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Restaurant Openings & Buzz

Week of May 2, 2005: Bar Minnow, Grill 44, Dopey Benny's. Plus, adventurous eating with Gael Greene.

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Openings
Bar Minnow
Realizing that few can resist the deep-fried allure of a paper-coneful of fried clams, Aaron Bashy is giving his Le Bernardin–trained brain a rest to open Bar Minnow, a casual spot a couple of storefronts down from his seafood shrine, the Minnow. Oyster po’ boys, onion rings, fish sandwiches, and lobster rolls are on the menu. And having grown up in New England, and thus well aware of the fact that a clam bar is not a clam bar without a great burger, he’ll be flipping those, too: “I want to be the P. J. Clarke’s of Park Slope,” he says.
444 9th St., at Seventh Ave., Park Slope, Brooklyn; 718-832-5500


Grill 44
Outer-borough kebab fiends are well-acquainted with the charcoal-grilled charms of Eastern Feast, a Brighton Beach meat-on-a-stick mecca that appeared one day in an unlikely corner of Mrs. Stahl’s Knishes. Last month, one of its former owners branched out into midtown Manhattan with Grill 44. In addition to lamb, chicken, beef, and fish kebabs, the Mediterranean menu offers the Grand Central neighborhood affordable lunchtime relief in the form of Middle Eastern dips and salads, herb-flecked falafel, and shawarma sandwiches served on pita or low-carb wraps.
160 E. 44th St., nr. Third Ave.; 212-949-0245


Dopey Benny’s
Need every cheesesteak, by definition, be Philly-style? Not according to George Doneson, who with his partner Ron True has just opened Dopey Benny’s, a proudly provincial New York–style cheesesteak dispensary. The City of Brotherly Love might be known for its gooey grease bombs, but, says Doneson, “basically they all taste the same.” To stand out from the rapidly proliferating pack, Dopey’s—named for the infamous Jewish gangster and local legend, Benjamin Fein—serves multiethnic renditions like Korean, southern barbecue, Italian, and Mexican, with chicken or tofu alternatives to the basic beef. And rather than the behemoths available elsewhere, Dopey Benny’s steaks are miniature and come three for $6.
147 E. Houston St., nr. Eldridge St.; 212-979-0246

And . . .
Mario Batali’s GelOtto cart has returned to Washington Square Park, where it sets a spiffy Italian example for New York’s pedestrian Good Humor fleet.

At the new Tre Dici, chef Giuseppe Fanelli, a veteran of Baldoria and Felidia, specializes in homemade pastas, custardy vegetable flans, and paper-thin pizzas (128 W. 26th St., nr. Seventh Ave.; 212-243-8183).

Now that Whitestone’s Cooking With Jazz has lost its lease, chef Luis Cardenas has brought his gumbo, jambalaya, and étouffée to the rambunctious new French Quarter (102 E. 25th St., nr. Park Ave. S.; 212-598-4555).

New-branch news: Snipped-to-order pizza at Pie (1542 Second Ave., nr. 80th St.; 212-517-5017) and gourmet sandwiches at ’wichcraft (397 Greenwich St., at Beach St.; 866-942-4272).

Sides
Strong Stomachs The squeamish might think twice about attending the 92nd Street Y’s “Adventurous Eating” panel on May 4. Everyone else, no doubt, will relish whatever gruesome details moderator Gael Greene can wring out of Fergus Henderson, British chef and author of The Whole Beast: Nose to Tail Eating, and “Molto” Mario Batali, his equal in omnivorousness. Lidia Bastianich shares the stage. (Call 212-415-5500, or 92y.org.)

Fond Farewell Before chef Andrew Carmellini bids adieu to the Daniel empire and his longtime home on the Café Boulud range, he’ll work his final, sure to be sentimental shift May 8, which happens to be Mother’s Day. Fans and families can opt for an à la carte lunch or a $95 prix fixe dinner—$45 for children (20 E. 76th St., nr. Madison Ave.; 212-772-2600).

Recharging the Battery Much of P.J. Clarke’s charm lies in its nooks and crannies, its historic paraphernalia, and its modestly sized hamburgers. It remains to be seen just how much of that successful formula translates to the sprawling outpost opening this summer at 4 World Financial Center.


Ordering In
Spice
60 University Pl., at 10th St.; 212-982-3758

Time: Order placed at 9 P.M. Sunday.

Distance: Two blocks.

Estimated Delivery Time: 30–45 minutes.

Order: Curry puffs, warm duck salad, panang curry with tofu, “green-lime” snapper, Mekong aged pork chop.

Arrival: Twenty-six minutes later, our buzzer buzzed and we had our Thai feast before us. Presentation and packaging were fine if slightly sloppy (orange panang-curry sauce oozed out onto the rim of the container). Food wasn’t piping hot, but overall fresh and satisfying, and spicing was well balanced, if not anywhere close to lip-numbing.

Clunker Alert: Although the pork “chop” turned out to be two sizable pork chops, they were overcooked and underwhelming.

Price: $43.30, not including tip.





Rating: Out of a possible four plastic forks.


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