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Employees Only Is Always Crowded, Sometimes With a Brass Band

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At West Village cocktail joint Employees Only, the place is jammed from eight till midnight or so nearly every night, on weekends the line to get in runs down the block, and the upstairs neighbors sometimes throw fruit on revelers in the back garden, according to manager and maître d' Dagny Mendelsohn. But it's also just about impossible to get a bad drink from one of the expert bartenders, she says, and there's a decent chance you might snag yourself a barback. Find out the other secrets of Employees Only at Grub Street, where Mendelsohn is this week's Ask a Waiter. Dagny Mendelsohn of Employees Only Defends Her Customers From Flying Fruit [Grub Street]

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Born to Be Wild Salmon

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Over-the-top restaurateur Jeffrey Chodorow — the man behind the near-universally reviled Kobe Club, which has caused him to revile, in turn, critics like our Adam Platt and the Times' Frank Bruni — opens his latest offering, Wild Salmon, today. Grub Street got a look inside the place yesterday, and a look at the menu, and based on that — and not, mind you, on actually eating anything there — pronounces it "the best hand he’s dealt himself in a while." Why? Find out at Grub Street. Wild Salmon Swims Into View. Yes, 'Pun Intended' [Grub Street]

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Sam Mason Waits for His Wood

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It's time for another Grub Street check-in with Sam Mason, the former wd-50 pastry chef who's working (and working and working) to open his own Soho spot, Tailor. Today we learn of yet another hiccup. Who knew you have to wait three days before laying hardwood floors? But there's an upside to that delay: It gave Sam time to go shopping for sexy Japanese knives. Everything you ever wanted to know about humidity, grout, and Japanese carbon steel awaits in The Launch at Grub Street. Sam Mason on the Sexiness of Japanese Steel [Grub Street]

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Mom Always Said Not to Play Ball in the Fancy French Restaurant

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You think it's easy being a waiter at a high-end French restaurant? Hardly. Chanterelle server Ian Tomaschik has to serve and clear a six-course tasting menu while also replenishing bread and silverware and making drinks and coffees. "In the beginning," he told Grub Street, "I didn't think I could pull it off." But he has, for six years, and it's worth it: "Once I saw the name Barry Williams on the reservation list. I was like, I can’t believe I’m waiting on Greg Brady." Tomaschik is this week's Ask a Waiter. Ian Tomaschik of Chanterelle Will Serve You Fake Wine If Your Secretary Asks [Grub Street]

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Welcome, Whole Foods Backlash!

With a brand new Whole Foods on Bowery (and, seemingly, everywhere else), will neighborhood organic markets wither? Indie rocker Jason Trachtenberg, who leads the Trachtenberg Family Slideshow Players when he's not stocking shelves at the all-volunteer 4th Street Co-op, fears losing customers to the giant supermarket. "They’ve completely oversaturated the organic market, and they’re not even all organic," says Trachtenberg . What did Whole Foods say in its defense? Find out about the benefits of foot traffic over on Grub Street. Bowery Whole Foods: An Effing Steamroller? [Grub Street]

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You Deserve a Big, Fishy Break Today

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Something's particularly fishy around town right now, and it's not just all those Catholics abandoning meat. Or, actually, it ever so slightly is: Loosely timed to coincide with the Lenten season, McDonald's has debuted the Double Filet-o-Fish — and the Underground Gourmet is giddy. There's more to the sandwich than just a double dose of deep-fried mystery fish. What's the special twist? The UG tells all at Grub Street, where it's the Sandwich of the Week. Filet-o-Fish Sandwich Now Twice As Delicious [Grub Street]

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Morgan Spurlock Is Getting Fat

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Self-styled muckraker Morgan Spurlock — whose facial hair, if you can believe it, is now even more irritating than when he first ate his way to prominence in Super Size Me — claims he's getting fat. And that's hardly a surprise when you consider what he's been eating: chicken parm, doughnuts, dinner at Per Se. He even had a burger! (Though it wasn't McDonald's.) Find out how else he's super-sizing himself in this week's New York Diet. Morgan Spurlock Splurges at Per Se, Loves Peanut-Butter Doughnuts [Grub Street]

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Sam Mason's Floor Won't Weather Itself

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Former wd-50 pastry chef Sam Mason may have run into some speed bumps on the road to opening his Tailor, on Broome Street, but he's still chugging along, and he's still chronicling said chugging for Grub Street. In the latest installment, Mason sees his restaurant taking shape — literally: They're framing the kitchen and laying floors — and wonders how he'll make those floors look as weathered as he wants them to be. Stiletto-heeled dancing, anyone? Sam Mason Needs Fifteen Women in Stilettos to Complete Construction [Grub Street]

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Duck!

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We haven't yet been to Morandi, Keith McNally's new Italian spot in the West Village, but as lunchtime approaches — and as we learn about chef Jody Williams's duck sandwich — we must say we're tempted to head over. It's Muscovy duck breast on Balthazar Bakery bread, plus lots of other things. We'll let Williams explain, in this week's Annotated Dish at Grub Street. Morandi's Deceptively Simple Duck Sandwich [Grub Street]

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We All Scream for Lobster!

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If it were us, we might not have named the thing a Lobster-Roll Ice-Cream Sandwich, because it sounds, well, gross. But look at the picture and consider the ingredients: a buttered-and-griddled top-cut hot-dog bun, filled with chocolate sauce, vanilla ice cream, and more chocolate sauce. And then remember that had Ed McFarland, of Ed's Lobster Bar, called it something else, it might not be this week's Sandwich of the Week. And then where would we be? That's Right: A Lobster-Roll-Inspired Ice-Cream Sandwich [Grub Street]

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Daniel Boulud Chefs Where He Eats

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So what does a chef actually eat? Grub Street dared to ask the question of Chef Daniel Boulud. Turns out he eats regularly at his own restaurant Daniel. But he also spares twenty minutes for sushi at Sushi Yasuda, samples new spice mixes, and previews his upcoming spring menu. Sunday means brunch at Balthazar and the occasional Citymeals-on-Wheels gala, where Boulud can sample hors d’oeuvre from the city's finest chefs. So work, eat, and raise $1.1 million. Not a bad gig. To find out who makes Chef's favorite tart flambé, check out Grub Street. Chef Daniel Boulud Eats Sushi at $10 Per Minute [Grub Street]

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Eating London: Please, Platt, We Want Some More

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From Scotland to England: New York's inimitable and indomitable Adam Platt spent five days eating his way through London for this week's magazine. He learned that now, finally, there's plenty worth eating alongside the Thames but that there's more density and variety — and less cost — next to the Hudson. But he also learned a whole lot more, which couldn't all fit into his allotted magazine space. Head, then, to Grub Street, where he provides the Gobbler's Ten Rules for Eating Well in London. (Hint: You'd better like lamb.) How to Eat in London [Grub Street]

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Everybody's Friends at Nolita Thai Joint Lovely Day

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Eve Dunlop has been a waitress at Nolita's neighborhood Thai joint, Lovely Day, for two years, and she tries to give the place a "hangout" kind of vibe. "We're trying to make a friendly environment," she says. "Anyone's welcome to join in our conversation." So might the locals who come by to hang out and converse — some of whom have been known to get naked ("we're all friends here," Dunlop says) — be the sort you'd call hipsters? Not at all, she says. "They're neighborhood people, young working professionals who are into music and art." Of course. Totally different. Eve's got much more to say at Grub Street; she's this week's Ask a Waiter. Eve Dunlop of Lovely Day Insists Her Customers Aren't Hipsters [Grub Street]

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Back to the Shack: Danny Meyer Speaks

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It's not spring till tomorrow, but even in this last remaining dark day of winter, there's a glimmer of happy, summery news: The Shake Shack has reopened. It happened yesterday afternoon, Grub guru Josh Ozersky reports, and he spoke to Danny Meyer, the Shake Shack's owner and arguably New York's favorite restaurateur, about what new is in store at the Madison Square burgery. The part we find most exciting: Magic wands! Huh? Find out at Grub Street. Danny Meyer on Shake Shack 2.0 [Grub Street]

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Manhattan's Bargain Is Brooklyn's Splurge

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Moroccan in Bay Ridge? Turkish in Gravesend? Sign us up. Grub Street has prepared a quick, opinionated guide to the more offbeat pleasures of Brooklyn Restaurant Week. At some places, the three-courses-for-$21.12 model actually sounds like a markup (how much chicken do you need to put away at Los Pollitos II to even hit that total?), but hell, that's part of the charm. Take the Cab to Deepest Brooklyn for Restaurant Week [Grub Street]

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If You Have 1.7 Million Friends, Do You Really Need to Eat?

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Tila "Tequila" Nguyen is the queen of MySpace (or the "Madonna of MySpace," if you read Time), with about 1.7 million virtual friends. She flies back and forth from Los Angeles to New York for photo shoots (here) and celebrity appearances (there). And when she's in town, Tila likes to sample the room service at the W Hotel and the vegan faux-meat goodness at Red Bamboo. Sound pricey? Don't fret. Tila's allergic to alcohol. "I'm still a cheap date," she assures Grub Street. ‘MySpace Queen’ Tila Tequila Drinks Sprite with her Fugu, Likes her Omelets with Ketchup [Grub Street]

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The Gobbler's Guide to Eating Like a Frenchman

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Where, o where, in this city of hiply casual dress codes and hautely fusioned cuisine options and Danny Meyerly chatty service can one find a good, old-fashioned, exorbitantly expensive, extravagantly presented, high French meal? That's what the Gobbler's globe-trotting friend Maurice wanted to know. And the Gobbler, as is his wont, came up with the answers. His list of New York's top 10 outposts of continental opulence is at Grub Street. Where to Send Your French Friend Maurice for Continental Opulence [Grub Street]

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There's a Sucker Born Every Minute, and Some of Them Must Like Pizza

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A further sign — as if more were needed — that New York is today a bastion of late-Roman decadence: One city slice shop now serves a $1,000 pizza. The pricey pie comes laden not with gold but with caviar, and Grub Street had the chance to taste it yesterday. So what does caviar'd pizza taste like? Bagels and lox, apparently. In which case we humbly remind you that the Zabar's premade bagel-and-nova sandwich costs something like four bucks. We're just saying. We Try a $1,000 Pizza, Maintain That We Aren't Publicity Tools [Grub Street]

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The Oyster Bar's Got Soft-Shells — in March!

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And they keep making it sound like rising global temperatures are a bad thing. Feh! How else would we be lucky enough to have soft-shell crabs in March? Yup, that's right, rising ocean temperatures have tricked the clueless crustaceans into shedding their skins early, making the summertime treat available before you've even filed your taxes. Where can you find 'em? Only at Grand Central's Oyster Bar, which claims to have cornered the market on the currently available supply of the critters. What else does global warming mean for the fate of crabkind? Find out on Grub Street. Don't Tell Al Gore: Soft-Shell Crabs Already Here [Grub Street]

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