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Chef Counters on the Rise; Chefs Put in Their Time on the Line

As chefs and cooks take on more roles of service, they cut out more costs and create a more intimate dining experience, especially at restaurants with counters overlooking the food preparation. [NYT] Related: Ringside Seats at the Chef's Counter Apparently, restaurants’ hanging of red velvet curtains in colder months signals metaphors of birth and womblike spaces for diners. Ew. [NYO] Chefs like Akhtar Nawab of Elettaria and Josh Eden of Shorty’s.32 both spent years cooking on the line before being able to fly solo. [TONY]

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Sparkling-Pink Sake Might Tickle Your V-Day Fancy in Hell's Kitchen; Commerce Opens Tomorrow

Chelsea: RUB and Swich are just two under-$10 lunch options in this list devoted to the nabe. [Gridskipper] East Village: A Spanish wine bar called Pata Negra opens Friday at 345 East 12th Street. [NYT] Flatiron: A Voce pastry chef Josh Gripper classifies himself as single and dangerous. [Restaurant Girl] Fort Greene: Don’t hold your breath waiting for lamb sliders from the French-Moroccan restaurant that was supposed to open on DeKalb Avenue; the space wasn’t completed, and the sign and menu have already been taken down. [Eat for Victory/VV] Hell’s Kitchen: If you want to explore dining options outside our comprehensive Valentine’s Day Guide, you could look to Kyotofu, which is serving a three-course dessert prix fixe promising a raspberry Valrhona-dark-chocolate fondue and Hou Hou Shu pink-sparkling sake. [Kyotofu] West Village: Commerce opens tomorrow in the former Blue Mill Tavern space and there will be a 20 percent discount on food through Monday. [NYT]; the last outlet of Flor’s Kitchen will shut itself down this Sunday citing problems with the landlord. [Eater]

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This Year’s ‘Saveur’ 100 Is Thin on the NYC Love

We know another year has gone by in the food world because the Saveur 100 is out. The list “offers a vivid snapshot of the wide … world of food,” says the magazine, so the picks skewed global — licorice from New Zealand, anyone? — but we are, as always, only interested in the New York stuff.

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The Mystery of the Pitmasters Stymies the ‘Times’

The Times, touching on a story Grub Street broke when Moses was in short pants, had a big feature on the dearth of experienced pitmasters Sunday, pegged on GS pal Big Lou Elrose of Wildwood. The piece marvels at the quick ascent of Big Lou from working an Ozone Park lunch wagon to his current post, but in fact, Elrose’s bones were made as Adam Perry Lang’s right hand man in competition; the lunch wagon was just a lark. Still, the city’s top pitmasters are as baffling to food writers as they are to the general public. Their job is hard to understand, because nothing they do happens while customers are present to observe. The pitmaster's art is exercised in the dead night, in secrecy and silence, and outside observers rarely get any glimpse of what it involves. There is one factor that never changes, though, and will always separate real pitmasters from merely titular ones.

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RUB Bringing Barbecue to Los Angeles?

RUB Chopper
Hill Country and the forthcoming Wildwood have been getting most of the headlines lately, but RUB seems to be the New York barbecue most likely to take over the world. The huge Vegas operation is set to open on the 15th at the Rio, and owner Andrew Fischel also has plans to open an immense RUB in Los Angeles. “It’s still something we’re in talks on, but it’s going to be big!” Fischel tells us. Of course it is. RUB is a planet eater. But will this occasion the building of a second RUB chopper? Or will L.A.'s car culture demand a RUB hot rod, possibly with a smoke-belching blower coming out of the hood? Or maybe a RUB lowrider? Fischel is mum on the possibilities, but we can’t help but dream. Related: It’s Not a Motorcycle, Baby. It’s a Mobile Barbecue Pit.

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Last Weekend at Red Hook Ball Fields; RUB Introduces Frito Pie to Chelsea

Astoria: You can ask the chefs from Bistro 33, at 19-33 Ditmars Boulevard, to prepare a special tasting menu — but be sure to request the chocolate-espresso-stout ice cream served on a warm fudge brownie for dessert. [Joey in Astoria] Chelsea: RUB has introduced the “open-face” and “sloppy” grease fest that is Frito pie to its menu and it’s best inhaled with a kindred Texas brew. [Gothamist] East Village: David Chang is looking for one experienced cook to join his team for Momofuku Ko, "a very unique operation, with the possibility of no servers." [Eat for Victory/VV] Greenwich Village: Anita Lo has released a recipe for Rickshaw Dumpling Bar’s kimchee-and-tofu dumplings. [Restaurant Girl] Red Hook: This is the last Sunday of the season for the ball-fields vendors. [Eat for Victory/VV]

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This Theater Serves Pork, Not Popcorn

Warm weather is running out for Harry’s Water Taxi Beach, the aquatic venue that was the site of Meatopia and any number of other summer frolics. But the place has one more big event left in it: this weekend’s barbecue movie series, the last segment of the first annual NYC Food Film Festival. Starting tonight and running through Saturday, catch titles like the much buzzed-about (in BBQ circles, anyway) Barbecue: a Texas Love Story or Dial S for Sausage. All will be accompanied by real barbecue, prepared by Meatopia veterans Scotty Smith of RUB and Robby Richter of Big Island Barbecue. “These are great films which happen to be about barbecue,” says documentarian George Motz, one of the festival’s organizers. “The food, though, will make it a multisensory experience.” After the jump, catch a sneak preview of Barbecue: a Texas Love Story.

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Meatopia IV: A Visual Feast

Basting
Last night's Meatopia was everything we could have dreamed of and more: an unforgettable spectacle of infanticide with world-class chefs, world-class gluttons, and the beauty of the Water Taxi Beach as a setting for both. Here's some hint of its wonders, captured by society photographer Melissa Hom.

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It's Not a Motorcycle, Baby. It's a Mobile Barbecue Pit.

RUB Chopper
When we heard that RUB was commissioning Orange County Chopper, of American Chopper fame, to make a mobile barbecue pit, we thought it was a pretty cool idea. We expected it to be a novelty, like a two-headed kitten, or the world’s largest ball of string. Nothing prepared us for the mind-numbing coolness of the actual RUB Chopper: The restaurant’s owner, Andrew Fischel, correctly characterizes as “the sickest, baddest thing in the world.”

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