Feeding the Paper LionsIf 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]
Watching ‘Top Chef’ With a Top Chef
Everybody’s watching Bravo’s latest hit, Top Chef — even professional chefs (and professional food bloggers). After last night’s installment, Grub Street’s Josh Ozersky checked in with chef Jimmy Bradley for the Red Hat, Mermaid Inn, and Harrison restaurateur’s take on the developments. Last season’s winner, Harold Dieterle, previously worked at Bradley’s the Harrison. With that insight, who does Bradley think will win this time? Ilan. Why? Find out on Grub Street.
Red Cat Owner Betting on Ilan to Win ‘Top Chef’ [Grub Street]
Related: Sam Talbot (Formerly) of ‘Top Chef’ Splurges at Nobu [Grub Street]
‘Top Chef’’s Marcel Doesn’t Love Joel Robuchon That Much [Daily Intel]
So Hot She’s Flammable: Host Roasted by Top Chefs [Intel]
$72,000 Monthly Rent for Time Warner Bistro
So how expensive is it to open a restaurant in the Time Warner Center? According to rumors Grub Streeter Josh Ozersky is hearing, rent alone can set you back $72,000 a month. Grub’s sources say that’s what Marc Murphy will pay to open a new branch of his Tribeca bistro Landmarc in the upscale mall at Columbus Circle. If Jean-Georges Vongerichten couldn’t make a go of it there, can things work out for the far more modest Landmarc? Josh considers the question at Grub Street.
Landmarc in the Time Warner Center May Already Be Doomed [Grub Street]
the morning line
• We’re 48 hours into Hillary’s official campaign for the presidency, and already the Times is wondering who’d fill her Senate seat. Names that have come up: Paterson, Meeks, Velasquez, Lowey — and even Suozzi. A News survey, meantime, finds Hillary beating Obama handily — in New York City. (Of course, we’re pretty sure Gore and Kerry did likewise to Bush here.) [NYT, NYDN]
• Damon Mootoo, the deaf guy from Guyana who disappeared in Queens last week hours after arriving in the United States, was finally found and returned to his relatives. He said he lived in cars and backyards for four days. [NY1]
• Tired of the busy signals when you try calling for that Per Se reservation exactly two months in advance? You’ll be thrilled to learn that a new service charges clients $35 to $45 to nab them rezzies at tough-to-get-into hot spots. [NYP]
• London may be edging out Gotham as the biz capital of the world, due in part to the United States’ lawsuit-heavy culture and tough immigration rules, says a new $500,000 report. [NYDN]
• Waitress, the movie made by New York indie-film actress Adrienne Shelly before she was murdered in her apartment last year, was shown to applause and tears at Sundance. [1010WINS]
Restaurant Week, Already?Next week is Winter Restaurant Week, which means $24.07 at lunch and $35 at dinner for a three-course meal from one of the dozens and dozens of participating New York City eateries. That’s quite a deal for lunch at Gramercy Tavern or dinner at Spice Market. But the catch is that there are only so many reservations available — and buzzy spots like those two are probably long booked. What to do? Grub Street to the rescue! Josh Ozersky lists four spots low enough on buzz to give you a good chance of snagging a spot but high enough on quality to earn his recommendation. It’s at Grub Street.
A Restaurant Week Guide to the Forgotten and Underappreciated [Grub Street]
Winter Restaurant Week 2007 [NYC&Co.]
A New Restaurant for Old Grange Hall Space?Grub Street has news today that there may finally be a new tenant for the West Village restaurant space best known for housing Grange Hall (and, more recently, Blue Mill) — and it’s not highfalutin mixologist Sasha Petraske, who’d previously said he was interested. Nope, the new guy is Harold Moore, a chef who’s worked for some of New York’s top French toques. Josh Ozersky explains at Grub Street.
Harold Moore of March to Take Over Grange Hall-Blue Mill Space [Grub Street]
the morning line
Airplanes and Stem Cells
• A single-engine plane crashed into the driveway of a New Jersey home last night, killing the pilot and barely missing a row of houses. Details are still murky at the moment; the flight originated in North Carolina and was headed for the Essex County airport in bad weather. [WNBC]
• Governor Spitzer is about to sign off on a $1 billion government-financed stem-cell research initiative. Before we get too proud, however (or scream godless pinko), let’s recall that California is spending three times the amount on the same. And their governor used to kill clones personally. [NYT]
• The NYPD has been cracking down on one of its formerly invincible nemeses — diplomats who use their immunity to park wherever they want. The city’s already collected $3 million and is still owed $18 million more, from 77 countries. Worst offender? Egypt ($1.9 million in unpaid tickets). [NYDN]
• Miss New Jersey USA has resigned because she’s pregnant, and you can’t compete while pregnant. (By the way: Why not?) The runner-up, Erin Abramson, is presumed to be running around the living room yelling “I won I won I won I won.” [amNY]
• And a French-born New Yorker got slapped with an insulting “foreigner fee” at Aquagrill; the story is remarkable for marking the first time in the years the Post published a photo of a French person without Photoshopping a weasel head on him. [NYP]
New York Critics May Not Love Gordon Ramsay, But British Gays DoLondon superchef Gordon Ramsay opened his New York outpost in November, and critics have not been kind, faulting its food, its service, and its design. But Pink News, a British gay news service, may have identified a larger problem. Ramsay has apparently been ranked one of Britain’s Top 50 gay icons, which would mean his West 54th Street location puts Gordon Ramsay at the London about 35 blocks north of its ideal location. It’s part of Grub Street’s continuing coverage of the (avowedly heterosexual) Mr. Ramsay.
Gordon Ramsay, Gay Icon [Grub Street]
The Art of Making a Restaurant
Yes, yes: We know it’s not easy to put something together. (Every minor detail is a major decision, etc.) But just how hard is it to open a new restaurant in the big, bad city? To find out, Grub Street has enlisted Sam Mason, the onetime pastry chef at wd-50 who’s opening his own restaurant in March, to file a weeklyish status report. In today’s installment, Mason opens his new kitchen toys and considers the profundities of garbage. It’s at Grub Street.
Sam Mason Reckons With Garbage [Grub Street]
Harold Dieterle, ‘Top Chef’ Winner and Health-Code ViolatorBravo’s America’s Next Top Model-in-the-kitchen hit Top Chef returned from its three-week hiatus last night. To the immense pleasure of obsessive fans (not, um, anyone we know, of course), that meant last year’s winner, Harold Dieterle, who’s currently gearing up to open the restaurant Perilla in the West Village, returned to blogging about it. We like the guy, but his thoughts on the hazing of a current contestant in the new episode made us reconsider whether we really want to dine at his eatery.
It really amazes me the amount of hatred directed at Marcel…. I mean, you’re around these people all the time, and look, there were times when there were people that I didn’t want to be around, but my decision was to go and lock myself in the bathroom. That was my quiet time.
That’s how he got through the show? By hanging out in the bathroom? Let’s hope he remembers employees must wash hands before returning to work.
CORRECTION, Jan. 4: An earlier version of this item suggested Top Chef was still on hiatus.
Harold’s Blog [BravoTV.com ]
You Can’t Always Gentrify What You WantThe Italian restaurant Sal Anthony’s was an Irving Place institution for 40 years, until it closed last February. Its last supper came after owner Anthony Macagnone lost a five-year court battle with his landlords, allowing them to raise his rent some 500 percent. Unable to afford it, Macagnone closed up shop. And yet still a Sal Anthony’s awning leads up to the restaurant’s second-floor entrance. Why? Because after insisting in court that a fair-market rent would be much more than what Macagnone was paying, his landlords have been unable to get anyone to pay the new, higher rent.
“I’m amused,” Macagnone said recently, speaking at his Movement Salon on Third Avenue, which offers yoga and Pilates classes. (He also still runs two other restaurants, one in the East Village and one in Little Italy.) “I was paying $12,000 a month and they wanted $60,000. They had all these witnesses coming into court who said it was worth so much. It must have cost them a million dollars to get me out.” The problem, Macagnone says, is the stairs in front of the building. It’s a flight up to his old restaurant space and two steps down to a basement space he used as a catering hall, among other things. The stairs, he says, “are a bane to a retailer’s existence. I wouldn’t rent [the space] now if they gave it to me for free.” Broker Adina Azarian, who is trying to rent the property, agreed that the stairs “have turned off” some prospective tenants. “But the second floor has great visibility and the staircase is dramatic,” she says. “It has a beautiful view and the windows are great. It’s up for grabs, and I’m sure the right person will come along.” Indeed. But for what rent? —Mary Reinholz
‘New York’ Critic Loves Hot New Restaurant to DeathYou’ve heard, of course, of the Sports Illustrated Curse: That teams or players featured on the mag’s cover inevitably don’t perform as well as they’re expected to. We’re now forced to wonder if there’s a similar Adam Platt Curse, as Dona, a restaurant New York’s esteemed chief food critic named one of the city’s best newcomers in the current issue, and helmed by a chef, Michael Psilakis, Platt picked as an up-and-comer to watch, has announced it will be closing after Saturday night. Josh Ozersky has the scoop — and more details — at Grub Street.
Dona Closing Saturday [Grub Street]
Charlie Rose Stole Their Chicken (and That’s Not a Euphemism, Sadly)Yes, yes. We all know boldfaced names often get preferential treatment, and we know that loyal regulars do, too. So it’s no particularly great surprise that when Charlie Rose waltzes into a neighborhood joint in the West Village, he’ll be favored and flattered a bit. But recently, Rose went a step further, “accidentally” receiving nearly immediately upon his arrival a roasted chicken destined for — and long-ago ordered by — other diners. Here’s the truly delicious part: The patrons whose dinner he droit du seigneured were none other than New York’s Underground Gourmets, Rob Patronite and Robin Raisfeld. At Grub Street, read their tale of woe — and remember that the pen is always mightier than a fawning maître d’.
Charlie Rose, Chicken Thief [Grub Street]
Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Waiting Tables at Stanton SocialYou know you’ve always wondered what it’s like to be a waiter at Stanton Social. (No, really. You have. Just stick with us on this.) Well, today’s your lucky day! Grub Street talked to Jason Raines, an actor-waiter, and Jason revealed what to drink when you’re with Robert Downey Jr., what it takes to get your check comped, and why Jessica Alba was the restaurant’s poster child, if briefly.
Stanton Social’s Jason Raines Will Comp Your Meal If Customers Make Out Near You [Grub Street]
It’s a Beautiful Day in Gordon Ramsay’s Neighborhood
So let’s say a superstar British chef comes to New York, and let’s say he opens up a new restaurant right around the corner from your apartment. That’d be a good thing for you, right? Wrong, if you live behind Gordon Ramsay’s new restaurant at the London NYC. Residents of the building backing up against the hotel have been complaining about incessant noise and unpleasant odors from the restaurant’s exhaust fans. Today Grub Street investigated, and the results aren’t pretty. Some view, eh?
We Spot-Check Gordon Ramsay’s Stink [Grub Street]
Theater People Celebrate an Institution, Complain About SexLast night was the fifth-anniversary celebration for Angus McIndoe’s, the theater-district hot spot popular before shows with tourists and after shows with actors and critics, and the party drew what one wag identified as the five sectors of the theatergoing population: gays, Jews, gay Jews, the WASPs who write about them, and the women who love them all. Much of the talk was about Spring Awakening, the exhilarating rock musical that opened Sunday night to amazing reviews in yesterday’s papers, and if you’re wondering why the show — about sexual discovery and repression among nineteenth-century teenagers — has struck such a chord with theater critics and reporters, you need only step into their world for a night to learn that this crowd knows more than a little about sexual frustration.
All the Petraske You’ve Been Dreaming OfHow many openings has Grub Street broken in the last 24 hours? So many we’ve nearly lost count. First was news of a new Sasha Petraske saloon, this one to forgo the mixology maven’s usual carefully constructed cocktails for beer and wine. Next was the report that Amalia, the restaurant and lounge scheduled to open a few weeks ago in the Dream Hotel, won’t awaken there till late January. (But Grub’s got renderings now!) Finally came one more bit of Petraskiana: The Milk and Honey and Little Branch proprietor wants to add food to his empire, aiming to open a restaurant in the old Grange Hall space in the West Village. Need to know more? It’s all on Grub Street.
Milk and Honey Owner to Do Wine and Beer — and Queens! [Grub Street]
Dream Hotel’s Restaurant Still a Dream, But Opening in January [Grub Street]
Sasha Petraske to Take on Fine Dining, Too [Grub Street]
Ralph Lauren to Open Hamptons Eatery, No Doubt to Be Filled With Old-Time AmericanaAt last, there’ll soon be a chance for East Enders to actually eat at Ralph’s. Designer Ralph Lauren, who owns the steak-and-seafood joint RL in Chicago, is taking over the space in East Hampton that for 25 years has housed the popular, unprepossessing, vaguely surf-themed Blue Parrot. “They signed the contract, and we should close in a couple of weeks,” confirms Parrot owner Lee Bieler, who is moving to L.A. to pursue an acting career. “They said they wanted to renovate the building and do a restaurant. His designer said it would be a concept similar to the Ivy in Beverly Hills.” The restaurant, complete with outdoor patio, is next door to the Polo player’s East Hampton boutique. Word is it’ll be open for business by the spring. —Beth Landman
Floating Bar-Restaurant to Leave Its Pier, TooSpeaking of long-tenured tenants of the Hudson River piers: The Frying Pan, that floating West Chelsea institution docked for years at Pier 63, is finally sailing off into the night. The 1929 lightship that houses the bar and café is being forced from its mooring as the city rebuilds that section of Hudson River Park, reports Daniel Maurer at Grub Street. Will that leave the pan permanently unfried? Oh, no, far from it. Grub Street’s got the goods.
City Sinks Beloved Party Vessel; New Location in the Works [Grub Street]
Vegas, Vegas, It’s a Helluva Town
Tired of going away for a weekend and having that vacation spot feel, you know, different from home? Then it’s your lucky day. Because God forbid Las Vegas should have any indigenous cuisine, Grub Street’s Daniel Maurer broke news yesterday that potentially three more noted New York restaurateurs will be joining the other big-name, franchised eateries in Sin City. Soon, it seems, you’ll be able to gamble and ogle showgirls (do they even still have showgirls in Vegas?) while dining Terrance Brennan’s Artisanal, Jeffery Chodorow’s Asia de Cuba, or François Payard’s Payard Patisserie. Grub Street’s got the details.
Terrance Brennan to Make Vegas Just a Little Bit Cheesier? [Grub Street]
Chodorow and Payard May Also Ride Gravy Train to Vegas [Grub Street]
Someone Please Keep Diane Sawyer BusyDiane Sawyer will take over World News from Charlie Gibson after the presidential election, but how will she entertain herself till then? Frank Capra wanted to make a sequel to It’s A Wonderful Life. Rod Stewart told Rolling Stone his daughter has a serious liver condition from partying too hard; she denies it. The owner of Cafe Fuego in the East Village, who’s also the boyfriend of Halle Berry, behaves just like all the ill-behaving ex-boyfriends of Halle Berry. Billionaire Russian heiress Anna Anisimova ditches New York for the warmer climes of L.A., plans to start a perfume company. Stephen Baldwin misbehaved on an airplane. Denis Leary made fun of Mel Gibson at the New York Comedy Festival. Borat had a few issues at the Wellington Hotel when he stayed there while filming a scene for his movie. Peter Cook still likes ‘em blonde. The makers of a documentary about the difficulties American soldiers after having readjusting to life at home are unable to get the Armed Forces to show it. Stylist Rachel Zoe angered Tom Ford when she left a dinner party he was throwing in L.A. Liz Smith has some advice for Britney Spears: Go on Oprah and tell the world, “I was unconscious for two years.” Evidently, Paula Abdul is Jewish.
And Adam Platt Saw the Beef, and It Was GoodNew York is teeming with big-deal new steakhouses these days, and New York’s venerable restaurant critic, Adam Platt, has been eating at most of them. Thinking of adding your own offering to the meaty mix? Absolutely free of charge, Platt tells you how to do it right. Over on Grub Street, it’s the Gobbler’s Nine Commandments of New York Steakhouses, running from the first course (“Thou shalt serve a crappy shrimp cocktail”) to the last (“Thou shalt serve very large, though tedious desserts”), with many stops along the way. What are the other seven commandments? Check them out on Grub Street.
The Nine Steakhouse Commandments [Grub Street]
Another Openin’It’s all openings all the time, it seems, at Grub Street this morning. Fatty Crabber Zak Pelaccio isn’t going national, Josh Ozersky reports, but he is going international — taking over an Alain Ducasse restaurant in London and launching a Malaysian place there. Rob and Robin, meantime, bring news that carb impresario Maury Rubin is expanding his empire with two new Manhattan branches of Birdbath, his ecofriendly bakery. And Josh also has word of changes in Michael Psilakis’s Greek-food empire, including the reinvention of one restaurant and the creation of another. It’s all on Grub Street.
Zak Pelaccio Opening New Restaurant — in London [Grub Street]
Ecofriendly Bakery Suddenly Bent on World Domination [Grub Street]
Michael Psilakis Aims for A-List With Midtown Opening [Grub Street]
Mario Batali, Slowly RoastedWe confess we’ve been a bit confused all along about why there was a big-deal celebrity roast scheduled for Mario Batali: Aren’t these sorts of things usually reserved for comedians? We always thought so. But somehow last night’s for-charity skewering of the chubby chef at Capitale became one of the big high-profile parties of the week. Roasters included Sarah Silverman, Triumph the Insult Comic Dog, and Anthony Bourdain. Josh Ozersky was there, too, and he reports the night’s best jibes at Grub Street.
Mario Batali Is a Kobe Human, and Other Great Lines From His Roast [Grub Street]
Condos and Beer (Which Could Well Be New York’s New Motto)Bed-Stuy: A new wave of Bed-Stuy condos go where no condos have gone before. (East, of course). [Brownstoner]
Boerum Hill: Mmmm, beer: Cask Ale Festival kicks off at the Brazen Head on Atlantic Avenue. [Brooklyn Record]
Soho: Bedbugs chase Maya Rudolph and Paul Thomas Anderson from Greene Street. [NYP]
Financial District: A 24-hour diner will invade Gold Street in January. As if bankers don’t just order in, anyway. [MetroNY]
East Village: “Loanshark Bob” Marion returns to Avenue A after years of absence. Hooray. [Neither More Nor Less]
When you drop $216 on dinner for two – that’s with one drink and a tip, of course – you naturally expect what Zagat reviewers have dubbed a “luxurious temple” of “fine dining” where the “flawless” New French fare is “enthralling,” the wines “wonderful,” service “seamless,” and the “exquisite room” “adorned with gorgeous flowers.” What you might less expect, however, is a “labor war” “brewing” “out front.” But that’s just what diners at Daniel – a 28/28/28, if you’re keeping track at home – discovered when they arrived Tuesday night. Grubbie Josh Ozersky explains that Mr. Boulud is battling a group called the Restaurant Opportunities Center of New York, and he lays out the terms of the battle on Grub Street.
Daniel Under Attack! (Again) [Grub Street]
The Tea Room Is Coming! The Tea Room Is Coming!
The Russian Tea Room most recently closed four years ago. It’s most recently returning this week, opening for a soft launch on Wednesday and taking its first reservations for Friday night. And today our very own Grub Street scores the first pictures of the caviar emporium; rest assured, there’s still a juggling bear.
First Look Inside the Russian Tea Room [Grub Street]
When Chefs Wish Upon a Star…Allons, enfants de la patrie, le jour de Michelin est arrivé! That’s right, enfants, the new New York Michelin rankings came out yesterday, and it’s good to be Per Se, Le Bernardin, or Jean Georges — the city’s only three-star establishments. There are plenty of reasons for people to be happy, but also plenty of things to grumble about. Down on Grub Street, Josh Ozersky gives his take on the red book’s choices — and he gets some chefs, including starry Eric Ripert, to weigh in, too.
Michelin’s Explosive New Red Book [Grub Street]
Chefs Curse, Bless New Michelin Guide [Grub Street]
in other news
Gramercy Bookkeeper Goes to Prison, Inhospitably“Service is delivering on your promise,” famously friendly restaurateur Danny Meyer recently told New York. “Hospitality is making people feel good while you’re delivering on that promise.” So here’s an etiquette question: What’s the proper protocol when you’re about to be sent to prison for embezzlement?
Meyer’s former Gramercy Tavern bookkeeper, Sandrene Austin, helped herself to an estimated $275,000 in the nearly two years she worked for him, skimming a few hundred bucks each week and covering the discrepancy by inflating the number of gift certificates redeemed. The five-and-a-half-months pregnant 28-year-old was sentenced to three years in jail yesterday, as the Post reported. But here’s the beauty part: She could have gotten off without any jail time if she’d just shown remorse and returned the money. Why didn’t she do that? Because she’d purchased a Queens home for herself and her family with the money, and the family didn’t want to sell the house.
After all, without it, how could they be hospitable?
— Doree Shafrir
Pub Bookkeep Thief Gets 3 Yrs. [NYP]
Danny Meyer Walks Into a Pub [NYM]