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This Is Why New York’s Not Hot

The question the Gobbler gets asked more than any other is “What’s hot?” And for a several months now, the Gobbler has answered, with tedious regularity, “Nothing.” People are still clawing their way into Waverly Inn, and if you enjoy offal products done up in an elegant, Asian-fusion style, Momofuku Ssäm Bar is the place for you. But the grandiose cycle of openings which began with the arrival of Masa and Per Se at the Time Warner Center four years ago and reached a crescendo early last year with the giant Meat District extravaganzas like Buddakan and Del Posto has more or less petered out. Sure, there have a been a few tepid revivals (the Russian Tea Room), and bigfoot out-of-town chefs like Joël Robuchon and Gordon Ramsay have opened franchise outlets. There are plenty of restaurants in town, and plenty of them are busy. But this most recent boom may have run its course. Here are some possible reasons why.

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A Seasonal Summit of Tilefish, Fava Purée, and Rhubarb Salad at Amalia

At Amalia tonight, chef Ivy Stark has reeled in a fish seldom seen in New York dining circles – which is too bad, because golden tilefish is one of our favorites. Meaty, dense, and full of oily goodness, it’s similar to mackerel in taste, but much, much bigger, typically weighing about twenty pounds. Since it can’t be done whole, Stark serves a pan-seared, skin-on filet of the fleshy creature, with a very springlike purée of fava beans and pineapple-mint leaves (the latter being one of the latest designer hybrid herbs on the market). “It’s really very Egyptian,” Stark says. “I was looking through my cookbooks, and I came across it and decided it would be perfect.” The dish is also served with an Iranian-style salad of raw salted rhubarb with whole mint leaves, spring chives, lime, and garlic. “I saw people eating raw rhubarb on the street in Iran,” Stark says, “and the salt completely takes away the sourness and bitterness … I love not having to cook it. It’s so much more refreshing this way.”

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