March 22, 2004
“Nightclub-lounge-restaurant” isn’t the most promising hyphenate, but we’re guardedly optimistic about the prospects of BLVD, a new Latin-Asian restaurant opening this week in an 18,000-square-foot entertainment complex on the Bowery. That’s because Julian Alonzo, an investor and consultant, is overseeing the menu, and we’ve tasted his refined, inventive food, first at Sea Grill, then at Brasserie 81⁄2, where he’s executive chef. Let’s just hope the exotic charms of red-snapper seviche with strawberries and persimmon, bison empanadas, and orange-crusted scallops with edamame-spearmint purée aren’t lost amid the rampant lounging and clubbing.
“There are 400 types of kofte in Turkey,” says Ahmet Burhan, manager of Picnic, the new West Village restaurant specializing in skewered, grilled ground meat. “Each town or village has its own.” The same cannot be said of New York—yet. But if Burhan and his third-generation-restaurateur boss Ihsan Aydogan have their way, Picnic’s minced-lamb-and-beef kofte will soon proliferate throughout Manhattan, with four more locations planned to open this year. The menu extends to meze, shish kebab, and clay-pot casseroles, but Picnic takes obvious pride in its kofte, which are traditionally consumed, according to Burhan, with piyazi, a white-bean salad, followed by sutlac, or rice pudding—a Turkish Happy Meal.
100 Seventh Avenue South
Marc Murphy has dropped the Asian and Tex-Mex inflections of his most recent gigs at Chinoiserie and SouthWest NY to return to his French-cuisine roots—sort of. Landmarc, opening next week in the two-story space previously occupied by the Independent, is part bistro, part trattoria, and part steakhouse, where the menu lists goat-cheese profiteroles and moules frites alongside five cuts of beef and just as many sauces. Weekly pasta specials like spaghetti alla carbonara and “the true” linguine with clams vie with daily specials like boudin noir and veal kidneys. If you can’t decide what to order for dinner, at least dessert’s a no-brainer: Try all six for $15.
179 West Broadway
For the past eight years, brothers Michael and Robert Eigen have been showcasing young jewelry designers’ work at their Carnegie Hill store; now, in a sliver of a space next door, they’re selling something with a little more age on it. Their wine shop, Premier Cru, is small and selective, its inventory displayed on stylish aluminum shelving. Rather than focus on any particular region or style, the Eigens rely on their own diverse tastes, and the emphasis on half-bottles seems to be an outgrowth of their other career, where they learned that good things do come in small packages.
1200 Madison Avenue, near 88th Street
object of desire
Gourmet ramen may seem like an oxymoron to anyone who associates the beloved Japanese dish with either wild slurping and snorting or with impecunious college dining. But that’s the best way to describe Sumile’s new luxury model. Chef Josh DeChellis flavors his rich squab consommé with shoyu, mirin, and ginger juice, adds fresh noodles, and tops the dish off with rare-roasted sliced squab, steamed foie gras, enoki mushrooms, a hard-cooked quail egg, and tiny bits of chestnut. It’s only half the size of a typical bowl of ramen, and meant to be eaten as one of several elegant small-plate courses. Slurping is optional.
154 West 13th Street
the underground gourmet
The Upper Crust
Olive oil hogs the spotlight, but the bread steals the show.
If you are impressed by the fennel- and-green-olive mustard that dresses your superb roast-turkey-and-provolone sandwich at La Table O & Co., the exceedingly friendly, if overwhelmed, staff will be only too happy to sell you a three-and-a-half-ounce jar for $11.50. That’s the bright synergistic idea, of course, behind this new Soho shop, which brings together under one lofty roof the lush olive oils and Mediterranean spreads of Provençal parent company Oliviers & Co. and the beauty products (olive-oil-paste hair detangler, anyone?) of L’Occitane. What’s most impressive about that turkey sandwich, though, is the amazing organic-flour baguette it’s on. All the bread is baked on the premises under the supervision of Pascal Rigo, the San Francisco–based chef and baker who’s signed on to run O & Co.’s American cafés. Although Rigo’s croissants, sticky buns, madeleines, and toothsome tarts are also here, along with small plates like baby lamb chops with ratatouille and truffle-oiled semolina dumplings, it’s still the bread and sandwiches that stand out—with one ironic exception: The otherwise commendable pan bagnat—Italian canned tuna, hard-cooked eggs, peppers, and haricots verts, stuffed into a hollowed-out boule—was a tad dry. Could’ve used more olive oil. Rob Patronite
92 Prince Street
Tell me what’s really worth a trip to Brooklyn.
Chef Polo Dobkin’s proud father dragged me to Williamsburg, kicking and grumbling, for dinner at DuMont, casual, cheap, and very young. Tucking into the hearty portions of lamb ragout with gnocchi, braised short ribs, and thick-sliced duck breast with a poblano tamale and celery has made me a commuter. I’ve already been back with pals, pleased to share grilled endive and radicchio with goat cheese, luscious gingered tuna tartare, the special grilled leg of lamb, and . . . impossible to resist, the mac-and-cheese, a creamy and crusted swamp studded with radiatore pasta. At its launch, DuMont (named for a sign that owner Colin Devlin found a block away) was a laid-back burger joint, until Dobkin and co-chef Cal Elliot (formerly of the Dining Room in Manhattan) came on with new ambition. The cheese plate shows how serious they are. My gripes are an occasional over-reduced sauce, and having to wait in line for a table with the neighborhood swarm that quickly fills the tiny bar. Once it gets balmy, the garden will double the space.
432 Union Avenue, Brooklyn