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Counter Offer

Counter is now giving away free appetizers at the bar Sunday through Thursday.

By Daniel Maurer

Singer-Songwriter Vanessa Carlton Indeed Loves Ruby's in the Afternoon

Vanessa Carlton
In her single “Nolita Fairytale,” Vanessa Carlton sings about her love of “Ruby's in the afternoon”— a reference to her favorite neighborhood hang. “It’s the best people-watching,” she says of Ruby’s. “Everyone looks like they’re out of an editorial shoot for some hip magazine. But it’s not posey.” Other favorites near the “Nolita flat on rent control” she famously exalts? La Esquina (“I love to get takeout or to just sit at the front taco bar”), Freemans (“I think it wins the devils-on-horseback competition with the Spotted Pig”), and N (“the best chorizo I’ve ever had”). We asked her whether this week found her at any of the above.

Monkey Bar Gets Hit; Three Stars for Café Boulud

Paul Adams liked some things about Monkey Bar, but it’s never a good sign if you hire a famous Chinese chef (Patricia Yeo) and the review includes the words “My neighborhood Chinese takeout does better dumplings.” [NYS] Café Boulud, in an important rereview, gets three stars — enough to add momentum to Daniel Boulud’s empire building. [NYT] Insieme looks dull, observes Lauren Collins in The New Yorker, but “profligate flavor and spirited service” show themselves once the food starts coming. [NYer]

Summer Brings Hot Dogs, Barbecue, and Department-Store Salads

Summer is upon us at last, and with it come the inevitable summer foods: hot dogs, barbecue, snap peas, salad … and pappardelle with truffles and butter. Well, not every food consumed in the hot months is inevitable. But this issue comes packed with hot-weather options. The Underground Gourmet reviews Willie’s Dawgs and PDT, the new chic cocktail lounge attached to Crif Dogs (you’ll have to read to understand). The city’s most ambitious barbecue opening yet happens this week; Gael Greene is very taken with Aurora Soho’s reverse commute; Pichet Ong takes off from the dessert business to create a killer sugar-snap-pea recipe; and Rob and Robin offer both a guide to the city’s top department-store salads and a quiz to determine your green-eats quotient, a test which only the most narrowly focused carnivore could possibly fail.