Jeffrey Chodorow has been pretty tight-lipped about his new steakhouse in the Empire Hotel (and given what happened with his last steakhouse, who can blame him?). But General Chod got to chewing the fat with us recently, and let us in on one of the basic concepts of the place. “It will be a classic New York steakhouse, but with one improvement: The whole menu will come in small and large portions,” he says. “Everybody doesn’t want to eat immense portions, especially in a neighborhood restaurant. I’ll have half a lobster, a twelve-ounce sirloin, and I can maintain the quality and at the same time bring the price point down.”
News that Borough Food and Drink was being taken over by Zak Pelaccio had some Chodorow watchers scratching their heads. How could China Grill Management be involved in a restaurant and not control it? General Chod tells us that, far from being a departure from his operating system, CGM’s boutique operation is just his latest innovation. “There’s 20th Century Fox for big projects, and then also Fox Searchlight Pictures. That’s what this would be like,” he says, crediting Pelaccio with the analogy. (How long did he mull that one?)
Here’s the thing about restaurateurs: They don’t really care about who has the best ramen in the East Village. They’re not really that interested in where Paul Liebrandt’s restaurant will be, and they find avant-garde desserts about as compelling as algebra. But when Steve Hanson opens a restaurant? That, that is something they’re interested in. The fine art of making money via replicable concept restaurants is one at which Hanson is an acknowledged master, and that helps to explain why the main room at Primehouse last Thursday looked like a who’s who of big-time restaurateurs.
The Observer has the dope on Jeffrey Chodorow’s latest restaurant in the Empire Hotel: It’s to be a “classic American steakhouse.” Not a surprising choice, given how hassle-free, popular, and profitable steakhouses are — when they’re not Kobe Club, anyway. Jay-C is in Italy for a week, but as soon as we can get ahold of him, we’ll have the details. Given the ambition of his latest ventures, we’d be surprised if this is just another meatery.
Chodorow to Open 'Classic Steakhouse' in Empire Hotel [NYO]
Cuozzo fantasizes about the possible successes Jeffrey Chodorow could develop if he signs a lease on the enormous space at Broadway and 63rd Street. They include stellar risotto, traditional dim sum, and haute Lebanese — if only he doesn’t “blow it on another howler like Rocco’s or a limping dud like Kobe Club.” [NYP]
A Queens dumpling celebrity, a chef in northern China before transplanting to the U.S., has been persuaded to supply her specialty to TKettle on St. Marks Place. Get there early, though; she’s only agreed to hand-make 1,000 per day for the bubble-tea shop. [Eat for Victory/VV]
Two young female patrons of the Box have been abducted from outside the club and raped on separate occasions in less than a month, and the predator has not been apprehended. [NYP]
Boerum Hill: The Brooklyn Inn owner hates bloggers and if you want to know what he’s doing with his legend of a bar you should go ask him yourself. [Lost City]
East Village: Una Pizza Napoletana czar Anthony Mangierei on finding the perfect pizza: “The place should smell slightly smoky (that’s from the oven) and like a really good bakery (that’s the dough cooking). But you don’t want to smell grease. I know a lot of people associate that aroma with a slice, but trust me, it’s not the sign of an amazing pizza." [Slice]
Flatiron: Patti Jackson, Anne Burrell, and Gramercy Tavern pastry chef Nancy Olsen will take part in a five-course dinner held at Prince George Ballroom on 27th Street at Fifth Avenue to support culinary education for women. [Restaurant Girl]
Midtown West: Chodorow insists that “not only is Kobe Club not closing, but we’re opening more of them, first in Miami.” [Eater]
Times Square: Mandler's Sausage Co. is closed. Union Square location remains open to satisfy all your sausage needs. [Midtown Lunch]
Earlier this month, Frank Bruni assailed Borough Food and Drink for its service, referring to it as “loopy, stop-and-go befuddlement.” How did that happen in a Jeffrey Chodorow restaurant? Turns out chef Paul Williams took ill and Bruni visited during his absence. Williams has taken a temporary leave from the restaurant, a publicist says, and the kitchen is now under the control of former Asia de Cuba chef Robert Trainor, an old Chodorow hand. No word yet on when Williams will return, but we hope it’s soon.
Related:Dining Briefs [NYT]
So it’s not anywhere near as dishy as Chodorow’s site, but it seems Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s two-week-old blog is at least sticking to its promise to update us every Tuesday on “what I’ve been cooking, where I’ve been traveling, and what I’ve been thinking.” (It's a Blogger site with a pretty standard template did Jean-Georges make this himself?) Even if he isn’t slamming Bruni and Platt, Vongo is at least confessing to cooking with a machine developed for Kentucky Fried Chicken (scandalous!) and getting his daughter’s birthday cake from a bakery instead of from his dessert man Johnny Iuzzini (c’est impossible!). Another shocker: “I love eating in New York. From the tacos and margaritas at Los Dados (where I often stop after a night of cooking at Spice Market).” Jean-Georges is still cooking at Spice Market?
Jean-Georges Vongerichten [Blog]
Nothing against the articles, but it’s the ads in the Times dining section that we’re obsessed with. First there was Jeffrey Chodorow’s “Dear Mr. Wells” rant, followed by Jeffrey Chodorow’s “Dear Frank” letter, and now this intriguing tidbit buried at the bottom of an ad for a Macy’s Cellar cooking event in the August 29 edition:
Thursday, September 27, Executive Chef Gary Robins from the legendary and romantic restaurant One if By Land, Two if By Sea, prepares a perfect meal for special occasions!
Jeffrey Chodorow and Ouest chef Tom Valenti may both open restaurants in the boutique hotel On the Ave at Broadway near 76th Street. [NYP]
Has Gordon Ramsay spread himself too thin? Harden’s annual guide has dethroned Ramsey’s eponymous flagship as its pick for highest overall rating in food, service and ambience. [The Guardian]
Lower East Side neighbors were duped by the Box they believed it was to be a “cultural institution.” Well, sort of depends on your definition of “culture.” [NYDN]
Orlando is a swell place to travel (preferably in a cherry-red Corvette) if you’re craving hash browns all-the-way at Waffle House, but what about Floridians who want a taste of the big city? Until recently, a restaurant called Babbo (unrelated) was one of their only options, but now it’s being renamed Nonna! (Too confusing?) Don’t worry this fall comes The Ravenous Pig: An American Gastropub, opened by a student at New York’s own Culinary Institute of America (or so the place’s MySpace page seems to indicate). Could this be the most egregious Spotted Pig knockoff since Chodorow’s ill-fated Spotted Dick? Either way, the Orlando Weekly hilariously assures: “If ‘gastropub’ sounds unappetizing, never fear. It just means upscale food served in a relaxed, pub-like setting.” And with that, Orlando’s culinary innocence is dead.
What’s Cooking [Orlando Weekly]
Profile: The Ravenous Pig [MySpace]
Related:The Pig and the Pudding [NYM]
• The nation's largest mortgage lender, Countrywide Financial, almost out of credit. Oh. No. [NYP]
• Recent hedge-fund woes look far from contained — they've even inspired a country song. [DealBook/NYT]
• Chuck Schumer's bright new plan for taxing private equity: raise taxes on all partnerships, not just big firms like Blackstone. How Democratic. [Reuters via DealBook/NYT]
Whole Foods’ master plan for local domination, code-named (no kidding) Project Goldmine, is accidentally released to the public by federal regulators. [NYT]
Jeffrey Chodorow’s war against Frank Bruni continues with another Times ad. [Eater]
Buddhists buy $7,000 worth of eels, frogs, and turtles from Chinatown markets and then release the fortunate animals into the Passaic River. Where they immediately died from toxic shock. (Okay, we made the last part up.) [NYP]
Now that the Mets seem to have a lock on New York’s most coveted hamburger business, we’re waiting for the other shoe to drop: What will be the Yankee response? Clearly, it won’t do for the Bronx Bombers to let their National League rival upstage them like this. We fully expect the Yankees to open the vault in hopes of attracting a major free-agent restaurateur. But who?
While we can’t wait for the Health Department’s regulatory rampage to end, let it at least be said that it treats the great and the obscure alike. Jeffrey Chodorow’s flagship restaurant, China Grill, was closed this afternoon by the DOH for the walk-in refrigerator being warmer than rules permit and a few other ticky-tacky offenses (according to a hastily issued press release). China Grill Management, Chodorow’s corporation, will no doubt pour out some money and have the place up and running in a couple of days, if not sooner. But Chodo, like everyone else who has felt the whip of the city’s clipboard-wielding inspectors, knows who’s boss now.
BREAKING: China Grill Shuttered by Dept. of Health [Eater]
For city gastronomes (we won’t say chowhounds), there are three reasons to be excited about Borough Food and Drink, the Jeffrey Chodorow and Zak Pelaccio gastropub opening this week. First, there’s Z-Man’s return to the kind of freewheeling, Eurocentric fare that he used to do at Williamsburg’s Chickenbone Café, back before he became an Asian-food guru. (Pelaccio created the menu and trained the staff but will not be cooking at the restaurant.)
Last week we continued our restro-spective of Jeffrey Chodorow's tinklers with a look at Ono. We half-expected Chodorow's blog to carp over our five-star review, but no — his latest entry shows that the man is still pissed off, this time at Adam Platt, whom he considers a piss-poor reviewer for handing a measly star to Wild Salmon. This got us to wondering about the restaurant's facilities.
Two weeks ago, it was Mario Batali who bared his considerable fangs and lashed out at the Gobbler in a most unseemly way. Now, this week, comes word of another anti-Gobbler screed penned by the aggrieved and suddenly blog-happy restaurateur Mr. Jeffrey Chodorow. Mr. Chodorow takes issue with the Gobbler’s not entirely unkind, one-star review of the restaurateur's giant fish-themed restaurant, Wild Salmon. To which the Gobbler can only say, “Thank you, Mr. Chodorow!” As we said last week in this space, a critic isn’t doing his job unless fat cats like Batali and Mr. Chodorow occasionally become unhinged. Restaurateurs know their own businesses intimately, after all, and we professional critics only peddle subjective opinion. If Chodorow chooses to take issue with our opinions, he’s more than entitled to it.
Steve Cuozzo uses his bully pulpit in the Post to come down hard on the Shake Shack, calling the place out for insanely long lines and “a hamburger that’s an also-ran at best.”
Related: Kyle Dureau Wants Shake Shack to Be Open 24/7 As Much As You Do [Grub Street]
Having weathered a major two-star review by Adam Platt, Insieme finally gets its first three-star one, from Moira Hodgson, who is impressed by how perfectly executed every dish is, lavishing special praise on one of the place’s more overlooked features, co-owner Paul Grieco’s wine list. [NYO]
Related: Italian, Old and New [NYM]
The Times gives Katz’s the full Frank Bruni treatment, and the place comes out of it with one star, much loving description, and an eerie semi-confirmation of our earlier report that the place might be sold. [NYT]
Related: Mother of Mercy! Is This the End of Katz’s? [Grub Street]