Restaurant Openings & Buzz
Week of April 28, 2003

Ocean's 21
The inspiration for the new Ocean’s 21, in case you need a hint, is the New York and Las Vegas of the fifties and the swingin’ characters who inhabited them. With drinks like the Ava Gardner champagne cocktail and the Chairman’s Cosmopolitan, this self-styled “modern social club” aims to attract today’s rat packs (though we can’t imagine what Frank and Dino would have made of blood-orange purée). The subterranean space, best known for its long, vaguely illicit run as the informal social club Marylou’s, has since been refurnished with red velvet and gray wool pinstripe, loveseats and Barcelona chairs, and an Italian-accented menu full of supper-club classics like shrimp cocktail and veal scaloppine.
21 West 9th Street

Not that Van Brunt Street, Red Hook’s main thoroughfare, has turned into another Smith Street—yet—but Hope & Anchor’s elevated diner food, the forthcoming Fairway, and 360’s prix fixe French all point to some serious culinary gentrification. At 360, the $20 three-course menu changes daily, covering the sort of familiar bistro territory certain to dispel any lingering dockworker associations. Beyond chicken liver paté, steak-frites, and crème caramel, there are à la carte nibbles like charcuterie and oysters, plus a well-priced selection of organic wines. Notes for destination diners: It’s a hike to and from the subway, dinner’s served only from Thursday to Sunday, and you’ll need reservations and cash. It’s a brave new restaurant world, and credit cards aren’t accepted..
360 Van Brunt Street, Brooklyn

best of the week

Cinco de Mayo at Rosa Mexicano
Celebrate the Mexican defeat of the French with seafood empanadas, chiles rellenos, and the rest of Rosa Mexicano's special prix fixe tasting menu. ($50)
Rosa Mexicano
61 Columbus Avenue, at 62nd St.
1063 First Avenue, at 59th St.
object of desire

How Come You Taste So Good?
Craftbar pastry chef Karen DeMasco calls her latest irresistible concoction a brown-sugar cake, but you could say it’s more like a pineapple-upside-down-and-off-to-the-side cake. Like a Belgian fashion designer, she’s cleverly deconstructed a classic, serving the moist, sugar-soaked confection alongside a roasted slice of fresh pineapple and a right-side-up scoop of vanilla ice cream.
47 East 19th Street

Milking It
You’ve had buffalo mozzarella. You’ve had buffalo ricotta. Now, thanks to the pioneering efforts of a Wharton M.B.A. turned Vermont dairy farmer, you can have buffalo-milk yogurt, a ubiquitous presence in India and Southeast Asia—and, legend has it, on Fidel Castro’s dinner table. (Doesn’t sound very proletarian, does it?) Dr. David Muller bought his 100-head herd and started producing Woodstock Water Buffalo Yogurt at Star Hill Dairy largely in response to the precipitous decline of cow’s-milk prices, attempting a creative solution to Vermont’s dairy-industry woes. Available in plain, maple, and honey flavors, Woodstock yogurt has a richness and creaminess reminiscent of the European-style strained yogurt that’s become so popular on the gourmet-shop circuit. Next up: Vermont-made buffalo mozzarella and ricotta, destined for a pizzeria near you. (Available at Zabar’s, Murray’s Cheese Shop, Garden of Eden, and many other retail locations; for a full list, visit

Slope Hope
Park Slope gourmets—and is there any other type of Park Sloper these days?—have another reason to shop locally with the arrival of Market, the lovely new neighbor to Bistro St. Marks run by the restaurant’s owners, Johannes Sanzin and Dominique Drevet. A small selection of meats, cheeses, breads from Sullivan Street Bakery and TriBakery, tasty prepared dishes, and soups reprised from the partners’ Souperman days are available, along with organic fruit and freshly cut flowers. It’s enough to make you want to eat in, but you’ll soon have the option of dining in the back, where Sanzin plans to install a 40-seat trattoria serving pastas, risotto, and grilled fish in the fall.
78 St. Marks Avenue, Brooklyn


Ask Gael
Have I been missing something on Avenue C?
If, like me, you thought the far East Village was no-man’s-land, think again. Gazing out from the bar at Bao 111, I realize that Avenue C is downright gentrified. You could be in Cleveland. And it’s worth an excursion now that chef Michael Huynh is focused on his Vietnam roots—dishing up savory short rib on lemongrass skewers, plump clams in a fragrant beer broth, and wonderful prawn-stuffed calamari with cucumber relish. Don’t miss his fragrant yam soup with tiger shrimp. Huynh plays within a Saigon palette in his lobster-and-lotus-rootlet salad and in splendid pan-fried sea bass—half traditional Vietnam, half an homage to his Saigon mom. Desserts are pure fantasy, both goofy and good. With a major sake protocol, a 2 a.m. closing time, and front-of-the-house veterans Chris Johnson (BondSt, Town) and Chris Andrews (Canteen, Les Célébrités) as partners, Bao 111 angles to be a new late-night chef hangout.
Bao 111
111 Avenue C

In the Archives

April 21, 2003
Nick's, Morrells Restaurant, Nice Matin, Chubo, Azaza, Franchia; find comfort in Home's cooking.

April 14, 2003
Chennai Garden, Barking Dog, Kitchen 82; dessert tasting at Blue Hill; feastable lemon-meringue; Chef Rebecca Charles's new book; Patroon gets another wake-up call.

March 31, 2003
The Mermaid Inn, Ten Sushi, Rice to Riches, Scopello; backstage access at The Restaurant at Spotlight Studios; Dos Caminos Soho and Le Zoccole debut soon; grand dining at Capitale.

More Openings & Buzz

Photos: Patrik Rytikangas (1, 2), Tina Rupp (3-5), Kenneth Chen (6).