Self-described “vegetarian bistro” Counter, home of the iridium martini, has become a Certified Green Restaurant™ (we’re required to put a ™ after that, or they’ll force us to drink iridium). Becoming a truly green restaurant in the eyes of the Green Restaurant Association doesn’t happen overnight, but Counter has taken the initial steps by using nontoxic chemicals, energy-efficient lighting, recycling used fryer oil, and using occupancy-sensing lights. Not all green restaurants seek the GRA’s blessing (take what might be the greenest of them all, Birdbath), but for good measure we broke the certified restaurants down according to their current ratings.
In the meat business, sourcing is the ultimate boast: It’s not enough to claim your meat is “prime,” when any meathead worth his cholesterol knows how promiscuously that once-proud term is thrown around. No, today’s steakhouse has to have boutique sources or, even better, their own prize bull, as at Primehouse NY. But no meat man has a more obsessive take on quality than Adam Perry Lang. The Robert's and Daisy May chef tells us that he’s currently in the process of researching what will be his own beef program in Montana. “It’s so important to understand it, to be able to control what’s happening. I want to say that I’m doing everything I can to get it where I want it. I want to raise beef the right way. I want to know I’m doing the right thing.”
The FDA is expected to declare meat and milk from cloned livestock safe to eat next week. So far, media coverage has been hilarious. Whole Foods has already issued a statement that includes our favorite new phrase: “Whole Foods Market is committed to providing consumers with clone-free products.” And the Wall Street Journal, which first reported the news, penned this gem: “The meat industry is more bullish on cloned products than the dairy industry.”
The best steaks at Primehouse NY are good enough to earn a single star from Frank Bruni — which is saying something, given that he had problems with service, didn't like the other entrées, and even found the rib eyes to be less than they ought to be. But the Creekstone strips carried the day, as they always do. [NYT]
The small, porky tapas at Jason Neroni's Cantina seem to impress Robert Sietsema, but his review leaves you with the sense that, croquettes aside, the place is still a work-in-progress. [VV]
Paul Adams dines at Smith's and praises the rich, possibly too rich, appetizers, while frowning over some of the mains. But on the whole he likes the place: “Some dishes are excessive by design, others poorly executed in the heat of the dinner rush, and a few, like the pasta, remarkably good and worthy of a return visit — perhaps after the first wave of crowds has moved on.” [NYS]
The magazine’s content this week, which is copious, compelling, and diverse, is also curious. How in the world did Adam Platt give Primehouse New York the two stars we thought it deserves? Is it possible that the big man is softening? Likewise, we expected Gael Greene to be skeptical about Shelly’s La Tradizionale, a Shelly Fireman restaurant that was Shelly’s New York just a few short months ago — but instead she’s agog over the Italian seafood. Rob and Robin devise a guide to group dinners in the city, an antidote to the annual stress of holiday gatherings. For Hanukkah, they consulted with Julian Medina of Toloache for a Mexican take on latkes. Plus, there’s plenty of news in the openings department: Philoxenia makes a welcome return to Astoria, and Rheon Café brings high-tech Japanese restaurant equipment to New York.
Fiamma hits the three-star jackpot, tickling Frank Bruni in his sweet spot and earning itself the critical credibility Steve Hanson wanted when he hired Fabio Trabocchi. Bruni admits the place isn't Italian, but he is in love with the ultrarich, ultracomposed food. [NYT]
Market Table took over the space that was Shopsin's, and this gave the Randall Lane the good idea of reviewing both restaurants at the same time. Market Table earns four stars (out of six, mind you) for its solid food and gracious service. Kenny, in his new digs at Essex Street Market, gets three for his still terrific food and his not-so-gracious service. [TONY]
The Fiamma review should wash away any melancholy caused by Alan Richman's lukewarm number on Primehouse, Fiamma's sister. Richman likes the steaks pretty well and singles out crab cake for enthusiastic praise, but he casts a skeptical eye on pretty much everything else, from its resident bull-god to the Himalayan salt aging room. [Bloomberg]
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.
Park Avenue Autumn's gimmicky concept might have turned Frank Bruni catty but for the fact that Craig Konketsu's cooking is so flawlessly brilliant. The place got two stars, and the review reads like three. [NYT]
Paul Adams must be a happy man today just for the headline he came up with for his positive review of the cheese-centric newcomer Casellula: “The Cheese Stands Alone.” It sounds like it does, too, with what might be the best macaroni and cheese going. [NYS]
Peter Meehan puts the Five Guys, and their deliberately dried-out, overrated burger, in their place; Julia Moskin gives Market Table its first praise, a measured and thoughtful mini-review. [NYT]
Carroll Gardens: New wine bar Black Mountain Wine House on Union Street is filled to the brim with lovely sipping ladies. [Eat for Victory/VV]
Flatiron: Diddy has closed Justin’s because it’s not big enough. [NYP] Stephen Hanson’s steakhouse, Primehouse, opens Monday. [Zagat]
Harlem: Fall registration is open for free proper-dining lessons at “New York City’s only tuition-free etiquette school for children,” the Development and Finishing Institute. [Uptown Flavor]
Soho: New Fiamma chef Fabio Trabocchi “brought with him 12 members of the staff of Maestro, in McLean, Va., his previous employer" in order to ease his New York transition. [NYT]
Upper East Side: David Burke's Hudson Valley Foie Gras ‘PB&J’ Tourchon is pushing it. [NYO]
Williamsburg: The best way to be sure your beef is prime is to eat at a top steakhouse, and lucky for you, according to “Amy Rubenstein, whose family owns Peter Luger, the shortage is over.” [NYP]