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Hill Country

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Hill Country's Pit-Smoked Easter; Commerce Bartender No Fool

East Village: The dishes in Rhong-Tiam’s spice challenge (the prize for finishing the tasting menu is free dinner at a different Thai restaurant) aren’t as unbearably spicy as you’d expect, and the chef will give you a beer when you’re finished. [Gothamist] Flatiron: Hill Country's serving up a pit-smoked Easter dinner this Sunday. [Strong Buzz] Fort Greene: A boatload of restaurants in the neighborhood are offering prix fixe dinners for $23 next week for Dine in Brooklyn, including Chez Oskar, Olea, and Scopello. [Clinton Hill Blog] Harlem: A reader feels that Slice NY severely underrates Patsy's. [Slice NY] West Village: Commerce's bartender deals adeptly with douche bags. [Bottomless Dish/Citysearch]

Publicity Gambit at Carlyle Inspires Our Oscar-Themed Beverage Menu

In a shameless (but successful, and we have to admit, brilliant) bid for free publicity, James Sakatos, executive chef at the Carlyle hotel, has come up with a menu of dishes inspired by this year’s Oscar nominees. There’s a tart for Juno (a cheap shot), “black ink risotto with blood orange foam for There Will Be Blood,” the ink standing in for oil, and the blood-orange foam for, well, blood; Dover sole for Michael Clayton because “George Clooney's morally conflicted lawyer found his ‘sole’ and ultimately did the right thing,” and so on.

Don’t Be an Ass, You’ll Be Made to Wait; Park Slope Gets Its Beer Table Saturday

Clinton Hill: John's Donut Shop & Restaurant looks like an unassuming diner, but a recent visit revealed an actual wait. Do people know something we don't know? [Clinton Hill Blog] Dumbo: Water Street Restaurant is promoting $3 Draft Beers and a 2-for-1 Cheeseburger Special on Sunday. [Dumbo NYC] Flatiron: If you get to Hill Country at 8 p.m. on a Saturday and come 9 p.m. you’re still waiting for a table, you’ve now struck "Shot o’clock," according to GM John Shaw, "gratis shots for all at the bar." [Eater] Little Italy: This is proof that the city’s nightlife is still hot: "Degenerates of nyc in full swing at gold bar. 19 yr old Brazilians having makeshift photo shoots as the party floods into the D.J. booth to play with the new mac computers." Only Bangkok could be hotter than that! [Down by the Hipster] Park Slope: Beer Table, whose SLA woes were chronicled by the Times this week, will open Saturday. [Eat for Victory/VV] Tribeca: A bit of diner rudeness has been spotted around town lately — stool-swiping, line-cutting, table-hogging — but there’s a bit of consolation (and warning to offenders): Nobu co-owner Richie Notar revealed "they get secretly punished with extra-long waits." [Mouthing Off/Food & Wine]

Robbie Richter and Hill Country Part Ways

It’s a sad day for New York barbecue: Hill Country and pitmaster Robbie Richter have parted ways, a mutual decision both sides say was amicable. Richter, whose salt-and-pepper-powered Texas-style barbecue has been a huge critical success, says “there are new barbecue horizons, new directions, a world of flavors and techniques that I need to start exploring.” What might those be? Richter won't say -- yet. Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Hill Country owner Marc Glosserman calls Richter “a passionate cook and a great champion of barbecue.” Pitmaster duties will be taken over by Pete Daversa, a Blue Smoke veteran who's been running basic barbecue operations under Richter since Hill Country opened. Related: The Mystery of the Pitmasters Stymies the ‘Times’

This Year’s ‘Saveur’ 100 Is Thin on the NYC Love

We know another year has gone by in the food world because the Saveur 100 is out. The list “offers a vivid snapshot of the wide … world of food,” says the magazine, so the picks skewed global — licorice from New Zealand, anyone? — but we are, as always, only interested in the New York stuff.

Jonathan Lethem Fuels His Writing With ‘White Trash’ Sandwiches

Boerum Hill resident and author of Motherless Brooklyn and The Fortress of Solitude Jonathan Lethem is at work on a still untitled novel that’s set on the Upper East Side and features a character that’s always seen eating either an H&H bagel or a burger deluxe from Jackson Hole. The author also happens to be a bagel lover and tends to wolf them down with egg and cheese during writing breaks, something he describes as an “abject New York style of white-trash eating.” Of course, he’d never indulge in that for breakfast. “My tendency,” he says, “is to go from purity to decadence, like I’m reliving the fall of a great empire.” Here he recounts the rise and fall of his diet this week.

Pig Farmer to Deliver Pigs in Pig-Fueled Truck

Bev Eggleston, the Virginia pig farmer trying to revive Ossabaw pigs, has refitted his truck to run on barbecue grease! He's struck up a symbiotic friendship with Hill Country’s Robbie Richter (Richter gets to try great pork, Bev gets to eat great barbecue), and the two have come to an understanding by which Richter will save his grease for Eggleston’s special diesel engine. The idea’s not as crazy as it sounds: San Francisco asks restaurants to recycle grease for the city's bus fleet.

Live Poultry Not Live for Long in Woodside; Champagne at Paradou

Dumbo: The Japanese publication Mapple released a guide to the nabe and recommends Jacques Torres Chocolate, Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory, and Grimaldi’s as top picks. [Dumbo NYC] East Village: You don’t need to hunt down any Danish to track Frank Bruni; he’s a huge fan of Death & Co (and hopes the bar’s not really in trouble). [Diner’s Journal/NYT] Meatpacking District: A $25 Champagne tasting at Paradou next Tuesday also comes with snacks. [Paradou NYC] Midtown: A rare bottle of scotch fetched $54,000 at Christie's liquor auction last night. The Rob Roys we made with it were great. [Food and Wine] Woodside: For a truly hands-on holiday meal, you can head to Bismillah Live Poultry market in the warehouse quarter; choose your "turkey out of a flock of around 30, and off it went in a shopping cart to be slaughtered, scalded in hot water, and plucked by the staff. Fifteen minutes later it emerged in a bag, warm to the touch, its fat tail sticking out." [The Grinder/Chow]

The Mystery of the Pitmasters Stymies the ‘Times’

The Times, touching on a story Grub Street broke when Moses was in short pants, had a big feature on the dearth of experienced pitmasters Sunday, pegged on GS pal Big Lou Elrose of Wildwood. The piece marvels at the quick ascent of Big Lou from working an Ozone Park lunch wagon to his current post, but in fact, Elrose’s bones were made as Adam Perry Lang’s right hand man in competition; the lunch wagon was just a lark. Still, the city’s top pitmasters are as baffling to food writers as they are to the general public. Their job is hard to understand, because nothing they do happens while customers are present to observe. The pitmaster's art is exercised in the dead night, in secrecy and silence, and outside observers rarely get any glimpse of what it involves. There is one factor that never changes, though, and will always separate real pitmasters from merely titular ones.

Molecular Gastronomist Wows Them in Rare New York Appearance

Hervé This, the famous French scientist who coined the term “molecular gastronomy,” yesterday made a rare New York appearance, lecturing first at the Institute of Culinary Education, then at NYU before the Experimental Cuisine Collective, and finally before the Culinary Historians of America at the soon-to-open Astor Center downtown. We were fascinated by This’s PowerPoint presentation, which featured food images, mathematical formulas, Venn diagrams, and images of classical artwork, all accompanied by gnomic, rambling commentary on the nature of things edible. (There seemed to be a lot of stuff about emulsification in there as well.) The truth is that we could make neither head nor tail of the talk, which apparently was totally different at each of the three appearances.

Mr. Cutlets's Crash Course: Turkey

With Thanksgiving fast approaching, not a few readers have written in to ask for advice about turkeys. Though we would never consider abandoning the big bird, we've had it grilled, boiled, deep-fried, stuffed with a duck, and just about any other way you can name — usually with little improvement to show for it. But smoking seems to be the one technique that brings turkey to the next level, and so we turned to our old pal Robbie Richter, pitmaster at Hill Country BBQ. We grabbed a turkey, a big syringe, a few other supplies, and headed out to Rego Park to Robbie's mother's house to do the backyard turkey thing par excellence. The results are here to see; the list of ingredients is available after the jump.

Colicchio, Samuelsson, Hall, Others Shine at Taste of New York

Though the event did not run late, the food at last night’s Taste of New York was beyond reproach: Suba’s Seamus Mullen produced some ridiculously rich and crispy oxtail croquettes, and the Ciao Bella guys served a Turkish yogurt gelato that stopped visitors in their tracks. Hill Country’s beef riblets were one of the hits of the show, requested by other chefs even as they labored behind their own tables. Meanwhile, Jim Meehan of PDT was setting out the apple cocktails that seemed to be in everybody’s hands.

‘Esquire’ to New York: Drop Dead

Dennis Foy
Are you kidding us? Only a trio of New York spots made Esquire’s “best new restaurants” list. And while the places described all sound good, if the likes of Rialto in Cambridge have all but three New York restaurants beat, then Pace is the new Harvard. The fact is this list represents a kind of trans-Hudson affirmative action for the restaurant world. Food columnist John Mariani picks good restaurants located outside New York in place of the more deserving restaurants inside the city limits, such as Insieme, Sfoglia, Ssäm Bar, Suba, Hill Country, and many others. It’s not their fault that New York has more good places than the rest of the country put together!

Sushi Comes to Prospect-Lefferts at Last

Flatiron: Hill Country has unveiled a special cocktail list that makes use of artisanal Texas vodka Tito’s (also found in house cocktails at Morandi). [Down by the Hipster] Long Island City: Even though its cheese soup is awfully cheesy, Bricktown Bagel Cafe is a welcome addition to the area for its comfy chairs and the mere fact that it’s not a liquor store. [LIC-NYC] Prospect-Lefferts-Gardens: Sushi Tatsu is opening a second location on Flatbush in the space that was China City. [Across the Park] Soho: Real-estate mogul Andrew Borrok plans to open a four-star restaurant next year with no concern for profits. [Eater] Upper East Side: If you’re an adult, it’s best to avoid Bemelmans Bar on weekend afternoons when the iconic hotel lounge hosts a "Madeline tea party" for grade schoolers. [NYDN]

Pigskin Parties Kick Off at Hill Country; Rickshaw Delayed Yet Again

Chelsea: Hill Country has added big TV screens and plans on being party central for football games. [Grub Street] Gramercy: Rodeo Bar is now the second place in New York to carry Shiner Bock. [Grub Street] Greenwich Village: The ballyhooed opening of Rickshaw Dumpling Bar is delayed yet again. [Eater] Long Island: The first mug shot is made public in the Josie Malave gay-bashing case. [TMZ] Long Island City: Feminist beer and good salsa are to be found in a new spot in industrial LIC. [Joey in Astoria] Midtown: Toloache is still your only spot in the neighborhood for grasshopper tacos. [Gothamist] Williamsburg: Been feeling that what the area needed was a vegetarian Caribbean restaurant? Well, you’re in luck. [Bottomless Dish]

Women Chefs Congregate in Chelsea; Sam Mason Has Fans on the LES

Chelsea: 25 women chefs including Anita Lo and Del Posto pastry chef Nicole Kaplan will cook at a cancer benefit at Pier 60 on Monday. [Restaurant Girl] Related: Women Chefs Come Out in Force For Benefit Flatiron: Hill Country hosts 4-Foodies on September 18 for the online group’s second tasting event. [4-Foodies] Harlem: Mexican street vendors will prepare the fare at Restaurante La Hacienda on September 19 for a Tamale and Tequila Tasting organized by the non-profit group Esperanza del Barrio. [Uptown Flavor] Lower East Side: Tailor gets high marks from opening-night diners who may not have understood the menu, but appreciated the results. [Eat for Victory/VV] Midtown West: A food cart on 46th Street at Sixth Avenue is serving up special Ramadan “break-the-fast” boxes. [Midtown Lunch] Tribeca: Cognac week at Brandy Library means free tastings every night from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. through Saturday.

Flappers Seen at Harlem's Live-Poultry Market

East Village: Between securing a liquor license and finishing construction on what will be Sakaya sake store, the owners are blogging. [Down by the Hipster] Flatiron: A BBQ tasting at Hill Country is the next stop for 4-Foodies; the event includes meeting the chefs and leaving with swag. [4-Foodies] Harlem: “A few seemed comatose, their heads lolling, but most were lively” at La Granja live-poultry market on Amsterdam Avenue at 126th Street. The roasted results are so much better than supermarket chickens. [NYS] Lower East Side: Months of Craigslist ads must have done some good, Tailor has scored Room 4 Dessert veteran Pam Yung as the fifth member of its kitchen team. [NYS] Meatpacking District: Paradou’s next dirty bingo night is September 18: kinky prizes furnished by Kiki De Montparnasse. Midtown East: Condolences to those who like a good frisking before lunch, the afternoon buffet in the U.N. Delegates Dining Room will be closed to the public from September 25 – October 5 while the General Assembly convenes. [NewYorkology]

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]