Week of November 24, 2003
French Culinary Institute graduate Tuhin Dutta made his mark at Banjara, on 6th Street, and this week, he reappears in Manhattan’s other Indian-food enclave. At Curry Hill’s Cardamomm, Dutta (pictured, with co-owner Sunny Pokala) marinates his chicken kebabs in Grand Marnier and crusts them with cashews, and douses his rack of lamb in rum. But his real passion is not booze but wine: A certified sommelier, Dutta has put together a list that ranges from Australia to Chile. For dessert—cardamom ice cream, of course.
100 Lexington Avenue, at 27th Street
La Rosa & Son
If Jimmy and Paul Mamary and partner Alan Harding weren’t such successful restaurateurs (Patois, Schnäck, Pacifico), they might have made brilliant found-object artists. La Rosa & Son, their homage to fifties mom-and-pop pizzerias, takes its name from a recently demolished Elizabeth Street bakery whose sign they purchased for twenty bucks. The mismatched tables and chairs are from a bunch of different restaurants, and the pizza oven—whence will come thin-crust pies and slices, calzones, and meatball heros—was uncovered beneath a heap of restaurant equipment in a Flushing warehouse. “It’s all a mishmash of garbage,” says Jimmy, about the décor, not the food. “But it all works.”
98 Smith Street, Boerum Hill, Brooklyn
Indian Bread Co.
Once the city’s Italian-café capital, Bleecker Street is slowly becoming an epicenter of Indian fast food. This week, the Indian Bread Co. opens right around the corner from the Kati Roll Co., and it’s not just the names that are similar. Like its precursor, IBC features “kathi rolls,” made of flaky griddled paratha stuffed with egg and onion, spiced potatoes, or chicken tikka. But in a variation on the kati (or kathi) theme, IBC rounds out its Atkins-hostile menu with unrolled stuffed paratha, grilled naaninis, and the Indian salads called chats.
194 Bleecker Street
object of desire
The Full Manti
When Prune chef-owner Gabrielle Hamilton was living in Turkey, she developed a taste for the ubiquitous crimped dumplings called manti. “It’s the pride of brides and mothers-in-law to see who can make the smallest,” says Hamilton, who encountered versions stuffed with pumpkin, cheese, ground turkey, and nuts, some of them as misguidedly newfangled as “ravioli in bad Italian restaurants.” At Prune, Hamilton adheres to manti tradition, filling hers with beef (an accepted alternative to lamb) and drenching them in garlicky yogurt and cayenne butter.
54 East 1st Street
Eating out on Thanksgiving has its advantages.
As Turkey Day approaches, even the most confident cooks are prone to pre-feast panic attacks. If you’re having second thoughts about playing host, or find yourself dreading the cleanup, consider letting a professional handle the job.
43 East 19th Street; 212-780-0880
Tom Colicchio has thought of everything for Craft’s first-ever Thanksgiving dinner, including the leftovers. After he plies you with three first courses, five sides, five desserts, and your choice of one or two main dishes (roasted turkey, sirloin, or wild king salmon), all served family-style for $85 per person, he’ll send you home with whatever remains packed in Tupperware.
15 East 15th Street ; 212-647-1515
Stuffing lovers have a painful choice to make: traditional chestnut-and-sage with the free-range turkey, or its cassava counterpart, Brazilian farofa-da-bebe, with whiskey-and-cider braised ham. Three courses for $58; $38 for children.
164 West 75th Street; 212-787-6300
It wouldn’t be a Tom Valenti holiday meal without some rich, meaty braised shanks on the table. In this case, they’re pork, and one of three main-course options, another being roasted turkey with porcini stuffing. Everything else on the $65 three-course prix fixe has an Italian accent, including a spicy tomato-and-fregola soup to start and pizzele for dessert.
24 Fifth Avenue ; 212-529-4400
Jonathan Waxman starts everyone off with a smoked-salmon-and-caviar canapé, then proceeds to a three-course prix fixe of delicacies like oysters with grilled spicy sausage, rack of venison, and the obligatory free-range bird—all served with an entourage of fabulous fixin’s; $55 per person.
101 St. Marks Place; 212-677-2226
This couscous specialist observes the holiday with Cornish hen stuffed with the signature Moroccan dish, garnished with saffron sauce and cranberry chutney, and served in a $25 prix fixe with butternut-squash soup, goat-cheese salad, and apple tart.
It’s The Great Pumpkin
If you are going to mess with a Thanksgiving classic like pumpkin pie, you shouldn’t go about it timidly. Or at least that would seem to be the fever-pitched thinking behind François Payard’s pumpkin-chestnut tart, available by special order through November 26. The multilayered masterpiece incorporates crunchy meringue, fresh-whipped cream, candied ginger, marrons glacés, and a pumpkin filling, all under one sweet-chestnut-paste roof that looks like it’s been run through the pasta machine.
Payard Patisserie & Bistro
1032 Lexington Avenue, near 73rd Street
I want strident flavor and quiet prices.
There is a pleasant benevolence about Mojo, where the food looks great and tastes good, especially if you arrive before local fans pile in (no reservations). This is homey food with chef Chris Santos’s quirky Southwestern inflection. And the four of us want to try everything: all-day-simmered black-bean soup, crispy fish tacos, the crackling apple-bacon-blue-cheese quesadilla, and chorizo-studded mac and cheese. I could do without the silly sprinkles of whatnot on the edges of plates and the excess of sauce drowning otherwise splendid hanger steak. But the warm fried-chicken salad is a luscious hill of avocado, greens, and amazingly moist bird. And the burger is gloriously decadent, with chipotle barbecue sauce, grilled red onion, and my choice of add-on, Cabrales. It’s worth hanging at the bar just for superlative skin-on fries, an addictive marvel of genuine spud, salt, spice, and Day-Glo cayenne.
309 East 5th Street