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Good Grief

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• 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]

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Rats Ruin It for Everyone

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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]

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Introducing GONYC, Which We Proclaim the Best Thing Ever

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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.

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Poor Joe Bruno

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• 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]

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Apparently We're Calling This Chodogate

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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 both known 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]

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Show Me the Way to the Next Liquor Bar

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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]

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Something's Fishy at Picholine

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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]

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Brit Bares It in Meatpacking Bar

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.

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Celebrity Restaurateurs: They Get Slow Service Just Like Us!

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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.

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The Gobbler's Guide to Avoiding Bad Meals

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]

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How to Make Eggs Like a Pro, and Other Adventures in Opening a Restaurant

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Former wd-50 pastry chef Sam Mason will be opening a joint of his own, Tailor, at the beginning of March. As he prepares for the big day, he's been chronicling his exploits for Grub Street. In today's installment, he considers tableware, purchases some kitchen machinery, and reveals how to make the most perfect soft-boiled egg. (Hint: You won't be able to do it at home.) Learn about it at Grub Street. Sam Mason and the Fabulous Egg Machine [Grub Street]

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All Hail the Top Chef

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Well, hey, who'd have thunk it? Turns out Ilan won Top Chef. (Of course he did. No surprise ending has been this preordained since John Faso thought he stood a chance against Spitzer.) But, still, even though the result wasn't in doubt, the great existential question of reality television demands attention: What did it mean? Thankfully, Grub Street's Josh Ozersky joined New York's favorite couch potato, Adam Sternbergh, to answer just that question. Read their colloquy on Grub Street. Ilan Won, Yes, But What Does It All Mean? [Grub Street]

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Gramercy Park's Park Chinois: Imitation Is the Highest Form

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A room at the Gramercy Park Hotel: $500. The steak-frites at Balthazar: $30. Being able to order the latter while staying in the former, at any hour: Priceless. Grub Street's Daniel Maurer is reporting that when Park Chinois, the hotel's restaurant, finally opens in the spring, its 24-hour room-service menu will offer facsimiles of classic dishes from many well-known New York restaurants. The list isn't close to final, but Grub Street's got the inside track on some likely contenders. Gramercy Park Room Service: 'This Next One Is a Nobu Cover' [Grub Street]

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No, One Does Not Go to Lucky Cheng's for the Food

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We know we're biased, but we say this in all seriousness: Grub Street has just published its best Ask a Waiter thus far, and what we have to imagine will be the best Ask a Waiter ever. It's with Dirty Delta of Lucky Cheng's, and you'll learn everything you ever wanted to know — plus much more — about being a drag-queen waitress. What does Dirty think about the East Village institution's food, for example? "You don't come to Lucky Cheng's to eat gourmet food," she says. "You come to see some bitch in a G-string acting crazy at your table." But of course. There's so much more at Grub Street. Dirty Delta of Lucky Cheng's Serves Orgy Bowls to Britney Spears [Grub Street]

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‘Food & Wine’ Burns ‘Top Chef’

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Want to know if all those rumors about the Top Chef winner were right? Well, that's easy to do: Some poor schmuck at Food & Wine magazine made the "pack your knives and go"–level error of posting an interview with the winner to the mag's Website early. It was soon removed, but not before some readers mastered the copy-and-paste functions. Some non-spoiled tidbits? The winner found judge Padma "mesmerizingly beautiful," he likes his chicken skin extra-crispy, and he has what is often referred to as "Tin-Tin-ish" hair. Want to know more? Go ahead and click — just don't say we didn't warn you. ‘Top Chef’ Winner Revealed — For Real! [Grub Street] Breaking: Top Chef Finale Spoiled AGAIN [Eater LA]

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Feeding the Paper Lions

If you pay attention to local foodie press, you've been hearing a lot about PrimeTime Tables, the new service that, essentially, scalps reservations at top restaurants. You've heard speculation about who's behind it, debates about its morality, doubts about whether it actually works. But you haven't heard what it's like to actually use the service. Until now. This weekend, Grub Street's Josh Ozersky pulled off a feat of participatory journalism the likes of which hasn't been seen since George Plimpton last suited up in Detroit. Read all about it on Grub Street. We Submit Ourselves to PrimeTime Tables [Grub Street]

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