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Borough Food & Drink

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Jeffrey Chodorow Begins Investing in the Little Guy

News that Borough Food and Drink was being taken over by Zak Pelaccio had some Chodorow watchers scratching their heads. How could China Grill Management be involved in a restaurant and not control it? General Chod tells us that, far from being a departure from his operating system, CGM’s boutique operation is just his latest innovation. “There’s 20th Century Fox for big projects, and then also Fox Searchlight Pictures. That’s what this would be like,” he says, crediting Pelaccio with the analogy. (How long did he mull that one?)

Citywide Truffle Shortage; A New Eastside Fro-Yo Foe

A citywide truffle shortage can explain why “the Waverly Inn jacked up the price of its infamous truffle-topped mac & cheese from $55 to $85. The dish was an amusing punch line at $55; at $85, it's just obscene.” [NYP] Related: Le Cirque Bids High for Monster Truffle Bruni eschews all the courtesies one suffers at the dinner table, which he refers to as restaurantspeak: “Would I ‘enjoy coffee with dessert?’ I don’t know; it depends how good the coffee is. I’ll have some, yes, then we’ll see.” [NYT] FR.OG has now lost Jean Georges alum chef Didier Virot to the Plaza’s new restaurant-to-be, the Palm Court, set to open later this year. [Diner’s Journal/NYT]

Borough Food and Drink Kills the Retail Counter

The relaunching of Borough Food and Drink under Zak Pelaccio has already begun in earnest, but in an unexpected way: The restaurant has given its retail counter, one of the main pillars of its identity, the heave-ho. Why? More drinking space was needed! “The bar was getting too crowded,” BFD representative Meryl Scheinman tells us. “We loved the retail area, but it created a bottleneck. This makes it more welcoming, less crowded, and warms the room up a little.” Other big changes — you know, the ones to the menu — are still in the works, but intel is under wraps as of right now. In the meantime, if you didn’t get your Bosnian butter or Brighton Beach Russian bacon at the now-defunct counter, our condolences. Commiserate over a drink at the spacious bar, perhaps? Related: Zak Pelaccio Taking Over Borough Food and Drink From Jeffrey Chodorow

Market Table Already Bumpin’

Market Table
Market Table has opened for both lunch and dinner with little fanfare, and what we hear today predicts future success. Chef-owner Joey Campanero tells us that he did two and a half turns at lunch today (roughly 100 customers). Plus, the retail counter is cha-chinging away. The biggest seller, Campanero says, is the burger. No surprise, given that it's made from the same magic meat found in burgers at the Spotted Pig, Stand, Borough Food and Drink, City Hall, and even (though not exactly) the Shake Shack. Expect a tough table: the place is even smaller than the Little Owl, Campanero ’s perpetually packed West Village favorite. Related: Shop Like a Chef (Preferably in His Own Store)

Gemma Rewarded for Its Calculations; Tailor Makes a Fan

Frank Bruni, surprisingly grants Gemma a single star. Bruni sees the place as a slicker, less technically accomplished Morandi — an insta-enoteca calculated to the nth degree to please modern middlebrows. Which, we guess, is worth a single star these days. [NYT] Ryan Sutton is, as usual, the first to review Tailor, which he finds a molecular wonderland of trippy but delicious foods: exactly what a certain kind of restaurantgoer needs to hear to get the buzz going. [Bloomberg] Moira Hodgson thinks that Alex Ureña's new direction at Pamplona — modern, imaginative Spanish cookery minus the bells and whistles — is exactly what he needed and rewards him with two stars. “So this is bistro food? I don’t care what he calls it, it’s great.” [NYO]

Borough Food and Drink Solves a Sudden Chef Crisis

Earlier this month, Frank Bruni assailed Borough Food and Drink for its service, referring to it as “loopy, stop-and-go befuddlement.” How did that happen in a Jeffrey Chodorow restaurant? Turns out chef Paul Williams took ill and Bruni visited during his absence. Williams has taken a temporary leave from the restaurant, a publicist says, and the kitchen is now under the control of former Asia de Cuba chef Robert Trainor, an old Chodorow hand. No word yet on when Williams will return, but we hope it’s soon. Related: Dining Briefs [NYT]

Bruni Finds Bar Stuzzichini Good Enough; Sietsema Worships Insieme

Frank Bruni gives Bar Stuzzichini one star, praising its small plates (which give him his obligatory Zeitgeist paragraphs at the top) and then pointing out that the room and service are basically that of a “midtown mess hall.” The moral? Aim low, price right, and execute, and the critics will give you the guarded praise you need to stay open. [NYT] Here's one we never would have predicted in a million years: Insieme getting the panegyric it deserves from Robert “horsehead soup in the Bronx” Sietsema. Interestingly, the one thing he didn't like was the lasagne, which was the place's proudest boast when it first opened. [VV] We predicted recently that it was just a matter of time before someone came down on Wakiya, but we never dreamed it would be Danyelle Freeman. She hits the place hard, mostly for the “dull” and “skimpy” food but, not a killer at heart, gives them credit for service, cocktails, and soup dumplings. But it won't be long before another, meaner critic really lets it fly. [NYND]

Franny’s Gets the All-Purpose Two Stars; Southern Hospitality Praised for Its BBQ

Franny’s is the recipient of one of Frank Bruni’s periodic low-end caprices, and gets awarded an absurd two stars as a result. [NYT] Paul Lukas, a pretty serious student of barbecue, delivers the verdict on the new barbecues, and the surprise is that Southern Hospitality has some pretty damn good Memphis ribs. Hill Country, it goes without saying, gets lauded as the best BBQ in town. [NYS] Related: Insatiable Critic: Southern Hospitality “Rivulets of delicious grease are a common theme” is the key note to Paul Adams's review of Borough Food and Drink. Mmmm…grease…. [NYS]

Fatty Crab Chef's Mom Makes Fatty Chocolate

Fatty Chocolate
Fatty Crab chef Corwin Kave is living our childhood fantasy: His mom owns a candy store. Roni-Sue Kave first introduced diners to her buttercrunch at Borough Food & Drink through the good offices of Zak Pelaccio, the restaurant’s consulting chef. It was first sold at the retail counter, but now demand has put it on the menu. Kave’s store at the Essex Street Market will stock her even better fruit-flavored chocolate truffles. We had a little tasting here at the Grub Street offices, and each one was better than the last. There is none of the disgusting, cloying sweetness or gag-inducing cream innards you find in most fruit-filled chocolates. These taste like actual fruit (strawberry-rhubarb, mango) with a dark-chocolate oomph. Does Corwin have a sister? With food this good running in the family, we’ll marry her sight unseen.

Wild Salmon Saved by Salmon; Borough Food and Drink Gets Bronx Cheer

As it has in so many other reviews, Wild Salmon's raison d'être saves it from getting hammered. The excellence of the title fish is no longer in question. [NYT] Related: Salmon Cured? [NYM] Borough Food and Drink meets the world of criticism with a three- (of six) star review from Randall Lane, who finds its tribute to New York’s foods redundant and “leaden.” [TONY] On Avenue Z (where else would you expect to find him?), Sietsema alights upon Temada, one of the city's few Georgian restaurants, and is entranced by their turnovers, kebabs, and French fries. [VV]

Cheap Eats est Arrivé!

The annual Cheap Eats issue arrives this week and represents, as usual, a massive compendium of low-end gastronomic wisdom. The Underground Gourmet round up some of the city’s very best cheap eats in the main section, but Adam Platt also weighs in on what passes for cheap in the city’s high-end places, some top chefs give their own picks, and three of the city’s greenmarket specialists vie to outdo each other not just in locavorism but also in “cheapavorism.” Add to that laser-focused profiles on burgers, barbecue, and Korean fried chicken, and you have a Cheap Eats supplement to put all others to shame.

Latin Flavor to Bring Spice Back to the Porn Emporium in Clinton Hill

Clinton Hill: Residents glad to see Tamboril Latin restaurant replacing a porn emporium, assuming the space is properly sanitized. [Clinton Hill Blog] An Italian restaurant with an exposed-brick interior will open in the space next to Joseph Tyler Salon on Myrtle Avenue. [Clinton Hill Blog] Coney Island: Not all attendees of Nathan’s hot-dog binge yesterday were there to bask in the gluttony of the contest; costumed protesters encouraged meat eaters to “Give Peas a Chance.” [Gowanus Lounge] Flatiron: Pixar’s latest film got you hungry? Borough Food & Drink is among the city’s restaurants now serving ratatouille, and its version is topped with cheese from Joe’s Dairy. [NYDN] Gowanus: The 60-year-old Italian-foods market on President Street has closed and may make way for a café from the owners of neighboring Canal Bar. [Gowanus Lounge] Gramercy: Ian Schrager’s high-end Asian restaurant Wakiya in the Gramercy Park Hotel is now taking reservations from July 24 onward. [Eater] Harlem: From 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. Saturday, Uptown Vets will host this month’s man-and-beast coffee mingle at St. Nick’s Dog Park. [Uptown Flavor] Prospect Park: The Grand Army Plaza Greenmarket accepts credit cards. [NYT]

Landmarc Steals More Stars; Mercat Earns First Kudos

Frank Bruni inexplicably grants a star to a restaurant with zero ambience, overdone pastas, “tame entrées,” and a “loud” room that’s “dreary at night.” Which is what Adam Platt and everybody else said about Landmarc TWC, though without granting a star for the accomplishment. [NYT] Related: Off the Mark [NYM] Landmarc somehow coaxed three of six stars out of Randall Lane, despite comparable comments on uneven food and a room filled with rebars. The wine list seems to have been the saving grace. [TONY] Mobbed Mercat gets the Paul Adams seal of approval, its first major positive review, which compares it favorably to Boqueria and praises it for special authenticity. Only the desserts are denied praise, and at that point in the review, it hardly matters. [NYS]

Zak Pelaccio Goes on a Shopping Spree for Borough Food and Drink

For city gastronomes (we won’t say chowhounds), there are three reasons to be excited about Borough Food and Drink, the Jeffrey Chodorow and Zak Pelaccio gastropub opening this week. First, there’s Z-Man’s return to the kind of freewheeling, Eurocentric fare that he used to do at Williamsburg’s Chickenbone Café, back before he became an Asian-food guru. (Pelaccio created the menu and trained the staff but will not be cooking at the restaurant.)