Akhtar Nawab, the talented chef who turned around E.U.’s fortunes, is expecting to leave, Grub Street has learned. “We’re planning something, and we are looking at a space,” Nawab told us. The new restaurant, which Nawab will open with Dani operating partner Noel Cruz, will be on West 8th Street. The menu will reflect casual but sophisticated Mediterranean food “something like the original Craftbar,” Nawab explained. (This style is in contrast to earlier rumors, which aligned the new venture with Nawab’s more upscale Allen and Delancey model before he parted from that project.) Nawab was reluctant to present any sort of timeline; he will leave E.U. “soon,” but the new restaurant likely won’t open until late winter or spring.
UPDATE: We spoke to Nawab yesterday and misunderstood. Though he will open a new restaurant, he plans to stay on at E.U. Grub Street regrets the error, our bad, etc.
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Astoria: Anthony Bourdain featured Ali’s Kebab Cafe on No Reservations, and here’s the video of him downing offal. [Joey in Astoria]
Boerum Hill: Workers are renovating the old Independence Bank for Trader Joe’s. The space may even retain its character! [Lost City]
East Village: AvroKO and Public boys Brad and Adam Farmerie hope to score a liquor license for their new place, Superior. B Flat applied for a license at the same Bond Street space a few months back and was denied. [Eater] E.U. will accept euros as payment from August 24 through Labor Day. You can eat 34 cents more on the dollar! [Grub Street]
Financial District: Stonehouse California Olive Oil has moved to the South Street Seaport and refills bottles at $2 off the regular price. [NYT]
Hell’s Kitchen: No free Cuban for you today; unfinished construction indicates the new Sophie’s on 40th between Seventh and Eighth is in no way ready for a grand opening. [Midtown Lunch]
We’re coming into prime-time soft-shell-crab season, and we're about to leave ramps behind us. So tonight’s special at European Union, sautéed soft-shell crabs with pickled ramps ($16), is something not to miss. The crabs coming up from Maryland are bigger and fatter than the ones seen earlier in the season, one reason chef Akhtar Nawab put the dish on the menu. Says Nawab, “The soft-shells are so nice right now, meaty, sweet, and really soft. They’re alive when we get them. The pickled ramps really cut the richness and tenderness of the crab with a nice garlicky and crunchy bite.” Nawab freely offers that he didn’t invent the idea of pairing ramps with crabs, but EU makes the dish their own by also adding pickled red onions, baby leeks, and (for a trace of sweetness) cipollini onions braised in red wine and honey. Be warned, though — even the meatiest soft-shell crab isn’t going to sate you. Be prepared to order a couple, and think twice about sharing them. In another couple of weeks the dish will be a memory.
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