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Fondue Contest Makes February Bearable

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]

Suba’s Spanish Lambapalooza

Spanish fine dining has been a hard sell in New York, but insofar as anyone has been able to make a go of it, it’s Seamus Mullen. Suba, Mullen’s chicly dungeon-like space on the Lower East Side, produces some of the city’s most intense and inventive Spanish-inspired food, and the Silla de Cordero, or saddle of lamb, is a perfect example. Three separate parts constitute the saddle, and Mullen puts them all together on plate, a tribute to the Spanish love of lamb: “the whole dish is about lamb, soup to nuts” he says, “lamb tenderloin, lamb belly, lamb loin, sheep’s milk cheese, sheep’s milk yogurt, and a nice lamby vinaigrette. We love it.” As always, mouse over the different parts of the dish to hear them described in the chef’s own words.

Free Dewar's (and Debate) on the LES Tonight; Bar Boulud Answers Bruni's Calls

Astoria: Angelo & Son’s Bakery gets a modern renovation: green and red backlighting for their sign. [Joey in Astoria] Brooklyn Heights: The co-founder of La Bouillabaisse on Atlantic Avenue in the nineties has opened a wine bar on the corner of Henry and Cranberry streets. Food like oysters and mini Kobe burgers will also be on the menu. [Brooklyn Eagle via Brooklyn Heights Blog] Lower East Side: Rayuela serves an interesting cocktail called Rye which combines "guava, lemon, agave nectar, mint leaves, Michter’s Straight Rye, Becherovka," and it’s not even one of Junior Merino’s signature cocktails. [Down by the Hipster] Tonight at the Slipper Room, there’s a free yuppie-versus-hippie debate featuring Max Silvestri and Lang Fisher, and it’s sponsored by Dewar’s. [Brooklyn Vegan] Prospect-Lefferts-Gardens: Brooklyn & Slim bar has transformed into Step Too Cafe, but it doesn’t look like much has changed. [Across the Park] Union Square Park: Luna Park has been demolished in preparation for the area’s overhaul. [Eater] Upper East Side: Bruni calls Bar Boulud and reaches a human! It sounds like DB put some backup personnel on the lines. [Diner’s Journal/NYT]

Dancer Boy Does Greenpoint

Carroll Gardens: Hey, have you heard the one about the yacht that got stuck trying to take a left turn onto Second Place from Smith Street? [Gowanus Lounge] East Village: Wow, look at that ... they actually put two bike lanes on Second Avenue to make it easier for bikers to cross Houston without incurring death from left-turning traffic. [Streetsblog] Greenpoint: Upper East Side office girls may have Chippendales strippers for their birthday and bachelorette parties. But the lucky ladies of Greenpoint have ... Dancer Boy! [Newyorkshitty]

Rebuilding the Temple on the Lower East Side

Eldgridge Street Synagogue
In the magazine this week, architecture critic Justin Davidson considers the recently restored Eldridge Street Synagogue, calling it a “splendid relic of a more deprived age.” Now a museum and Jewish cultural center, the synagogue opened in December after a decades-long restoration. We took our camera for a grand guided tour. Read the review, watch the video, and then take a trip downtown to see for yourself. Reconstructionist Judaism [NYM] Video: Inside the Eldridge Street Synagogue

Caviar and Vodka Warming Hearts in Midtown; Danal Not Down for Long in the East Village

Astoria: The guacamole at Luna de Juarez is prepared tableside. [Joey in Astoria] Central Park: Someone may take over the Tavern on the Green someday, but they won't be calling it Tavern on the Green. That name belongs to owner Jennifer LeRoy. [Insatiable Critic] East Village: From a tipster comment on yesterday’s nabe watch: Danal is reopening on January 10 in a new Fifth Avenue space just south of 13th Street. [Grub Street] Lincoln Center: Bruni gives Rosa Mexicano thumbs up for its kid-friendly service and adult-friendly fare. [Diner’s Journal/NYT] Lower East Side: Móle might make some of the tastiest tamales in town. [Gothamist] Midtown East: Reservations are required for Gastronomica editor, Russian professor, and cookbook author Darra Goldstein’s sustainable-caviar and vodka tasting next Wednesday in the Williams Club at 24 East 39th Street. [Williams Club] Nolita: Ceci-Cela on Spring Street will bake you a buttery galette des rois with only one day's notice … [Snack] Tribeca: … while Ceci-Cela on Chambers has officially closed after rising rents compelled the bakery to give up its lease. [Grub Street] Upper East Side: Rome expat Enrico Proietti (Baraonda, Per Lei, and Bella Blue) is opening a fourth Italian restaurant, which he’s named Ciaobella in commemoration of his first, long-closed, New York venture. [NYS] Upper West Side: Not only does DB source great charcuterie for Bar Boulud, the chef also knows how to throw a party. [Eater]

The Bike Shelters Are Closing In

Bushwick: Recently, a bunch of so-called freegans built a mountain of thrown-out breadstuffs here to protest food waste. Yum. [WildGreenYonder] Long Island City: The long-anticipated bike racks with sleek shelters have arrived, absolutely essential for … uh … not burning your butt on a sun-soaked banana seat? [Curbed] Lower East Side: The Streit family wanted $25 mil for their Rivington Street matzo factory (which'll likely go condo), but it looks like they may get more. That's a fact we'll leave unleavened by humor. [Vanishing New York]

Where Lou Reed Peed: Remembering the CBGB Toilet

At the end of today's Times feature on the "punk house" — those big, cavernous sticker-encrusted warehouses, in which punks from Brooklyn to Nebraska hold shows and bake and digest soy casseroles — is a small but touching paean to an underappreciated facet of now-defunct club CBGB: The toilet. "The be-stickered, be-fliered and graffiti-emblazoned black hole" was a modern icon, the Times says, and none other than Sonic Youth's Thurston Moore agreed. “That’s the one thing that sears itself into your memory,” he told the paper. “It’s that toilet.” Shudder. Something tells us the contractors working on the John Varvatos store would agree. Anarchy Rules, the Dishes Stay Dirty [NYT]

Oy Vey! Lower East Side to Lose Streit's Matzo Factory

Well, there goes the neighborhood (again). Today, Curbed brings us the sad news that Lower East Side landmark Streit's matzo factory is up for sale. Streit's, which has been operating at the corner of Rivington and Suffolk since 1925, has lately been run by the grandchildren and great-grandchildren of founder Aron Streit, and they're asking $25 million for the building, which will likely be torn down because, Curbed tells us, the interior doesn't really lend itself to renovation (all those matzo-making machines, we guess). So probably it will become condos. But don't despair, Lower East Siders. You may be losing the neighborhood, but you're not losing the product: Streit's will continue to produce matzo and other "ethnic delights" like Manhattan-style pickles with hot peppers. They'll just do it elsewhere, probably in New Jersey. Streit's Matzo Leaving LES, Wants $25 Million For Building [Curbed]

Stanton Social's Reinvented Chicken and Waffles

Stanton Social
Though the menu at Stanton Social is immense, there are always a few dominant dishes Lower East Side patrons order again and again. Recently it was the crab corn dogs, which Starchefs had chef Chris Santos prepare for the Rising Star Chef gala. Now it’s a postmodern “Chicken and Waffles” created by Santos and his soon-to-depart chef de cuisine Ryan Angulo. We spoke to Angulo about the dish. As always, mouse over the different elements to hear it described in the chef’s own words.

So This 2nd Avenue Deli Reopening — Is It Good for the Jews?

The 2nd Avenue Deli is back. But is it a harbinger of a Jewish renaissance or just the last fading pang of New York’s Jewish twilight? The question is raised in today’s issue of The Jewish Week, and it’s a good one. Despite the return of Chez Lebewohl, the world of Jewish food is already little more than a memory: Take away a few landmarks like Russ and Daughters, Katz’s, Yonah Schimmel, and Sammy’s Roumanian, and the entire world of Jewish food would be as forgotten as the Punic Wars. All the dairy restaurants, Romanian steakhouses, cafeterias, candy stores, bakeries, appetizing stores — they’re already forgotten, even in distant Brooklyn and Queens. The Week asked Arthur Schwartz, probably the city’s foremost authority on old-time New York food, and he gives a dismal picture: “Schwartz maintains that Jewish food has suffered greatly in quality over the last few decades, since Jews tend to eat their own food only on holidays — ‘and then we make everything we know, and then everyone gets sick.’” Add to that contemporary Jews' horror of the fatty meats that were the Jewish kitchen’s stock in trade, and you have a recipe for cultural oblivion. Can a revived 2nd Avenue Deli, or the brisket revival staged by a few barbejews, stem the tide? Stranger things have happened. ‘Not Just A Deli Like Any Other' [Jewish Week] Related: It's Time to Get Excited About the Second Avenue Deli