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Restaurant Openings & Buzz
Week of July 7, 2003

That Little Cafe
When Anat Sror and Raquel Osorio, the owners of Brooklyn’s Dishful Caterers, began planning a Manhattan café, their ambitions were modest. But Sror’s husband, Billy Choi (a partner, along with his sister Betty), persuaded them to devise a menu that reflected their respective strengths. For the Israeli Sror, that meant bourekas and Middle Eastern meze; for Osorio, from Brazil, it was the pressed guava-and-cheese panini called Romeo & Juliet—all of which can now be found at That Little Cafe, the cozy, colorful outgrowth of their newly relocated business. It’s a win-win situation: The caterers get exposure, and their customers get to feast on breakfast frittatas, chipotle-spiked coconut-chicken sandwiches, and specials like blue-corn-tortilla fish tacos.
147 East Houston Street

Blue Goose Café
Jack and Grace Lamb scored their first East Village success at Jewel Bako, their exquisite sushi shrine. But Grace always wanted a café, and when Jack noticed the shuttered former home of Michael & Zoe’s around the corner, they pounced, commissioning Jewel Bako’s designer to transform the neighborhood fixture into the Blue Goose Café, a refined repository of Ceci-Cela croissants, Payard pastry, and pâté with cornichons. “Everything was vegetarian and bean sprouts,” says Jack. “I’m totally the opposite.” He imports Alinosi spumoni from Detroit (his hometown), and Steve’s Key-lime pie from Red Hook, all under the watchful eye of his wife. “She told me, ‘Stay out of there, you’re going to make it a four-star restaurant.’ ” It’s a slight exaggeration, but not an unfounded one: Not only does her nattily attired husband ride his orange Swedish Army–issue bike to the Greenmarket, loading a rattan basket with sugar-snap peas for the salad of the day, but he’s just hired a chef from Ducasse to assemble nightly amuse-bouches and charcuterie plates. A wine-and-beer license is in the works. The café might not be Jewel Bako, but there’s no denying it’s a gem. — ROBIN RAISFELD
101 Second Avenue

object of desire

Hard Lemonade
Some people like fresh-squeezed lemonade during a hot spell. Cheryl Perry likes hers freshly baked: The chef at Dish on the Lower East Side starts by roasting halved lemons with fresh vanilla bean and sugar in a shallow pan of water. When they’ve started to caramelize, she blends the lemons, skins and all, with the water they’ve been roasted in, then strains the mixture and adds more lemon juice. Perfectly tart and seriously thirst-quenching, with an unusually rich flavor and round texture, it’s a lemonade that’s worth the extra effort.
165 Allen Street

Devil Dog Days
Like a lot of other top pastry chefs, Bill Yosses must have spent his teen years in a 7-Eleven parking lot gorging on Twinkies and Ho Hos. His madeleine, it would seem, is the Devil Dog, and at Citarella the Restaurant he does it proud. Luscious chocolate-glazed devil’s-food cake and white-chocolate mousse lavishly replace whatever it is that Drake’s uses in its version. Yosses also throws in an exquisite chocolate-ice-cream-macaroon sandwich, but he draws the line at calling it an Eskimo Pie.
Citarella the Restaurant
1240 Sixth Ave., at 49th St.

the top five
Beer Gardens
Beer and wurst is fun, specially when outdoors done,” reads the sign at East Village biergarten Zum Schneider. And who are we to argue? We’re too busy soaking up the intermittent sunshine and the Reissdorf Koelsch at local biergartens from the 59th Street Bridge to Brooklyn.

in print

Mayo Clinic
According to Michele Anna Jordan, BLTs are seasonal sandwiches, only to be attempted when local tomatoes are ripe. That time is nigh, which makes her new book, The BLT Cookbook (William Morrow; $14.95), so opportune. Not to mention borderline obsessive: Jordan has compiled 150 pages of BLT-related recipes, from butter-lettuce soup with bacon and tomato to a seafood spin on the classic sandwich made with sand dabs. A former advocate of the “untoasted” BLT, the author has seen the error of her ways. She touts Hellman’s, heirlooms, and Malaysian peppercorns, even toasted nori as a bacon substitute. Miracle Whip, of course, takes a beating.


Ask Gael
Why can’t a steakhouse be romantic?
Score a sensational steak and cuddle, too, in the flickering candlelight at Hacienda de Argentina, where meat is a serious pursuit. Share sausages to start—unctuous blood sausage, spicy Argentine chorizo, mellow pork salchicha parrillera. But get your steak order in fast so you don’t fill up on the crusty hot bread or too many empanadas while waiting. Both the Argentine-like sirloin from Australia ($1.80 an ounce) and the fattier American prime ($1.95 an ounce) arrive from the grill oozing juice and flavor. And unlike fish-by-the-pound deals where you are shocked to learn you owe $80 for some innocuous pisces—here you specify twelve, fourteen, or sixteen ounces, so there are no surprises. A daunting ration of chewy grilled short ribs is a beef-lover’s thrill. Options for non–meat-eaters, too. Not everything we tasted is equally seductive, but your carnivore probably won’t care.
Hacienda de Argentina
339 East 75th Street

In the Archives

June 23, 2003
Paradou, Ethos, 'inoteca; the city's top five iced teas; Danny Meyer's peanuts of desire; fresh from the farm veggies; local strawberries; Gael goes back in time at Sarge's Deli.

June 16, 2003
Ulysses, Zerza Bar, Pepe Rosso, Cafeteria at the Met; Mermaid Inn's lobster roll; Coach Farm's new fat-filled cheese; ice cream and cookies at 'Wichcraft; fiesta feast at Dos Caminos SoHo.

June 9, 2003
Kitsch, Ida Mae Kitchen-n-Lounge, Summit Restaurant and Lounge, Westville; Chocolate Bar's sweet treats; Monkey Bar's great steak.

More Openings & Buzz

Photos: Kenneth Chen (1, 3), Carina Salvi (2, 4, 6), Liz Steger.

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