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Lower East Side

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Modernity Encroaches on Katz’s Once Again

katz's deli
Katz’s, like all sacred spaces, is an affront to the forces of progress; and it seems that the 21st century is intent on battering all its most glorious traditions with the gale-force winds of the Zeitgeist. First came the real-estate boom and, with it, the threat that some developer will buy the place and build a giant condo there. Then, earlier this winter, the Health Department sent its spiteful functionaries in to condemn the mother of all delis for selling salami the way they have for 120 years. In a ritual of degradation, the Health Department poured bleach on the precious beef sausages, to ensure they would never be consumed. (A similar atrocity occurred last year at Il Buco and is remembered in food circles as the Great Soppressata Massacre.)

Catty Males Shake Beatrice; Charcuterie Mania

Clinton Hill: There are a few places in the nabe to find gluten-free products, but one celiac sufferer would like to find out about any others. [Clinton Hill Blog] Lower East Side: Video of a Tailor bartender doing his thing. [Snack] Midtown East: Former Savoy chef Matt Weingarten's year-long plans to start dinner service at Café St. Bart’s will come to fruition on May 5. [Zagat] Upper West Side: Bar Boulud may claim the top charcuterie in town (though Mia Dona’s stepping up), but you can also find some tasty stand-ins at Café d’Alsace and elsewhere, including Fort Greene’s Stonehome Wine Bar. [Citysearch] West Village: Spencer Morgan of the New York Observer supposedly slapped Hud Morgan from Men’s Vogue at the Beatrice Inn on Wednesday night because the latter didn’t respond to the former’s apology e-mail. A true New York noble. [Gawker]

Ghost Towns and Old Bones

Flushing: Time to buy a new bathing suit! Or, um, ice skates? The plush, $66.3 million Flushing Meadows-Corona Park Natatorium and Ice Rink is opening today. [Curbed] Lower East Side: Loud messy construction from Jason Pomeranc’s hotel at 200 Allen Street and Morris Platt’s 26-story condo on Orchard Street has turned the surrounding blocks into "a ghost town." [NYO] Lower Manhattan: Signs that speak of the World Trade Center in the present tense will be removed. [NYT]

The Lower East Side's Latest Sustainable Restaurant; Plus, Rayuela's New Takeaway Outlet

Clinton Hill: Don’t be fooled by Met Foods window painting claiming the supermarket has the “[l]argest fresh organic products in the area.” You’ll be “hard-pressed to find any (just the usual half-rotten produce they usually carry). It’s clearly a reaction to the threat of all the discerning customers shopping at Green Planet.” [Clinton Hill Blog] Greenwich Village: The Starbucks on 8th Street between Fifth and University is closing and has posted in its window a bizarre, farewell letter of sorts, which begins, "This thing we have together, it’s bigger than this place." And in a weird way, the epistle is spot-on. [Gothamist] Harlem: Where can a gal just get a beer and a burger in this gentrifying area? [Uptown Flavor] Lower East Side: Rayuela is expanding with a Latin takeout spot set to open at the end of March in the former LoSide space. [Eater] Lee Gross’s organic eatery Broadway East opens March 7, and like this week’s ecofriendly thirst quenchers, "filters and carbonates its own water." [Strong Buzz] Freemans will totally let you order artichoke dip before you place your entrée order; they changed their policy two years ago after Bruni’s "Satisfactory" review. [Diner’s Journal/NYT]

New Novel Immortalizes Schiller’s Liquor Bar. Or Does It?

We’re currently reading Lush Life, novelist Richard Price’s tale of life and death on the LES. The plot centers on Eric Cash, the manager of Café Berkman, a thinly veiled take on Schiller’s Liquor Bar. At least, we think it’s Schiller’s:
On bright quiet mornings like this, when Berkmann’s was empty, delivered from the previous night’s overpacked boozy franticness, the place was an air palace, and there was nowhere better to be in this neighborhood than sitting in a lacquered wicker chair immersed in the serene luxury of a café au lait and the New York Times, sunlight splashing off the glazed ecru tiles, the racks of cryptically stencil-numbered wine bottles, the industrial-grade chicken-wired glass and partially desilvered mirrors, all found in various warehouses in New Jersey, by the owner, Harry Steele: restaurant dressed as theater dressed as nostalgia.
Does this sound like Schiller’s to you? Or is this a composite of other downtown nightspots? Your thoughts, please, in the comments.

Sharks on Coney Island! And Expensive Ones, at That

Bowery: No sooner had this lovable bum moved out of the street box he lived in and into a proper $300-a-month room than his troubles began. [NYT] Bushwick: Behold the new 'swhick-specific haiku trend: "Dude with the corn rows/Stop selling crack, you scumbag/Sell good pot instead." [BushwickBK] Coney Island: The fancy exterior redo for the New York Aquarium may have to be, uh, scaled back due to a planned $64 million exhibition on sharks. [Coney Island via Curbed]

‘Times’ Releases Ethnic Grocery List; Porter House Looking for a Stellar Wine Director

Astoria: McLoughlin’s on Broadway at 31st Street is featuring the German lager Spaten through February. [Joey in Astoria] Chelsea: Morimoto’s $24.07 prix fixe lunch deal is more filling and generous than you might expect. [Bottomless Dish/Citysearch] Clinton Hill: If you’re too “bored by the fresh produce, too cold/lazy to trek to Fairway” to cook for yourself in winter like this blogger, here are some of the nabe’s good takeout options, including Luz and Bombay Masala. [Clinton Hill Blog] Columbus Circle: Porter House New York is looking for a new wine director now that veteran in the biz Beth Von Benz has moved on to new projects. [Grub Street] Lower East Side: This list of ethnic groceries includes Pueblo Deli at 129-135 Ridge Street where you’ll find “brittle, tasteless cassabe (a yuca bread Dominicans find neither brittle nor tasteless)” but also “‘merengue’ flavored Country Club soda, Induveca salami, Bay Rum Constanza antiseptic, and candles dedicated to saints or those who may become them.” [NYT via Serious Eats] Times Square: Cafe Edison has replaced its peachy-pink paint job with a nice soft tan color, and it’s “swell.” [Lost City] Upper East Side: Bardolino at 78th Street and Second Avenue suffered interior and exterior damage caused by a fire last week, but they’ll reopen this weekend. [Upper East Side Informer]

Allen & Delancey Gives Area Roués the Late-Night Menu They Have Been Waiting For

There’s something about Allen & Delancey that seems … nocturnal. The room, even in the early hours, evokes jaded roués, furtive assignations, and the airless ennui of adultery. So the debut of a stylish late-night menu is apropos. Chef Neil Ferguson tells us that the community board extended the restaurant’s liquor license to 2 a.m. “Anything in that room is sexy,” Ferguson says. “This food, I think, is more for soaking up alcohol.” That may be, but the menu is more than a little exciting. There’s a braised lamb neck, rabbit croquettes, and even, in the dessert section, a milk sorbet served with hot cookies made to order. Late-night service begins at 11:20 p.m., Thursdays through Saturdays, starting tonight. Allen & Delancey late-night menu

Porto Rico to Open New Locations in Williamsburg, Essex Street Market

Porto Rico, one of the city’s best (and most affordable) coffee stores, is about to add two more locations. Owner Peter Longo tells us that one branch is coming to Williamsburg, at 636 Grand Street, not far from the company’s roasting facility — a good thing, too, as Williamsburg definitely needs more coffee for its growing number of idle intellectuals. The other Porto Rico will open at the Essex Street Market, but in a space smaller than Longo expected. (He wanted the adjacent spot too, but the city awarded it to the Lower East Side Girls Club, who will sell baked goods there.) “Cookies and coffee go really well together,” he says, resignedly. Both new locations will open on April 1; drop in for a tasting anytime.

Michael Cerveris Will Be Spending Valentine's Day With Vampires, His Dog

Michael Cerveris
Last night, at a benefit for Women's Expressive Theater, the cool old shul on the Lower East Side that's the Angel Orensanz cultural center hosted short plays about love or its complications by women playwrights like Brooke Berman and Jenny Lyn Bader. The plays starred folks like Gretchen Mol, Martha Plimpton, Josh Hamilton, and Michael Cerveris. After the shows, we asked Cerveris (star of Broadway masterpieces like Sweeney Todd, The Who's Tommy, and Titanic) what he's been up to lately. Apparently, he's been flying between here and New Orleans a lot to shoot the film Cirque du Freak, based on the popular young-adult Vampire Blood book trilogy ("It's like Harry Potter with vampires"). He's co-starring across from Willem Dafoe, Salma Hayek, and John C. Reilly. Since we don't know much about sucking blood, but we do know a little about sucking chest wounds, we asked him about Valentine's Day. Has he ever put himself out on a limb for love? "My whole life I've been making grand gestures," he said wearily. "And they meet with intermittent success, but often abject failure." Oh, no! "In the long-term, I'm still going home to my dog, Gibson." And his plans for Thursday, the 14th? "I'm flying back from New Orleans. Unless there's a particularly lonely stewardess, I'm probably looking at me and Gibson that night," he said. "She appreciates my presence in a consistent way. So maybe I'll get her a red...bone or something." —Tim Murphy

Fondue Contest Makes February Bearable

Fondue
If you miss the heart-attack snacks that come with football season, here’s another event for your calendar: the second annual Fondue Takedown at 5 p.m. on February 24 at the Slipper Room. Matt Timms (the man responsible for the Chili Takedown) provides Bunsen burners, serving trays, bread, and wooden skewers while you bring the cheese and whatever else might be part of your “recipe.” Last year, Timms’s roommate mixed three types of “dairy-style cheese product” and Pabst Blue Ribbon. “Fucking horrible,” Timms recalled. Another contestant experimented with mozzarella, Kalamata olives, and sun-dried tomatoes, but found it wouldn’t melt properly. Last year’s winner was a culinary student who triumphed with a simple Roquefort fondue. The audience votes: $10 buys you a ballot and unlimited tasting. The 2008 victor will leave with $50 and a plastic trophy commissioned especially for the event. So bring your recipe or your critical mouth. —Alex Van Buren

‘Queen of Delancey Street’ Killed in Accident

Dumbo: From the offices of "legendary" Brooklyn Paper editor (and self-encourager) Gersh Kuntzman comes news that he's auctioning off his ankle cast, signed by (self-encouraging) beep Marty Markowitz, with proceeds going to Markowitz's Camp Brooklyn. The bid's up to $41! [eBay] Jamaica: Sure, Jamaica Center may look a bit rough, but you can still haggle over prices here, and find great real-estate deals posted to trees! [Queens Crap] Lower East Side: RIP to Josephine LaPlaca, the 83-year-old "Queen of Delancey Street," who was struck dead by a car Wednesday night at the dangerous intersection of Delancey and Allen. [Gothamist]

Edible Jewelry for ‘Commitmentphobes’; Midtown East Welcomes Adour

East Village: TKettle owner Andy Pan is still waiting for his partner BBQ Chicken to open, but “it’s killing me softly,” he says. [Eat for Victory/VV] Little Italy: Send a mixed signal to your love this Valentine’s Day with a candy ring from Papabubble. [TONY] Lower East Side: Tomorrow night at Suba is a pata negra feast, which includes dishes made with “Ossabaw Island hogs, the ‘long lost cousin of the Pata Negra’” paired with Spanish wines. [Bottomless Dish/Citysearch] Midtown East: Initial reactions to Adour are already mostly positive, but no one else has noticed the specially reserved handbag seating, yet. [Eater] Rockefeller Center: On Friday from 3:30 to 6 p.m., Morrell is hosting a tasting of La Caravelle Grand Cru to celebrate the Champagne’s ten-year anniversary. [Snack]

It’s Raining Cristal! Oh, Wait

Bay Ridge: The congregation of a pretty 108-year-old stone church here wants it torn down to make room for condos and a smaller house of faith, but preservationists and bloggers are trying to stop them. [RightInBayRidge] East Village: There's a super-deluxe penthouse atop the Bowery Hotel for rent for $30,000 a month. And whoever wrote this e-mail pitch apparently thinks it's okay for would-be renters to "piss Cristal off the balcony." [Curbed] Forest Hills: If you want nice local businesses like Laytner's to survive over skeevy stores, you have to shop local, instead of paying slightly less at the big chains. And here's the receipt to prove it. [Forest Hills 72]

R.E.M. Goes on Lower East Side Wine Crawl, Performs for Lucky Few

Sure, U2 rode through Manhattan on a flatbed, but we find it way cooler that R.E.M. stopped into September Wines and two Lower East Side restaurants this Monday while filming a music video for their upcoming album. ’inoteca partner Ethan Richardson, who says Michael Stipe comes in now and then, tells us he fielded a call from a band rep asking for permission to film there. They ended up performing acoustic for a little less than five minutes and then ate for fifteen or twenty minutes before moving a couple of doors down.

10 Jay to Get Five More Stories

Astoria: If a park designated as a "sitting area" has nowhere to sit, is that kind of like if a tree fell in the forest in that park — if there were a forest there — and no one heard it? Is it really a sitting area at all? Or even a forest or a park? Think about it. [Queens Crap] Bushwick: Get your knives out, the Argentines are coming! Uh, your steak knives, that is, because they make great steaks. Get it? [BushwickBK] Dumbo: That landmark building at 10 Jay Street where the raves used to be held in the early aughts? Those aren't cabanas going on the roof — it's added five stories! Is it going residential? [DumboNYC]

The Original Sturgeon Queens Look Back on the LES

The Jews of New York, the PBS documentary we wrote about last week, was on the other day (it will air again Thursday at 9 p.m. on Channel 13) and it was as good as we had hoped. One highlight, included here for your viewing pleasure, is an extended interview with Anne Russ Federman and Hattie Russ Gold, the two surviving daughters from Russ & Daughters, talking about the Lower East Side back in the day. Keep an eye out for an image of Katz’s in its original incarnation! The Jews of New York [WNET] Earlier: Russ & Daughters Immortalized on PBS Video: Russ & Daughters Excerpt From PBS's The Jews of New York

Russ & Daughters Immortalized on PBS

The Jews of New York, PBS’s new documentary, could have any number of heroes; we were pleased to see that the family behind downtown lox legend Russ & Daughters was chosen to represent the New York–immigrant experience. As we recently noted here, their Houston Street store is one of the only things keeping the old Lower East Side’s Jewish life from disappearing into history. As scion Josh Russ Tupper tells us, “We’re perpetuating and cultivating the culture of Jewish experience. And whether we’re religious and go to temple is independent of the fact that we’re providing an experience of the Jewish–immigrant era of New York. It’s really important to maintain what it was like and what it is like.” Not to mention, they have some very nice herring there. Russes among stars of ‘The Jews of New York’ [Alfred University]

Bruni Interviews the Bros. Bromberg; Can Diner’s Steak Compete With Luger’s?

East Village: BondSt has made its West Coast debut in the new Thompson Hotel in Beverly Hills. [Snack] Hell’s Kitchen: Sietsema doesn’t think Metro Marché feels enough like a real bistro; maybe stepping out into Port Authority to view a homeless man peeing into a Dunkin’ Donuts cup just takes away the mystique. [Eat for Victory/VV] Lower East Side: 'inoteca is back, with new and improved wine storage. [Eater] Soho: Bruni uncovers the history of Blue Ribbon (which began in 1992 with a fancy French restaurant on Sullivan Street between Prince and Spring) and finds it interesting. [Diner’s Journal/NYT] Williamsburg: Diner has "begun doing Porterhouses for two, four, sometimes six, along with bone-in rib-eyes and T-Bones, cooked to order and slathered with marrow butter," right across from Peter Luger. Has anyone been to both to compare? [Brooklyn Based]

Husband and Wife Strippers Leave Us Hanging

Bushwick: If you squint really hard, you can pretend this house is in a suburban glade and not next to the elevated subway in a tough hood. Or so this Realtor's poster hopes. [Newyorkshitty] Carroll Gardens: Locals rejoice at the news that his-buildings-don't-fit-with-this-hood architect Robert Scarano is off the job at 333 Carroll Street, but what will become of that inappropriately huge penthouse thingy they've been building on the roof? [Pardon Me for Asking] Corona: A husband-wife stripper team were busted for using MySpace to lure two teenage girls to their home, then to an orgy at a Manhattan strip club. Hey, why didn't they ask us instead? God knows we're of age. [NYDN via Queens Crap]