Fiamma’s Menu a Fraction of Its Former Self
The City Council passed a watered-down version of Mayor Bloomberg’s proposal to place produce carts in low-income neighborhoods. The new plan cuts the total number down to 1,000 from 1,500 and reduces the number of targeted precincts from 43 to 34. [NYP] The Post hit two midtown Starbucks yesterday and found that, while Tuesday night’s three-hour training session for baristas may not have instilled the ability to make perfect drinks, they will remake it as many times as you force them to. [NYP] A City Council member introduced legislation yesterday that would require meat from cloned animals to be labeled as such. [Metro NY]
Frank Bruni finds Bar Blanc fussy, mannered, overly fastidious — and very, very good. The two stars should take the sting out of his review for the place's owners. [NYT] Related: Raising the Bar Restaurant Girl hits Williamsburg’s Zenkichi and, between the room, the food, and the sake selection, seems to have a real find on her hands. [NYDN] Randall Lane joins in the general enthusiasm for Dovetail , but now he seems unwilling to go back to his five-star-granting ways and so ends up giving them only four — the equivalent, in traditional star terms, to a two-star review, which is not what this reads as. [TONY]
The New Yorker’s “Tables for Two” reviews have generally been mordant little affairs, short on criticism and long on wry descriptions of restaurant culture. Not this week. Nick Paumgarten comes down hard on Fiamma, describing “FEMA-like” service, cold food, a martini made without vermouth, and, in general, the very picture of a major ripoff operation, subsisting on “a strong euro and the proximity of the Soho Grand hotel.” It’s a wild departure from the usual “Tables for Two” mold, and though it may or may not be reflective of Fiamma (practically all of the reviews have been very positive, including Adam Platt’s two-star job), it’s certainly a lot more fun to read. Something tells us Paumgarten had a lot of fun writing it. Tables for Two: Fiamma [NYer]
In addition to slowing its expansion (finally), Starbucks will halt “sales of hot breakfast sandwiches because their smell interferes with the aroma of coffee.” [WSJ] If Padma Lakshmi could eat anywhere right now, she’d head to a little taco stand in Mexico for some fish tacos on the beach. [Diner’s Journal/NYT] Chelsea hot spot Stereo, which was closed by police earlier this month, will not be reopening at its current location because the landlord bought out the lease. [NYP]
The wildly uneven Barbuto earns a single star from Frank Bruni, almost entirely on the strength of a well-roasted Bell & Evans chicken. To quote Winston Churchill, “Some chicken!” [NYT] Alan Richman was appalled by how small the portions were at Grayz, how much they cost, and how shady most of them were, except for the magnificent, world-beating short rib: “In complexity and satisfaction, this dish reminded me most of the Gray Kunz of Lespinasse, the chef we miss so much.” [Bloomberg] Randall Lane gets that Fiamma’s Fabio Trachocchi is cooking in a grand, Continental style and doesn’t hold that against him, but the food is too rich and the service too sloppy to give him the five or six stars the place would have liked And so they have to settle for four. [TONY]
Hizzoner showed up to a political summit in Oklahoma with Junior’s cheesecake for all. [NYS] Jennifer LeRoy sees another 30 years of LeRoy ownership at Tavern on the Green, but she isn’t striking a deal with Donald Trump to keep the place. [Insatiable Critic] When world adventurer Anthony Bourdain found out that Food Network would be re-airing episodes of his series A Cook’s Tour, he was sitting by a pool in Hawaii. His reaction? “This was like being unexpectedly groped and publicly slipped the tongue by the ugliest girl at the prom.” [Anthony Bourdain’s Blog/Travel Channel]
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]
Earlier this week we linked to a Daily News item claiming Padma Lakshmi rudely refused complimentary dishes from Fiamma’s chef. A commenter wrote, “I was at Fiamma the night Padma was dining there and it absolutely did NOT go down that way. When the dishes arrived at the table, she thanked them profusely and apologized for being too full to eat any of them!” Whatever happened, Padma was just one of many celebs to chow down (or at least show up) at local restaurants this week, and here’s our gossip-column compendium of just who went where.
Apparently the opening-night party at Le Royale was a success, drawing the likes of Kate Moss, who made out with the D.J. [Imbible/Citysearch] Related: Le Royale Might Just Bring Nightlife Out of the Doldrums Frank Bruni applauds restaurants seeking out new forms of hospitality, but is wary of the WiFi availability: “Will the glow of laptop screens and the percussion of typing become pervasive visual and aural backdrops for our meals?” [Diner’s Journal/NYT] A former Scores cocktail waitress is suing the owners for being told to act more like a stripper. [NYP]
Fiamma hits the three-star jackpot, tickling Frank Bruni in his sweet spot and earning itself the critical credibility Steve Hanson wanted when he hired Fabio Trabocchi. Bruni admits the place isn't Italian, but he is in love with the ultrarich, ultracomposed food. [NYT] Market Table took over the space that was Shopsin's, and this gave the Randall Lane the good idea of reviewing both restaurants at the same time. Market Table earns four stars (out of six, mind you) for its solid food and gracious service. Kenny, in his new digs at Essex Street Market, gets three for his still terrific food and his not-so-gracious service. [TONY] The Fiamma review should wash away any melancholy caused by Alan Richman's lukewarm number on Primehouse, Fiamma's sister. Richman likes the steaks pretty well and singles out crab cake for enthusiastic praise, but he casts a skeptical eye on pretty much everything else, from its resident bull-god to the Himalayan salt aging room. [Bloomberg]
A true innovator has started a mock Gordon Ramsay blog with such posts as “What? Emeril’s boobs aren’t nice enough?” But when will someone step in to fill in the gaps at Chodoblog? [News Groper via Serious Eats] Related: Food Network, Emeril No Longer Feeling the Love No holiday parties at Chumley’s this year; according to the owner Steve Shlopak, the space has no ceiling and no floor. [NYO] Even after a top-chef shuffle and “showdown between Fiamma, L’Impero and Alto … all three places have come through recent turmoil, and the good news is that they’re better than they were before,” says Steve Cuozzo. [NYP]
Greenwich Village: Send off truffle fever with a wine-sodden bang at Babbo’s December 3 Vintage series, which includes a white-truffle tasting menu with wine pairings discussed by Peter Jamros. [Grub Street] Hell’s Kitchen: Kyotofu is hosting a seven-course dinner-and-dessert sake pairing tonight at 7 p.m. [Grub Street] Midtown West: The Frederick’s space on West 58th Street will be transformed into Jour et Nuit, a French-American bistro offering, you guessed it, brasserie classics like croque monsieurs and moules frites. [Restaurant Girl] Soho: Fiamma is a little too liberal with its "Napkins of Shame," which according to Bruni are a "bit of patchwork that makes the table look clean again" to the embarrassment of the messy diner. The critic was subjected to one himself while on a date. [Diner’s Journal/NYT] The Vosges bacon-chocolate bar is accused of not reaching its potential and tasting "more like the barnyard than the pig and more like the rubber tree than the cocoa pod." [Chop Talk/Epicurious] West Village: Jody Williams is previewing her new enoteca and salumeria Gottino at Greenwich Avenue near Perry Street. [Eater] The chef’s main stage, Morandi, is also serving a Thanksgiving dinner of rosemary roasted turkey with fennel and bruschetta stuffing. Those looking for turkey alternatives can arrive early for regular breakfast. [Grub Street]
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