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.
Socialista, now rid of that pesky hepatitis-A problem, is once again hosting celebs like Sting and Josh Hartnett. [NYP]
Conflict-of-interest alert! The soon-to-be-new president of the Obesity Society had to step down after drawing criticism for his paid consultant work for the restaurant industry, for whom he produced a puzzling affidavit asserting that posting calorie info on menus could have a negative effect on obesity. [NYT]
Good news: The 2nd Avenue Deli still delivers anywhere in town. [Bottomless Dish/Citysearch]
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.
Though it may be New York's 40th anniversary, 1968 was a rough year: the assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert Kennedy, the Tet Offensive, riots in Newark and Detroit. But one area no one could complain about was food in New York, as this week’s anniversary issue attests. Gael Greene, who was then as now a potent force in the city’s restaurant culture, conjures up one of the era’s most vivid restaurant scenes at Orsini's, complete with a cast ranging from Yul Brynner to Porfirio Rubirosa, the era’s greatest playboy. Rob and Robin, scoping out the city’s treats circa 1968, find everything from Japanese raw-fish sandwiches called “sushi” to quenelles at La Côte Basque. And, in a fitting tribute to an era when “fine dining” meant French food, a recipe for “ze Soufflé” at La Grenouille.
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.
Yesterday Bret Thorn seemingly debunked Gael Greene’s assertion that Michael Huynh left Bun because he wasn’t getting along with his partners and was opening a noodle shop near his other joint Mai House. Thorn had it from the restaurant that Huynh was merely on vacation. Bun’s publicist, Sam Firer, e-mailed something to that effect: “Michael just came back from Vietnam last night and he's a wee bit surprised to find out he's left two of his restaurants. He hasn't. Just a malicious rumor.” However now the Insatiable Critic, who started all of this in the first place, hears from Huynh that although he considered leaving the restaurant, he decided he didn't want to lose his investment.
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.
Box owner Simon Hammerstein is happy one of his performers spilled a drink on Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher this week. [NYP]
2008 probably won’t be the year that sees the establishment of a large, indoor public market along the lines of London’s Borough Market or San Francisco’s farmer’s market. [NYT]
Related: Batali Shows a Little Leg to Sex Up New Amsterdam Public
Gael Greene puts forth her list of culinary predictions for the New Year, including this gem: “Jeffrey Chodorow and Frank Bruni will have a food fight in Madison Square Park televised by the Food Network. If Bruni loses he will be required to review restaurants in Des Moines for six months. If Chodorow is the loser he will be forbidden to open a new restaurant for three weeks.” [Insatiable Critic]
Do you have a valuable brand name? A blue-chip reputation sanctified by the food media? Do you need ready capital — for expansion, debt reduction, or even retirement in your golden years? Just sell out to the nearest major conglomerate looking to add a bit of class! On her Website’s new gossip page, New York’s Insatiable Critic, Gael Greene, reveals the details of the latest rumored arranged marriage: this one between Nobu and Colony Capital, “the force behind Xanadu, the 2.2.-million-square-foot sports, leisure, shopping and family entertainment complex sprouting in the Meadowlands.” Is Nobu Matsuhisa playing Kubla Kahn?
Insatiable Critic: Short Order
This week, in what has become an annual tradition, the magazine identifies more reasons to love New York. The city’s edibles are justification enough, and this year Rob Patronite and Robin Raisfeld present two: our enthusiasm for frying and the Dessert Truck. The Robs continue to indulge by listing some of the city’s richest dishes, like WD-50’s eggs Benedict or foie gras meat loaf from Café Gray, as well as suggesting some places for New Year’s Eve dinner. Gael Greene does not speak of Crave on 42nd with such reckless abandon, but there’s nascent hope for this week’s openings: a wine bar, a vegetarian burger joint, and an eclectic East Village bistro. Finally, Rob and Robin give us one last at-home indulgence: baked Vacherin Mont d’Or. And after twelve months of tsuris, we’ve all got it coming.
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.
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.
If there’s one thing you can count on Gael Greene to deliver, it’s tales of seduction by food — and her latest post has it in spades. This time, it’s from the male point of view, as Gael offers a “service feature on seduction,” courtesy of her friend Francesco, “the teflon Romeo, in and out of love constantly, an outright chauvinist pig, in fact, but as a pal, really fun, full of zest and unfailingly loyal.” Francesco’s advice includes the following helpful tips: