Eating for a living takes the Underground Gourmet to all sorts of strange and mysterious places — the Upper West Side, for instance — but none more sinisterly exotic than the typical department-store café. As anyone who’s ever lunched on frozen yogurt and cantaloupe at Bloomingdale’s Forty Carrots or nibbled miniature quiche at the American Girl Cafe can attest, these shopaholic fuel stations are not the manliest places to tie on the noonday feedbag. So how the UG found himself ensconced at a petite table at Henri Bendel’s new third-floor Chocolate Bar the other day, God and Ms. UG only know.
Nello’s Nello Ballan gives Richard Johnson a $1,000 gift, and fifteen "Page Six" mentions of Ballan’s restaurant later, the embattled gossip column has the devil to pay. [NYT]
Jody Williams claims not to have read Frank Bruni’s review of Morandi, though she knows that people are laying odds on the date of her departure. [Mouthing Off/Food & Wine]
Related: Not So Bene [NYM]
Restaurant-industry lobbyists express a not-unexpected disappointment with the federal minimum-wage increase passed by Congress, finding it “entirely out of place” in a war-spending bill. [Nation's Restaurant News]
• Channel 7 is back on the air after a Sunday-night fire at its Upper West Side headquarters forced the staff to flee the studio. No victims, but the Live With Regis and Kelly set is kaput. [NYDN]
• It doesn't take extraordinary political perception to guess that Governor Spitzer and the Senate majority leader Joe Bruno hate each other; leave it to the Times, however, to treat it as an odd-couple comedy setup: "Mr. Spitzer’s eyes pierce. Mr. Bruno’s wink." [NYT]
• The Circle Line, which runs ferries to Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty, has unveiled a noiseless electric vessel complete with a "solar sail." It will be operational in a year and a half, provided the whole green vogue doesn't blow over. [AP via WCAX]
• New Jersey is launching an Office of Nutrition and Fitness, the nation's first; the Garden State leads the nation in obese children under 5 (a stunning 17.7 percent). [NYP]
• And who's paying for the slimming of N.J. kids? Well, maybe you: Governor Corzine is considering a tax hike that will put the end to the state's famously low gas prices and institute more toll roads. [amNY]
It’s Memorial Day weekend, folks, which means that until Tuesday, we’re peace outtie in our leased Audi. If you’re not going to the Hamptons for the opening of Stereo by the Seashore this weekend, and you don’t feel like being cooped up at one of PDT’s pre-opening parties, allow us to suggest a rooftop bar — twenty of them, in fact, from the don’t-even-think-about-it Private Roof Club and Garden at the Gramercy Park Hotel to Mé Bar, where you can simply order pizza and crack a cheap beer in the glow of the Empire State Building. Heck, maybe we’ll stay in town after all
Bar Buzz: Rooftops Revisited
The lighting of the tree in Rockefeller Center, happening Wednesday at seven, is one of those traditions for tourists that we could never bring ourselves to despise. The tree rules. But if you take children with you to go see it, where are you going to eat? Here are three kid-friendly suggestions. You might want to make reservations now.
When we heard that Gordon Ramsay's new joint was designed by David Collins, the man behind London's Nobu Berkeley and J Sheekey, we suspected the restrooms would be as high-flying as the 80-chef kitchen. Gord has threatened to ban anyone who photographs the food, but we chanced taking a camera into the loos.
Eater tries every which way of getting into the Waverly Inn short of just barging to a table. [Eater]
Lard czar admits eateries have "valid concerns." [NYP]
Cuozzo tells the city to ban transsexuals, not trans fats. Seriously. [NYP]
Eaters turning to small, local farms; Willie Nelson presumably psyched. [NYT]
Bruni ponders the meaning of "market price," chats with Danny Meyer "for a good 10 minutes without a moment of tension." [NYT]
Blogs buzz over the City Bakery bread that need not be kneaded. [Chow]
"Bordeaux guy" (and New York Magazine contributing editor) Jay McInerney, spotted at Cafe Cluny last night, likes his zins too. [NYS]
On West 28th Street: Crobar to shutter? [NYP]
On West 29th Street: Will the real Stereo please stand up? [NYP]
* Correction, November 17, 2006: The no-knead bread is made by Jim Lahey at Sullivan Street Bakery, not City Bakery as originally stated.
• Reelected or not, Alan Hevesi may be on his way out, and soon: The Times reports that governor-elect Eliot Spitzer will most likely be asking the State Senate to remove the wife-chauffeuring comptroller. Spitzer then gets to hand-pick and name his ex-ally's successor. [NYT]
• At least Hevesi reimbursed the state for the misused 88 grand. It's less clear how we get back the $1.3 million NYPD spent fighting bicycles that's right, bicycles. That's how much money the recent crackdown on the annual Critical Mass bike ride cost, according to an economist who tracks cops' expenditures. [Streetsblog]
• Lest you think the police are only battling hippies on bikes, the NYPD issued a somewhat bizarre, 2002-style scare statement telling business owners to be "on the lookout" for female jihadists who can "hide explosives by faking pregnancy or sweet-talk their way past security officers." Finally, a glorious merging of xenophobia and misogyny. Better check if their breasts are real, too! [NYDN]
• In a lurid Post front-pager, a Brooklyn man caught a cemetery caretaker urinating into a vase on his grandmother's grave and got into a scuffle with him. The Post then proceeds to piss puns all over story, including "'Relief' Grief" and "Mourner Pee-ved." [NYP]
• The rival Daily News, meanwhile, does an impressive job smearing Rupert Murdoch and by extension the Post with Nicole Brown Simpson's blood; at least four indignant items are devoted to the Fox TV special and HarperCollins book wherein O.J. flippantly what-ifs the murders. [NYDN]