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Week of May 13, 2002

the underground gourmet
Marc Solomon, chef-partner of Manhattan Valley's itty-bitty A, has taken to spreading the French-Caribbean gospel (and his delectable curried-lamb pies) all over upper Manhattan. When his friend and customer Shae Russell asked for advice on converting his Washington Heights bakery, Coda Café, into more of an atmospheric after-work gathering place, Solomon not only gave Russell some menu pointers but bequeathed his coveted curried-lamb recipe. "It's too much work," he says. "I hate baking." Luckily, Russell doesn't — he'd been baking pastries and cakes at Coda anyway — and he still does a nice brownie. He and co-owner Jeanne Lee renovated Coda and renamed it Café 66, and he's made the transition from American sandwiches to tropical tapas with aplomb. Nothing on the five-item menu, which includes jerk chicken wings with mango mayo, creole codfish cakes, and corn croquettes, costs more than $8, making it a welcome addition to the neighborhood and a relatively posh alternative to the Dominican cuchifritos truck across the street.
Café 66
1030 St. Nicholas Avenue, at 162nd Street


best of the week
Beacon's Second Annual Beefsteak on May 21
Joseph Mitchell immortalized the then fading nineteenth-century event called a beefsteak in a story called "All You Can Hold for Five Bucks." Three generations later, the price is $85 — but the tradition remains the same: Eat all the steak, lamb, bacon, and crabmeat you can possibly pack into your belly on May 21.
25 W. 56th Street

Ask Gael
Make me an offer I can't resist.
When The Palm was just a red-sauce hangout for neighborhood newspapermen (and a few Lois Lanes), one of the owners would run up the street to the butcher for steak if some Hearst biggies insisted on meat. Well, the two of us aren't exactly in desperate need of carb-and-fat overload tonight, but no way can we refuse the Palm deal celebrating its pasta roots. For $60, we get twin platters of slightly timid Caesar ("Maybe they whispered 'Anchovy,' " my companion observes), spaghetti with zesty white clam sauce, a sensational sirloin slab, two sides, and coffee or tea. With uncharacteristic submissiveness, I let my guy pick the sides. What a shock: broccoli (in an ideal state of cooked-but-not-too) and cottage fries-chips, actually-hot and well-seasoned. Did I say huge? Everything is huge. "Our veal parmigiana hangs over the plate," boasts the waiter. A steal. Through May 31 nationwide; through June 15 in Manhattan.
The Palm
250 West 50th Street
837 Second Avenue, near 44th Street

Bites & Buzz Archive

Week of May 6
Mother's Day Dining; the Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory; Pico's tribute to the Tribeca Film Festival; Arezzo's tempesta; happy meals; the latest place for Chinese in midtown
Week of April 29
The China Fun heir; bar dining at D'Artagnan; the first annual sake summit; can Compass find the way?
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

and more ...

Photos: From top to bottom- Bruce Katz; Carina Salvi

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