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Week of April 29, 2002

first taste
Beekman's World
Mom and Pop's thriving China Fun chain helped put dumpling heir Albert Wu through the Culinary Institute of America. So when the ambitious grad wanted to flex his American muscle, the folks moved downtown to give him room for the wood oven that is the heart of Beekman Kitchen. With a pair of cooks he met on duty at Bouley Bakery, Wu is already wowing the neighborhood with his gently priced home cooking-burgers, pasta, grilled chops, and seafood, with a modest wine list to match. We're knocked out by the tuna tartare's seductive tangle of flavors in a portion to share. An equally generous Caesar is fine. Our gargantuan pork chop emerges from that oven sweet, tender, and amazingly juicy. Savory hanger steak with roasted sweet onions and a side of sensational fries has the fussy Road Food Warrior raving, though I'd prefer my meltingly pink salmon without its mustard-seed coverlet, and desserts less sweet. It's not our Zip Code, but we'll be back. — GAEL GREENE
Beekman Kitchen
1239 Second Avenue, at 65th Street


best of the week
The First Annual Saké Summit on May 4th
The nation's top wine-and-spirits writers will be at the Rihga Royal for tastings and contests, all in the name of finding the best sake in America. Reserve early — and have a large meal before you arrive. ($50; May 4; for information, visit


new menu
Name Brandy
D'Artagnan's cozy new copper-topped bar, which has replaced the downstairs dining room, is the only place we know outside of Gascony where the barkeep passes a plate of fritons (duck cracklings) in lieu of peanuts. If crunchy fried fat isn't your idea of happy hour, the new bar menu is larded with duck in many other succulent forms, including confit-and-cabbage soup, pasta with foie gras, and, for the health-conscious, a duck salad. Counteract all that cholesterol with a glass of Gascon red, or something stronger, like an Armagnac-based cocktail. With apologies to P. Diddy, Busta Rhymes, and the Ladies Man, we predict that the Gascon brandy is poised to become the new Courvoisier: We have it on good authority that David Chase, a D'Artagnan regular, is working on an episode of The Sopranos where Tony's introduced to the Armagnac business. The research, we assume, was thorough.
152 East 46th Street


Ask Gael
Can Compass find the way?
It didn't work as Marika, not even when talented Neil Annis drove the range. With a shift of partners and new money, the newly dubbed Compass has finally found a winning West Side mojo. Annis still deals in the haute schtick he picked up at Lespinasse (his tomato-lobster-gooseberry amuse-bouche is thrilling). Tonight's shimmering halibut tastes as if it were still swimming, and I can't remember a better veal chop anywhere in months (though the fat fries are too fat). I'll be back often for the benevolent $30 prix fixe-luscious vichyssoise with chive-oil puddles or a clever chopped salad to start, then salmon roasted to a blush or short ribs on fingerling purée, and satiny sorbets. And dangerously addictive biscuits. Not for me: Tabla prodigy Jehangir Mehta's basil cake with mâche salad. I'll stick to subtle lemongrass panna cotta or a complex layering of chocolate, crunch, and cream cheese (the $4.50 tasting size is perfect). And at the end a goody bag: cranberry breakfast scones to go.
208 West 70th Street

Bites & Buzz Archive

Week of April 22
Tribeca's Bubby-que; '44' gets some South Beach sizzle; Batali's new book; Gael's déjà vu at Washington Park
Week of April 15
NYC's new water pressure; Is Blue Smoke the way to hog heaven?
Week of April 8
Au naturel dining; is Paris unfair to our homeboy Jean Georges?

and more ...

Photo: From top to bottom- Patrik Rytikangas (first & third) ; Carina Salvi

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