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Week of September 24, 2001
The Underground Gourmet
You Want Frites With That?
What will the French think? Even to us, F&B's new fast-food take on steak-frites ($7.50, served in a Chinese-takeout-style carton) sounds as wrongheaded as a $27 hamburger. All the more surprising, then, for us to admit -- as we dueled with our two-pronged wooden forklets for the last crispy Belgian-style fry and tasty strip of garlic-buttered meat -- that it (and its $7.25 chicken-frites counterpart) actually works. Deliciously.
269 West 23rd Street

Object of Desire
Golden Goose
Apparently, The Dining Room hasn't been paying attention to those what's-in-what's-out lists, and we couldn't be happier. Just when our jaded taste buds thought they'd had it with foie gras -- the second-rate variety as ubiquitous on menus as mesclun salads, the grade-A type done in by weird treatments like a fever-pitched drizzle of chocolate syrup -- along comes a save-the-day stroke of genius from chef Mark Spangenthal. He pairs the silky, sautéed stuff with delicate mounds of baby basmati rice; nutty, curry-spiced "beluga" lentils; a mini-plum tart; and (foam-phobes, beware) a frothy coconut-curry sauce, all to stunning textural effect.

The Dining Room
154 East 79th Street

In Print
Nobu Tells All
In his first cookbook, Nobu Matsuhisa shares the secrets of his trend-setting new-style sashimi, his often-copied black cod with miso, and his sea-urchin tempura (a "Tim Zagat favorite!"). And in case that's not reason enough to spring for Nobu: The Cookbook (Kodansha; $37), the TriBeCan titan has snagged a preface from Robert De Niro and a foreword from Martha Stewart, who gushes that Matsuhisa "has changed the karma of Japanese food for me forever." Sprinkled among the intriguing recipes and stunning photographs are an aji-to-yuzu glossary, a shopping guide, and helpful tips on how to de-slime octopus and the proper way to eat sushi (dip the topping, not the rice).
105 Hudson St.

Best of the Week
Delmonico Donates, September 24 to 28
This week, 50 cents of every dollar spent at Delmonico's -- the financial-district restaurant that's still soldiering on after 175 years -- will go to the families of firefighters and cops who died at the World Trade Center.
56 Beaver St., at South Williams St.

Ask Gael

We need to escape and pretend it never happened.

Slip into the bar at the Chambers Hotel after dinner anywhere and lose yourself in the tingling tropical illusion of the cocktail called Passion -- Moët Brut Rose blended with a purée of fresh passion fruit (pictured, with café brulot and chocolate beignets). Tables in the richly padded balcony lounge let you look down the cascades of crystal droplets to the diners lingering in Town below as the two of you share apple strudel under shingles of lusciously pungent cheddar, or the chocolate gratin with rose marmalade and raspberries. Or ask to see the list of premium teas -- green-tea anemone in a rosette or Dragon Pearl "rolled from a perfect spring leaf and bud" -- if only to muse for a moment, and maybe laugh, at how serious we could be in our petty obsessions only days ago.

15 West 56th Street

Bites & Buzz Archive
Week of September 17
Osteria del Circo's new chefs; Gael's pre-theatre dining picks
Week of September 10
Spots for surf 'n' turf; AZ's visiting chefs; Gael on Teodora
Week of September 3
Killer tomatoes; Saturdays at Ducasse; Chef Gary Robins at Mi; Gael on Danzon

and more ...

Photos: Carina Salvi (2); book cover; Patrik Rytikangas.

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