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Analyzing the Counter at Pichet Ong’s Bakery

Next door to his sleek dessert bar P*ONG, pastry chef Pichet Ong has opened a small, sunlit bakery called Batch. The treats here — little cupcakes, chewy cookies, and cupped puddings — are far more familiar. But the tastes may not be.

What Can’t Pichet Ong Do With Foie Gras?

We checked in with dessertologist Pichet Ong recently and found him inordinately pleased with one of his newest creations: a foie gras Chantilly “taco,” created for the Valentine's Day tasting menu and now served every day at P*ONG. The shell is made of chocolate and hazelnut, the filling foie gras Chantilly, with a little bit of red-chile jam for heat. “It has that creamy, melt-in-your-mouth feel that people want from foie gras, with the crunch from the taco. Everyone loves it.” So says Ong. And there’s more foie in the future!

The Hidden History of Starbucks; Café Carlyle Still Bumpin'

Astor Place: The building that houses Starbucks has such interesting history (saw a bloody theater riot in 1849 at what was once the Astor Place Opera House; held a barber shop where mobster Albert Anastasia got slaughtered while sitting in his chair) that Lost City has decided to target "kudzu-like chains" around town and attempt to uncover their past incarnations. [Lost City] Chinatown: Dumpling House has reopened and the renovations include tables and chairs! [Eater] East Village: Bar Veloce is returning to the space it once occupied before transforming into now deceased Room 4 Dessert. [Eater] Tribeca: Harrison Tavern has already closed after a July opening. Clearly, offering ranch-chicken pizza did not bring in herds. [Grub Street] Upper East Side: Café Carlyle has added a D.J.-hosted soirée Thursday through Saturday from midnight to 3 a.m. to its cabaret-night repertoire, and a new cocktail menu comes from the mixologist at Bemelmans Bar. [Zagat] West Village: Pichet Ong is renaming his dessert bar P*ong & Batch at the end of the month when he’ll be expanding the space to include a retail bakery. [Zagat] Williamsburg: Breakfast mecca egg (it's too cool to have a capital letter) deigns to open for dinner. [TONY]

If It's a Frozen Dessert at P*ong, Blame the Pacojet

It takes more than skilled hands, sharp knives, and a creative mind to power New York’s restaurants. There's also some heavy equipment that deserves periodic recognition. Today’s dessert alchemists draw from a considerable arsenal in their battle against conventional cake and ice cream. But the real secret weapon for many of these artisans is the Pacojet, a kind of high-tech blender. Pichet Ong was one of the earliest adopters of the Pacojet and uses a customized one at P*ong for all of his ice creams, sorbets, and ices.

Bruni Maintains Luger's Middling Reputation; Bar Fry's Tempura More Varied Than You'd Think

Frank Bruni complains about the steak, the service, the sides, and the salad at Peter Luger but caves and hands it two stars. [NYT] Restaurant Girl gives Elio’s two and a half stars, citing its “charming lure of old-world” Italian, code for a menu that has barely changed in 26 years. [NYDN] Alan Richman visits Il Mulino and in crushing it strikes a blow against “this style of oversized, oversauced, overcooked cuisine” with all the force he can muster. [Bloomberg]

A ‘Top Chef’ Surprise and Other Summer Treats

The lull of midsummer is already over, and new growths sprout everywhere. A young chef gives his first restaurant a go, a veteran gets his own place for the first time, and an established star gets a fresh start. We have restaurant openings, new and better lemonades, and even a baked squash blossom. Summer is starting to tire, but the food stays sharp.

Room 4 Dessert Is Dead, Long Live Room 4 Dessert

In what might be the least surprising news of the summer, Will Goldfarb has told Grub Street that Room 4 Dessert, at least in its current location, is kaput. (The place has been closed for months, but Goldfarb has been promising it would reopen.) “We’re officially pulling the plug on 17 Cleveland Place,” the cake whiz tells us. “But we’re going to reopen, bigger and better, six months from today.” Goldfarb, theatrical as ever, refuses to disclose the location of the new place, except to say that it’s downtown “in another high-profile restaurant row.”