagnan; wood pigeon pie, and hot dogs — the new latte?

and more ...

Photos: From top to bottom- Patrik Rytikangas (2); Kenneth Chen

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