These are high times we’re living in. Every stratum of society has something going for it. On the tippy top, the wine-swilling swells who frequent Adour can enjoy what, in Adam Platt’s view, is three-star cuisine. And their fellow plutocrats will enjoy South Gate’s posh but lively room and Gael Greene–approved food (well, except for the clams). But for the rest of us, Rob and Robin have a panoply of awarding options: There are the spring-inspired rhubarb hamantaschen made by Emily Isaac at Trois Pommes Patisserie; an interview the Robs did with Momofuku man Joaquin Baca, who now is doing the menu for world-class dive bar the Rusty Knot; and, adding to this embarrassment of riches, takeout sweets from Pichet Ong’s Batch, and a very appealing-sounding little Tuscan restaurant on Bleecker Street. On top of everything else, crackling is the latest snack trend. Good times, friends. Good times.
Having pawed and pondered this week's Best of New York issue endlessly, we knew that the only way we could possibly make up our minds about it was to pester Adam Platt into giving us his thoughts on why he made his picks, who he had to leave out, and what his reasoning was. Since Platt is always readily available on IM, the following chat answered our questions and made our peace with his picks.
Presidents’ Day is a holiday for Grub Street, but, thankfully, there’s enough in this week’s magazine to read till we return tomorrow. Daniel Boulud, whom Adam Platt respects as the Last Great French Chef, falls down in his new restaurant and gets only one star. In this week's "Openings," Rob and Robin introduce us to Olana (American with Italian influences) and marvel at Akhtar Nawab and Noel Cruz for putting a restaurant where Jimi Hendrix used to (reportedly) play. At Momofuku Ssäm Bar, Rob and Robin find the mind-bending “Frankensteak”: hanger steak that is literally glued to world-class rib-eye deckle. The Insatiable Critic falls for Fiore, a funky, rustic Italian place in Williamsburg; for those at risk of scurvy, pickled lemon is in "In Season" this week. But if you want a drink, you’ll find a guide to the city’s top boutique wineshops by the Gastropoda herself, Regina Schrambling.
Well, here’s some news the food world will find welcome: Adam Platt is so won over by the Upper West Side’s Dovetail that he has gone and awarded the place three stars. And in further good news, Merkato 55, Marcus Samuelsson’s much-awaited African restaurant, finally opens its doors in the meatpacking district, as Rob and Robin report in this week’s Openings. On the other side of the trendiness spectrum, the 2nd Avenue Deli comes under the gaze of Gael Greene, and the Insatiable Critic likes what she sees. Add in a fine sangria recipe, and you have plenty to chew on in this week’s magazine.
Reading this week’s magazine — or at least the food-related parts of it — had its own special rhythm. First came the shock and guilty excitement of reading Adam Platt’s review of Bar Blanc, which he liked, and Brasserie 44, which he didn't zero stars. In a week with only one opening (Bridge Vineyards Tasting Room), Rob and Robin taught us how to make guacamole (there's a video, too!) and turned us on to the rebellious risotto at Dell’anima. They also found local treats that are globally inspired and clued us in on the rabbits multiplying across city menus. Gael Greene managed to get a table in the early days of Chop Suey, and her pre-pre-pre-review is favorable.
For those of you who only know Adam Platt from his mordant restaurant reviews and IM chats, the next best thing is Friday’s interview with Mike Colameco on "Food Talk." Colameco has been on a tear lately recent guests have included Frank Bruni, Tom Colicchio, and Marco Pierre White. But there’s only one Platt. You won’t get the hangdog expression, the pumpkin-size head, the blinking, beady eyes, but you’ll get a sense of what Platt is like in person. Listen to the MP3 to find out what Platt’s looking forward to in 2008.
Adam Platt on WOR’S Food Talk [mp3]
New York City hasn’t been kind to Alain Ducasse. But after reading this week’s big feature on the world’s most-starred chef and his latest effort to make New York love him, we find it hard to believe that he doesn’t have a fighting chance. Adam Platt somehow manages to appreciate delicacy this week and gives Smith’s an enthusiastic two-star review. Finally, Rob and Robin bring us two things sure to warm the insides of any New Yorker in January: Charles Gabriel’s collard greens and the hot cocktails at three of New York’s best bars.
Sweet glory, Shake Shack reopens today at 11:30! You can call ahead to place your order, but you won’t be enjoying the new heaters until next week. [Eater]
The British agree: Adam Platt's term “haute barnyard” defines the prevailing dining trend. [Guardian]
Related: The Haute Barnyard Hall of Fame
The manager of Sarabeth’s on Central Park South caught a 50-year-old thief taking $27 from her pocketbook over the weekend. [NYP]
New York's Adam Platt has finally surfaced from the food trough. In between gasps, he has cobbled together his annual list of where you should be eating in the New Year. Platt's got a bead on Italian small plates, which no-reservations restaurants to wait on line for, and what expensive meal is actually worth an entire paycheck. If all of that is too much to digest, Platt has bites of wisdom to guide you through 2008: his ten favorite new restaurants, the best up-and-coming chefs, and where to take your father-in-law for dinner, among others.
So read up and start making reservations. We have to attend to Platt, who is up to his ears in pork and tear-stained menus.
Adam Platt's Where to Eat in 2008 [NYM]
Earlier:Platt: "The State of the Dining Nation Is Sound"
In this week's magazine, the long-shanked Adam Platt takes his appetite to Irving Mill, a new haute barnyard venue that seems to take more than a few pages from Danny Meyer’s book. Platt doesn’t outright dismiss the place for lack of originality, but he’s keenly aware of the joint’s “carefully calculated” vibe, with a menu that’s “worthy and competent without being particularly daring or new.” In the end, he single-stars the Mill, noting that the “stolid cooking and the warm and cozy atmosphere” make up for the uninspired menu.
Not a glowing review, but not a total rip, either. You might think only the most feverish members of the Greenmarket cult would find any real offense in Platt’s assessment — that is, until you check out the lively comments section, where something becomes very clear: The flacks hath been offended! To wit, a sampler of telltale phrases:
This week, Rob Patronite and Robin Raisfeld herald the impending return of the Second Avenue Deli with a peppery interview with owner Jeremy Lebewohl. Expect deep-fried chicken skins at every table, he says. Beats a bread basket. Irving Mill managed to extract a grudging single star out of the Haute Barnyard–phobic Adam Platt, and the Smith, despite a business plan dedicated to filling NYU students with “almost burnt” macaroni and cheese, was able to sway Gael Greene, no sucker for comfort food. Will the new restaurants be so lucky? The Robs introduce us to a high-concept townhouse restaurant, a grass-fed-burger joint, and a progressive Italian spot. And when you get cold from running around outside trying new restaurants, you can sip a nice hot chocolate. The Underground Gourmet found the best cups in the city.
With the recent news that the celebrated Charlie Trotter might be opening up an outpost here in New York, our thoughts turned to the whole phenomenon of out-of-town chefs and their usually disastrous forays to New York. We thought to contact our dour friend Adam Platt to see what kind of world-weary wisdom he might dispense on the subject. As expected, the big man had deep thoughts at the ready, and we transcribed our exchange for posterity, in case Charlie Trotter wants something to put on his refrigerator.
The magazine’s content this week, which is copious, compelling, and diverse, is also curious. How in the world did Adam Platt give Primehouse New York the two stars we thought it deserves? Is it possible that the big man is softening? Likewise, we expected Gael Greene to be skeptical about Shelly’s La Tradizionale, a Shelly Fireman restaurant that was Shelly’s New York just a few short months ago — but instead she’s agog over the Italian seafood. Rob and Robin devise a guide to group dinners in the city, an antidote to the annual stress of holiday gatherings. For Hanukkah, they consulted with Julian Medina of Toloache for a Mexican take on latkes. Plus, there’s plenty of news in the openings department: Philoxenia makes a welcome return to Astoria, and Rheon Café brings high-tech Japanese restaurant equipment to New York.
This week’s issue carries a lot of freight, and there isn’t much room for consideration of the gluttonous arts. So the food content is slim — but potent! Adam Platt reviews two of the most anticipated debuts in recent years, those of genius dessert chef Sam Mason’s Tailor and Beard Award–winning chef Fabio Trabocchi’s New York debut at Fiamma. But that’s not all: There’s an In Season recipe for turkey-salad sandwiches, excuse us, tramezzini di tacchino, courtesy of ’inoteca’s Eric Kleinman; a guide to four very excellent Thanksgiving alternatives courtesy of Rob and Robin; and four new hotel restaurants likewise. We figured that with all the eating and cooking that’s going on this week, that should be plenty of food writing to get you by.
After seeing that our good friend Adam Platt awarded Allen & Delancey, a restaurant we especially admire, a measly two stars, we decided to confront him with his misjudgment, and request – nay, demand! – that he explain and even justify his method of awarding stars to us. We knew it was an argument we couldn't win, and what's more that we shouldn't win, given the fact that Platt is arguably the city's top critic, but we also know he would respond to us like the big baited bear that he is. The debate played out via our favorite medium, Instant Messenger.
“The doctrine of seasonal correctness is as ingrained in the collective restaurant psyche, these day, as linen napkins, pre-dinner cocktails, and superfluous baskets of bread,” Adam Platt writes in his review of Park Avenue Autumn, and who are we to argue? The combined efforts of Platt, the Robs, and Gael Greene all point to the triumph of the seasonal aesthetic. But that’s not to say they aren’t fun. Platt gives two stars to Park Avenue Autumn, Gael seems fairly pleased with Irving Mill, and the Robs introduce three restaurants (Lunetta, Bacaro, and Smith's) that are all about fresh ingredients, as well as a recipe for Bosc pears that is, of course, in season. Meanwhile, back at the Greenmarket, a long-overdue crusade against plastic bags is at work. And, though not an expression of the Haute Barnyard mystique, it's very much a sign of the times: PDT has named a hot dog for David Chang — proof that the Original Soupman has made it to the big time at last.