How'd we miss this yesterday? Our compatriots at Grub Street report that — are you sitting down? — Peter Luger has changed its menu. (The south-Williamsburg beef temple does, by the way, officially have a menu, though one rarely actually sees, much less uses, one.) After 120 years of serving porterhouse, Luger has added the option of rib eye. Why the change? It seems there just isn't enough good porterhouse in the city to meet the restaurant's needs, so the only alternative was to start offering other cuts (or to, as the Grubbies say has recently happened, force some diners to eat fish). Grub Street is not displeased with this development: "Truly great porterhouses are hard to come by; they’re not marbled the way rib eyes are, and they don’t have the same depth of flavor." Perhaps, but we won't be eating them. You go to Luger for the experience as much as for the food, and the experience includes porterhouse. We could get a good rib eye without riding the J train.
After 120 Years, Peter Luger Introduces a New Steak [Grub Street]
We have rarely come across a press event as epically bad (and badly run) as last night’s opening of Justin Timberlake’s gratuitous addition to the city’s barbecue scene, Southern Hospitality. Press and fans waited for over three hours for the man of the hour to arrive. (The publicists explained that he was always scheduled to arrive late, but insisted that the explosion at Grand Central was to blame for tardy red carpet. Um, we work in midtown and we made it to 76th Street and Second Avenue — JT's new restaurant is across the street from frat-boy-heaven Brother Jimmy’s, naturally — in less than 30 minutes.) A weird mishmash of boldfacers were in attendance: Seth Green, Lance Bass, the Reverend Al Sharpton, local club owners, a dude from Making the Band 4 — few of whom would give print reporters more than one-word responses. (“A fire,” “three,” and “no,” if you must know.) Once Timberlake finally arrived, the publicists, in another brilliant move, placed security guards in front of the press line, rather than in front of the crowd that was surging toward the former boy-bander. Timberlake beelined for the television cameras, looking like a member of the world’s coolest barber-shop quartet in a vest and flat-brimmed hat.
• The Rent Guidelines Board last night split the difference between a tenants' proposal and one from landlords and settled on renewal increases of 3 and 5 percent for one- and two-year leases, respectively, in rent-stabilized apartments. Both sides, predictably enough, railed against the decision. [NYP]
• The Times spots an interesting pattern in the turnover pattern at a Brooklyn community board: Each of the five members tossed out this week by Borough President Marty Markowitz was a vocal opponent of Atlantic Yards. [NYT]
• A fire broke out at a stable in Chestnut Ridge, about 30 miles north of the city, killing two horses and eight ponies. Yes, eight dead ponies. Good morning to you too. [amNY]
• Closing arguments have sounded in the Braunstein case, which went to the jury last night. The defense memorably insisted the hapless kidnapper's "brain broke," and the prosecution, well, didn't really disagree — but still found intent in his actions. [NYDN]
• The latest restaurant added to the lawsuit over minimum-wage violations: Jay-Z's 40/40 Club, which joins the allegedly ultrastingy B.B. King Bar and Grill (wait, are they now just targeting musician-owned places?) and others. [Metro NY]
• And five young Long Islanders had to be Tasered at Disney World; after getting caught spitting at patrons, the four teenage siblings and a friend had apparently decided on "jumping a cop" as the optimal next-step strategy. [NYP]
Meet Lynnea Scalora, a waiter-bartender (and bassist-artist) treading the fine line between the "dolled-up" LES cool and the "messy" Greenpoint cool: She slings booze at the Annex, where "people are very concerned about their image" but prefers waiting tables at the laid-back Enid's. How laid-back? Well, they toss Polish locals out for talking to customers. And scoff at the rubes who order dirty martinis, or coffee-and-dessert, or decaf, or Splenda ("these things aren't what happens at Enid's"). And snicker at bickering couples. Otherwise, it's an oasis of tolerance! There's more Lynnea at Grub Street.
Lynnea Scalora of Enid’s and the Annex Can Tell Her Hipsters Apart [Grub Street]
When they came for John's Pizzeria, we did not stand up, because we do not frequent John's Pizzeria. But who's left to stand up now? Everyone loves the Inhouse Nosh Café, the, well, in-house noshery in the lobby of New York HQ, 444 Madison Avenue. Or, at least, everyone does with the notable exception of city's Health Department, which in its ongoing, rats-video-fueled crackdown yesterday closed the place, claiming 110 violation points. (Twenty-eight or more points necessitates a reinspection.) Grub Street is crushed, and, in this rare case, we've got to say we agree. Poor Nosh.
Health Department Rampage Hits Grub Street Close to Home [Grub Street]
Ever feel like a big, juicy, greasy hamburger doesn't pack quite big enough of a fat-and-cholesterol punch for you? The line cooks at BLT Burger to the rescue, then. Killing time at the end of a shift one night, the kitchen crew at Laurent Tourondel's Sixth Avenue outpost threw a burger in the deep fryer to see what would happen. The magnificent result was the King Burger, a five-ounce hunk of ground beef coated, fried, and served on a soft bun with lettuce, tomato, and onion. There's more to it, and it's this week's Sandwich of the Week.
Sandwich of the Week: BLT’s King Burger, in All Its Deep-Fried Glory [Grub Street]
Last time Grub Street checked in with Sam Mason, the former wd-50 pastry chef who's slowly working toward opening his own spot, Tailor, he was worried about the floor. Would the hardwood acclimate to the humidity? Would he have to have grout in his kitchen? This week, it's on to the ceiling and the stairs — who knew there are specific "staircase architects"? — and to that little manner of the menu. But first, it's time to get dessert with members of the Experimental Cuisine Collective. What's that? Find out at Grub Street.
Sam Mason Joins a Molecular Secret Society [Grub Street]
Over-the-top restaurateur Jeffrey Chodorow — the man behind the near-universally reviled Kobe Club, which has caused him to revile, in turn, critics like our Adam Platt and the Times' Frank Bruni — opens his latest offering, Wild Salmon, today. Grub Street got a look inside the place yesterday, and a look at the menu, and based on that — and not, mind you, on actually eating anything there — pronounces it "the best hand he’s dealt himself in a while." Why? Find out at Grub Street.
Wild Salmon Swims Into View. Yes, 'Pun Intended' [Grub Street]
It's time for another Grub Street check-in with Sam Mason, the former wd-50 pastry chef who's working (and working and working) to open his own Soho spot, Tailor. Today we learn of yet another hiccup. Who knew you have to wait three days before laying hardwood floors? But there's an upside to that delay: It gave Sam time to go shopping for sexy Japanese knives. Everything you ever wanted to know about humidity, grout, and Japanese carbon steel awaits in The Launch at Grub Street.
Sam Mason on the Sexiness of Japanese Steel [Grub Street]
You think it's easy being a waiter at a high-end French restaurant? Hardly. Chanterelle server Ian Tomaschik has to serve and clear a six-course tasting menu while also replenishing bread and silverware and making drinks and coffees. "In the beginning," he told Grub Street, "I didn't think I could pull it off." But he has, for six years, and it's worth it: "Once I saw the name Barry Williams on the reservation list. I was like, I can’t believe I’m waiting on Greg Brady." Tomaschik is this week's Ask a Waiter.
Ian Tomaschik of Chanterelle Will Serve You Fake Wine If Your Secretary Asks [Grub Street]
The great Asian-Food Apocalypse of 2007 continues, with the protests that have been plaguing Saigon Grill spreading today to the Ollie's Noodle Shop chain on the Upper West Side, where staffers — deliverymen, waiters, others — filed suit for a string of labor violations. While print reporters took notes and TV cameras rolled, a group of Chinese immigrants — most from Fujian province and claiming they were paid only $1.40 an hour — gathered at the Lincoln Center location to announce the legal action. David Colodny, a lawyer with the Urban Justice Center, filed the federal suit on behalf of 44 workers at three of the five Ollie's locations — Lincoln Center, Times Square, and West 84th Street — for violating minimum-wage and other employment laws.
Former wd-50 pastry chef Sam Mason may have run into some speed bumps on the road to opening his Tailor, on Broome Street, but he's still chugging along, and he's still chronicling said chugging for Grub Street. In the latest installment, Mason sees his restaurant taking shape — literally: They're framing the kitchen and laying floors — and wonders how he'll make those floors look as weathered as he wants them to be. Stiletto-heeled dancing, anyone?
Sam Mason Needs Fifteen Women in Stilettos to Complete Construction [Grub Street]
It is, finally, just the sort of weather that makes a vigorous young New Yorker want to frolic — or at least eat and drink — in the great outdoors. Like, for example, at that bar-and-restaurant place inside Union Square. (It's technically called Luna Park.) But wasn't the city planning to do some renovation at the north end of the park, something with that restaurant? Indeed, and yesterday Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe caught us up on the planning. In 2004, he announced plans to complete the Square's beautification by joining the park's two playgrounds and creating a year-round eatery where that weird fortresslike structure now stands, near 17th Street. But after local sputtering, Benepe confirmed to us, Parks has ditched the controversial year-round part.
We haven't yet been to Morandi, Keith McNally's new Italian spot in the West Village, but as lunchtime approaches — and as we learn about chef Jody Williams's duck sandwich — we must say we're tempted to head over. It's Muscovy duck breast on Balthazar Bakery bread, plus lots of other things. We'll let Williams explain, in this week's Annotated Dish at Grub Street.
Morandi's Deceptively Simple Duck Sandwich [Grub Street]