Summer is upon us at last, and with it come the inevitable summer foods: hot dogs, barbecue, snap peas, salad and pappardelle with truffles and butter. Well, not every food consumed in the hot months is inevitable. But this issue comes packed with hot-weather options. The Underground Gourmet reviews Willies Dawgs and PDT, the new chic cocktail lounge attached to Crif Dogs (youll have to read to understand). The citys most ambitious barbecue opening yet happens this week; Gael Greene is very taken with Aurora Sohos reverse commute; Pichet Ong takes off from the dessert business to create a killer sugar-snap-pea recipe; and Rob and Robin offer both a guide to the citys top department-store salads and a quiz to determine your green-eats quotient, a test which only the most narrowly focused carnivore could possibly fail.
The Underground Gourmet looks at two hot-dog-associated recent openings: the child-friendly Willies Dawgs and the definitely not-child-friendly PDT, a swank and soign cocktail lounge with only the most tenuous connection to neighboring Crif Dogs.
Openings brings news, at long last, of Hill Country, an immense tribute to the barbecue of central Texas; a new East Village caf from the owners of Gnocco and Perbacco; and the very seasonal Park Avenue Summer, with a life span of just a few months before it morphs into Park Avenue Autumn.
The Insatiable Critic finds herself in a noisy, crowded, and slow new restaurant, the new Soho outpost of Williamsburgs Aurora, and doesnt seem to mind at all, enthusing as she does over the confident and affordable cooking.
Sugar snap peas are a summer treat everybody seems to like, but other than steaming them, what are you supposed to do with them? An unlikely source, Asian dessert savant Pichet Ong, gives his take on the subject in In Season.
Are you a "groodie"? That is, are you the kind of Slow Food, local-vegetable, greenmarket-going foodie that counts it as a moral mission not to eat California vegetables or supermarket bacon? Maybe you just think you are. Take Rob and Robins test and find out.
Finally, Rob and Robin perform an exercise beyond the will of almost any food writer we know: eating salads at the citys top department stores and rating them in order of edibility.
Restaurant Openings: Hill Country, Caff Emilia, and Park Avenue Summer
The Insatiable Critic: Aurora Soho
In Season: Sugar Snap Peas
Are You a Groodie?
Battle of the Department-Store Salads [NYM]