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]
Eve Dunlop has been a waitress at Nolita's neighborhood Thai joint, Lovely Day, for two years, and she tries to give the place a "hangout" kind of vibe. "We're trying to make a friendly environment," she says. "Anyone's welcome to join in our conversation." So might the locals who come by to hang out and converse — some of whom have been known to get naked ("we're all friends here," Dunlop says) — be the sort you'd call hipsters? Not at all, she says. "They're neighborhood people, young working professionals who are into music and art." Of course. Totally different. Eve's got much more to say at Grub Street; she's this week's Ask a Waiter.
Eve Dunlop of Lovely Day Insists Her Customers Aren't Hipsters [Grub Street]
Famed midtown French restaurant Brasserie LCB was shuttered by the Health Department after the chef got into a spat with inspectors. Lindsay Lohan performed a stripper routine at the Box, and the crowd went wild. She also rebuffed a karaoke come-on from former flame Wilmer Valderrama. Richard Johnson and wife Sessa von Richthofen gave birth to a baby girl. Tom Brady and Gisele dined at the Spotted Pig on Saint Patrick's Day. Hillary supporters with $2,300 to burn can go biking with Bill Clinton on the Upper West Side as part of a fund-raising effort.
• The three cops indicted in the 50-shot shooting of Sean Bell pleaded not guilty yesterday. They have quite a bit to deny, too: The charges could get two of them 25 years in prison. [NYT]
• Yesterday's antiwar rally in the financial district brought a whopping 44 arrests for disorderly conduct. Considering the event involved a total of 70 people — in organizers' estimation! — that's quite a percentage. [amNY]
• Naomi Campbell started her community-service sentence yesterday, in a ritual that, once we've seen Boy George wield a broom, has become a kind of routine (if bizarre) photo op. The News lists the details of her work attire for the curious. [NYDN]
• Coming soon to NYU: the treasure trove of the Communist Party of America. Marvel at Joe Hill's rhyming will, Lenin buttons, and "smuggled directives from Moscow"! [NYT]
• And the Health Department is still on its rat-fueled, restaurant-shuttering rampage; the latest victim of the new zeal is Brasserie LCB on 55th Street, where the French owner says the inspectors "acted like the Gestapo." So he didn't mind closing, then? [NYP]
Moroccan in Bay Ridge? Turkish in Gravesend? Sign us up. Grub Street has prepared a quick, opinionated guide to the more offbeat pleasures of Brooklyn Restaurant Week. At some places, the three-courses-for-$21.12 model actually sounds like a markup (how much chicken do you need to put away at Los Pollitos II to even hit that total?), but hell, that's part of the charm.
Take the Cab to Deepest Brooklyn for Restaurant Week [Grub Street]
• Hundreds of people, not all of them Muslims, attended the Islamic funeral ceremony for the nine children and a mother who perished in the last week's fire. Mayor Bloomberg quoted the Koran; strangers offered to rebuild the house and pay for the funerals. [NYT]
• The newly berserk Health Department shut down Union Square's Coffee Shop after finding 120 violation points. The department's management, meanwhile, denies a concerted crackdown, saying inspectors are told to "adhere to current policies." That's a crackdown. [WNBC]
• The indefatigable Clipper Equity, whose $1.3 billion Starrett City bid was killed to the applause of every authority imaginable, is back with a new offer: same price plus ironclad "proof" it won't raise rents. How will it make money, then? Why, build more housing on the property. [NYP]
• Here's a good moral-compass exercise: Try to work up some compassion for Jeannie Kraph, who says she's being muscled out of her Williamsburg rental. Kraph has been paying $150 a month in rent for the last 50 years. [amNY]
• And Al Sharpton does nothing to disprove his supposed jealousy of Barack Obama (cited in the Post) by fuming to the usually Al-friendlier Daily News about senator's "nerve." "I want to know his position on police brutality!" He loves it, Rev. [NYDN]
Grub Street brings us the worrisome news that the New York City Department of Health is going all vigilante on area restaurants following last week's embarrassing rat infestations. This weekend's victims? West Village stalwart John's Pizzeria and neighboring Risotteria. Operators of both restaurants were furious, as were thwarted customers. Grub Street has all the dirt (which may or may not be in the restaurants themselves).
Customers Rush to Pizzeria's Defense [Grub Street]
So nymag.com is launching this new service, and, although we know it's our job to say so, we'd say it anyway: It's pretty amazingly cool. It's called GONYC, and it lets you access the listings info we've got on the site from the comfort and privacy of your cell phone. How's that? It's a text-back service. Send a text message to GONYC — that's 46692, for those of you more numerically inclined — saying, for example, "name planet rose" (we never remember if it's on First or A), and it nearly immediately returns the bar's location, phone number, and whether it's a Critic's Pick. (Avenue A, as it turns out.) You can look up a restaurant or bar by name (type "name" then the name: "name wxou"), bars by location (type "bar" then a Zip Code, borough, or neighborhood), or restaurants by cuisine and location ("food" then cuisine then neighborhood: "food chinese west village"). We've been playing with it all morning, and we're loving it. It's explained with pretty pictures at nymag.com/mobile. Go.
Varietal pastry chef Jordan Kahn is, we're told, the pastry chef in New York right now. And what does the pastry chef want his desserts to taste like? Purple, apparently. In this week's Annotated Dish, he deconstructs his "Meditation in Purple," explaining all its luscious ingredients. Check it out at Grub Street.
Varietal's 'Meditation in Purple': Need We Say More? [Grub Street]
• We've heard some incriminating things about Joe Bruno, Albany's top Republican, lately; he's been enmeshed in some fishy investments and nepotistic dealings, and the FBI is all over him. Now comes the most shocking revelation: All this hustle and the dude isn't even rich. [NYT]
• The Health Department on the shuttered KFC–Taco Bell that became one of West Village's main attractions this past weekend for its scampering rats: "It doesn't look like the inspection that was done … met our standards." What do you mean? There's not a drop of trans fat on these babies! [WNBC]
• Apparently state senators were serious about protesting the $1.3 billion sale of Brooklyn's subsidized enclave Starrett City to an -private equity group. After the obligatory photo ops glad-handing the residents, they're actually trying to pass a bill that will block the deal. [NYP]
• More grief for JetBlue: Last night's relatively light dusting of snow caused the now-extra-cautious carrier to cancel a whopping 68 of today's flights. Yeah, we'd be unloading that stock right about now, if we had any. [AP via CBS News]
• And how can you tell someone's got a touch of Oscar envy? James "King of the World" Cameron will hold a press conference in New York today — to declare that he has found Jesus's grave. [amNY]
Yesterday morning, as you likely saw and no doubt heard, Kobe Club proprietor Jeffrey Chodorow took out a full-page ad in the Times dining section to lambaste Frank Bruni's previous pan of his establishment. In the seven-paragraph (and, we must note, poorly punctuated) screed, Chodorow claimed Bruni's attack on him was personal and bashed the critic for having no real "food background." (Remind us, by the way, not to eat in Chodorow's restaurants, as, lacking a food background of our own, we'll clearly be unqualified to know whether we enjoyed our experience.) He also named three critics who, unlike Bruni, liked the Kobe Club: New York's beloved Gael Greene (who indeed fawned over the restaurant in her 240-word squib), and Bob Lape of Crain's and John Mariani of Esquire (who are bothknown to be on the take). He didn't mention that lots of critics hated it, including New York's chief food critic, Adam Platt, who gave the Kobe Club no stars and called it "a bizarre agglomeration of restaurant fashions and trends, most of them bad." But Platt earned a glancing dig, when Chodorow announced an "After Adam" feature on his new blog. Platt responded yesterday afternoon on Grub Street, and last night, Grub's Josh Ozersky checked in with the ranting restaurateur to find out if there was more to say on the topic. Apparently there was.
The Gobbler Responds to Mr. Chodorow's Broadside [Grub Street]
We Ask Jeffrey Chodorow If He's Been Feeling Well Lately [Grub Street]
For as long as there have been bars, there have been bartenders, and for as long as there have been bartenders, there have been liquored-up customers talking to them. What do they say to you when you're the bartender at Schiller's Liquor Bar? Well, the girls give you their numbers, the guys tell you about the urinary exploits, and a middle-aged guy likes to ask about sex clubs. There's a lot more in this week's Ask a Waiter, at Grub Street.
Boyfriend Cheating? Corey Lima of Schiller's Is There for You [Grub Street]
So you've been to Picholine, and you've had the $80 three-course prix fixe, and you've loved the first course, chef Terrance Brennan's famous sea-urchin panna cotta, which you know to be one of only two items on the menu held over from the previous incarnation of the restaurant. But, still, you've always felt like you don't quite know the dish. And you've always wished Brennan would stop and explain it to you. Well, kids, now you're in luck: Grub Street's got a new Annotated Dish, and it's Picholine's sea-urchin panna cotta. Learn all about its fishy fabulousness at Grub Street.
Picholine’s ‘Oceanic’ Sea-Urchin Panna Cotta [Grub Street]
Britney Spears changed out of her dress and into a bikini at One Little West 12th. Beyoncé is jealous of Jennifer Hudson. The New Republic is going bi-weekly but is not cutting any staff. Chelsea club BED was set to be closed for renovation, and the fatal brawl there earlier this month isn't helping matters. Ian Schrager's Chinese restaurant at the Gramercy Park Hotel is back on but will be helmed by a Japanese chef. Zac Posen kicked socialite Arden Wohl out of his Fashion Week after-party because she didn't come to his show or wear his clothes to the after-party. Paris Hilton is jealous of fellow sex-tape star Kim Kardashian.
When Drew Nieporent — the man behind Nobu, Montrachet, and Tribeca Grill — is at the table next to you, it would seem worth following his lead. And so when we noticed him beside us (thanks, Times Magazine!) for brunch at Geoffrey Zakarian's Café at Country yesterday, we realized we were listening to our neighbors' conversation a little more closely than would normally be polite. He ordered the tartare of beef, and therefore so did we. His arrived, served in a Mason jar along with miniature French bread sticks, and looked damn tasty. We couldn't wait for ours. But wait we did: Almost an hour later, it still hadn't appeared. Nieporent's entrée hadn't either, and so we found ourselves discussing restaurant service with one of the legends of the business.
The most amusing review of Graydon Carter's Waverly Inn we've yet read (and perhaps the most honest one), photographed in the window of the Old Town Bar on East 18th Street and offered today by our old friends at Gawker:
Who knows what evil lurks in the heart of bad New York restaurants? The Gobbler knows. In his Grub Street column this week, Adam Platt distills the nine signs you're about to have a really sucky meal. From maître d' inspections to the "truffles-truffled" dichotomy to warnings about the size of the desserts (anything bigger "than your mother's handbag" is to be avoided), the Gobbler's got the telltale clues. Check them out on Grub Street.
Signs You're About to Have an Awful Meal [Grub Street]